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Friday, Nov 28, 2014

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Zachary Schumacher presents his paper at the 14th Annual International Conference of Social Dilemmas.

Photo courtesy of: Zachary Schumacher

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Zachary Schumacher

Photographer: Jack Jeffery

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Exemplary OU-C social psychology student takes polished presentation overseas


Zachary Schumacher isn’t your average social psychology undergrad. This past July, the Ohio University-Chillicothe junior traveled to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he gave a presentation at the 14th Annual International Conference of Social Dilemmas.

“I have always been interested in social psychology,” said Schumacher, “but my interests in the field increased significantly when I was a student in Dr. Ann Rumble’s social psychology class. During that time, I developed the idea that if individuals are presented with group interaction, our actions will conflict with our own notion of self-interests,” he explained. “After enrolling in Dr. Rumble’s Psych 221 class, I was given the tools to develop a study to test my ideas of group interaction, which led to my presentation, ‘The Use of Incentives Within a Hierarchy.'”

Only 66 percent of the presentations submitted to the conference were accepted; and among 150 presenters that spoke at the conference, Schumacher was the only undergraduate student. While at the conference, Schumacher had the opportunity to meet many notable figures in his field.

“At the conference, Zachary had the opportunity to meet Dr. Marilynn Brewer, a retired Ohio Eminent Scholar from The Ohio State University and one of the top social psychologists in the world. After hearing Zachary’s presentation, Dr. Brewer told me that she was very impressed with both Zach and his work,” said Rumble, assistant professor of psychology at OU-C and Zachary’s mentor for the project.

“Meeting Marilyn was truly amazing and my presentation was successful largely because of her help,” Schumacher commented. “Thanks to her advice, when I told the conference attendees that I was an undergraduate student, they didn’t believe me at first.”

In addition to attending classes, Schumacher also works as a psychology laboratory assistant in Rumble’s lab at OU-C. Matt Abbott, a fellow research assistant in Rumble’s lab and one of Schumacher’s best friends, also contributed to success of his research project and presentation.

“Matt Abbott played a huge role in the success of this experiment and presentation, and for that I am forever grateful. He was not able to attend the conference with me, but he was there in spirit along with everyone else who helped me throughout this process,” said Schumacher.

Also playing a large part in the success of his project and presentation was Professor Rumble.

“After advancing to the research methods class taught by Dr. Rumble, I was given a chance to bounce my ideas off my peers and professor Rumble herself. I am truly grateful for all the help and guidance she has given me. Because of Dr. Rumble, I found myself giving a presentation to a room full of individuals that I had first read about in my textbooks for her classes.”

“Zach did an excellent job, not only with his talk, but he also networked with and impressed many colleagues in our field, most of who thought he was an advanced grad student,” said Rumble.

“Both Zach and Matt have reached a level of achievement, and have an understanding of the empirical research in the field of social dilemmas that rivals graduate students in this area,” Rumble continued. “They are both extraordinary students who actively engage in their education and take it very seriously, which sets a positive example for all of our students to follow.”

Schumacher and Abbott continue to work on their project, and hope to present their latest findings at next year’s conference. As he reflects on this year’s success, Schumacher remains optimistic for the future.

“This opportunity has motivated me to a level that I thought was not possible and I will continue to further my investigation all thanks to the wonderful people around. All thanks to my family for their love, all thanks to my friends for their support, all thanks to my peers such as Matt, and lastly all thanks to Dr. Ann Rumble who has pushed me and still is.”