JoAnne Sweeney

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JoAnne Sweeney


In addition to the critical thinking skills she gained by conducting research, JoAnne feels that she has also gained a valuable experience that will contribute to her success in law school and her goal of becoming a lawyer. JoAnne's interest in individualism led to the development of her project, which she describes as being a very gratifying experience that helped her gain a sense of "control over [her] academic destiny." She advises other students to get an early start in research and utilize university programs, faculty, and other students. She values her undergraduate research experience because the "skills [she has] gained through this project will be invaluable." triangle.gif (504 bytes)




This study explores the psychological motivations behind a specific and widespread type of crime: shoplifting. While some research has been devoted to this crime and its causes, little research exists to discover its psychological causes. Subjects completed a survey asking them to describe their shoplifting behaviors and attitudes. They also completed a value survey that included ten cross-culturally stable categories. These categories are part of the larger cultural constructs of individualism and collectivism. Subjects' self-reported values were analyzed with their shoplifting patterns. Results indicate that shoplifting subjects placed more emphasis on certain individualist values (Power and Hedonism) and less emphasis on certain collectivist values (Benevolence and Conformity) than their non-shoplifting peers.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                
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David Dooley

School of Social Ecology

JoAnne Sweeney's project is most significant to me for its interdisciplinary nature—crossing the two large research domains of psychology and criminology. She found an interesting question that allowed her to read widely and independently in personality theory, cross-cultural psychology, and prior studies of criminal deviance. She then had the excellent experience of applying her prior course work on research methods and statistics to practical tasks ranging from seeking funding and human subjects clearance to asking professors for permission to survey their students, as well as creating computer work files from the resulting responses. In a way, such faculty-mentored research projects synthesize and sum up the whole college experience and prepare the student to step directly into graduate school without missing a beat.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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