Beginning my senior thesis… AKA reading, reading, reading

I’ve always been interested in books. When I was young, my dad would read to me and my sister every day as we ate breakfast before school. A Separate Peace, Lord of the Flies, Tom Sawyer… Later, my stack of books turned to John Grisham and Michael Crichton, as my best friends and I swapped books and discussed our favorite authors. Now, my table is filled with something different. It’s filled with Differentiating Normal and Abnormal Personality, Smoking: Individual Difference, Psychopathology, and Emotion, On the Psychobiology of Personality…

I’m not sure about the specific focus of my senior thesis, but I know that I am going to do an experimental study on nicotine dependence and personality. For my project, I will be working with my research mentor, Dr. Kasey Creswell. I have worked in Dr. Creswell’s behavioral health lab for over two years, and the first population I worked with was heavy smokers. This initial experience is one of the key reasons that I am interested in working with heavy smokers. I am also interested in mental health and personality disorders. Right now, I am planning on looking at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.) Section III trait model of personality pathology and how this is related to nicotine dependence. Previous research has shown that nicotine dependence and smoking severity are related to personality disorders as defined by the DSM-4 and DSM-3, but little research exists on the new DSM-5 Section III categorization of personality disorders.

I am still doing my background research to make sure that this is a viable research topic. I know, armed with my pile of books, that I’ll be able to design a great research project and run participants in the fall!