Student Spotlight: K. Tyler Wilcox
Year: Class of 2013 graduate
Capstone project: For his senior project, Tyler designed a study to examine the impact of relaxation on memory for emotion words. In particular, he was interested in whether tasks like sitting and walking mindfulness meditation, mindful yoga, and passive relaxation would affect people’s emotional memory for valenced words, as well as their mindfulness and mood. One group of “expert” participants, with at least 3 months of experience in these relaxation techniques, were compared to a “novice” group of inexperienced participants, who were trained during the study in one of the four relaxation techniques. The results showed that, contrary to expectations, training technique did not affect recall for positive, negative, or neutral words. Overall mindfulness and decentering were significantly higher after training for all groups and techniques. And for the “expert” group, positive affect was significantly higher after relaxation training. These results suggest that engaging in just 10 minutes of meditation, yoga, or relaxation does not affect emotional memory, but can affect mindfulness.
Future career plans: Tyler is entering the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University in August 2013, to work with Dr. Kirk Warren Brown researching the role of mindfulness in social relationships and neurological responses to social stimuli.