Lake Park Fair Explores Some of Psychology's Complex Issues

Article excerpt

Byline: Carolyn C. Armistead Daily Herald Correspondent

Would most people vote for a charismatic candidate who avoids the issues or a less-interesting candidate who takes a stand?

Would women find "Monty Python" or "Snow White" more humorous? Do most people - even if they deny it - have gender stereotypes? Do opposites really attract?

These and many other questions recently were explored at the student-run Psychology Fair at Lake Park High School in Roselle. The event wrapped up Wellness Week at the school.

Since February, 180 psychology students have worked together in small groups to prepare booths - nearly 50 of them - displaying a topic pertinent to psychology.

"Everything is done by the students ... it gives them an opportunity to be creative," said psychology teacher Carol Dean. "Every booth has to be interactive ... (so the students) have to think about scientific psychology and teach about psychology.

"The best way to learn is to teach," Dean said.

One of the booths explored styles of persuasion in politics. Students Vanessa King, Lisa Gschwind and Jeremie Palenske created the fictional office of President of the Ecology Care Coalition and pitted two candidates against one another. Student Pete Swanson took on the role of a candidate who was immensely likable but clueless when it came to the issues. Lara Gottschall acted as a candidate who lacked charisma but possessed plenty of knowledge.

The candidates circulated among students at the fair, and a video about both candidates was shown before people were asked to vote.

Pete's video showed him kissing babies, shooting hoops with kids and hugging trees. Lara was shown running a charity marathon, planting a tree and cleaning up trash.

"We thought Pete would win for sure, but it's a tie right now," Vanessa said midway through the fair.

After all the votes were tallied, the issues prevailed over the power of personality. It was a close race, however - Lara won by just 10 votes, 95-85.

At another booth called "The Laugh Shack," students Scott Danielwicz, Joe Prosser, Bunty Latif and Quinn Meadows explored the concept of humor. Surprisingly, the students found the subject very difficult to research.

After checking with several sources, including college libraries, they said they were able to find only "three books total" on the subject, one of them going back to Carl Jung in 1937. …