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Mazur Research Receives Funding

3/24/2007 —

Dr. Elizabeth Mazur, Associate Professor of Psychology, will support her research in two distinct areas through funds received from the Research Development Grant program (RDG).

Mazur's proposal requested funding to continue data collection for her study, "Explorations of Identity and interaction in Adolescent Web Logs." The second part of Mazur's proposal was to complete data analysis and manuscript preparation for her study on "Positive and Negative Life Events of Parents with Acquired Physical Disabilities and of Their Adolescent Children."

Dr. Mazur's published research on using adolescent web logs (“blogs”) for the teaching of adolescence (PSYCH 412) already has gained national attention. Although about 4 million young Americans have created a blog and 8 million young people read them, she is one of the first researchers to study web logs as a new and popular place for adolescents to explore and play with their identities.

In her study completed last semester, to be presented next August with a student coauthor at the meetings of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Mazur and her research team of undergraduates analyzed and described the content of 124 adolescent blogs. They focused especially on bloggers’ presentation and exploration of identity, their extension of friendship into the “blogosphere,” and on readers’ responses. One of the unexpected findings were the racial and gender differences in use of the blogs for social networking.

Thus, this semester, Dr. Mazur, with a new undergraduate research team, is extending the study into adolescents’ interaction on the hugely popular social networking site MySpace. Building on previous research on racial divisions in students’ friendships, they will determine whether social interaction on MySpace is simply an extension of adolescents’ local inter- or intraracial friendships (for example, a replacement for phone or email) or whether MySpace members are forming new social networks with those outside of their local communities. Also, are these “friends” similar or different to the adolescents in terms of race, sex, and age?

The second part of Dr. Mazur's research proposal is to study the positive and negative events experienced by parents with acquired physical disabilities and by their adolescent children ages 12-17. Nineteen local families were recruited for two telephone interviews during which participants rated the frequency of disability-related events during the previous month and whether they perceived those events as positive, negative, or neutral. Parents and adolescents also reported on their psychological adjustment on standard measures. Contrary to what is called the “medical model of disability,” positive events were reported more frequently than negative, and participants varied widely in how they interpreted the events they experienced. Dr. Mazur's preliminary analysis has been accepted for presentation at the Society for Research in Child Development.

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