Kaylyn Kim

How to Fight Jealousy

Just a reminder that today, the 2015 Dietrich College Honors Fellows presented on their work so far this summer. We had hoped to share videos of each presentation, but due to technical difficulties, we’ll just be sharing recaps and a few photos throughout the week.

For Kaylyn Kim’s Senior Honors Program thesis and fellowship project, she decided to create a psychological study to find out how to fight jealousy using security priming.photo[1] copy

Kim’s project advisor is Associate Psychology Professor Brooke Feeney, an expert in studying interpersonal relations – particularly in how close relationships help people to thrive through adversity and through the pursuit of life challenges.

First, Kim, a psychology major with a minor in creative writing, talked about how she needed to define “romantic jealousy.”

“It’s the threat of comparison and competition and the fear of being replaced,” she explained. “Jealousy is not inherently a bad emotion. It comes from a place of love, but the outcomes can be negative.”

Security priming has been shown to boost moods and self-esteem, so Kim wanted to explore how it affects jealous thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. She used imagining a partner’s touch or sound of their voice as examples of security primes.

Kim has already started running pilots, and she detailed how her experiment works. Participants must speak English, be at least 18 years old and have a romantic partner that they have been dating for at least three months who is also willing to participate. They will not be aware of the study’s real goal.

The couples will fill out background questionnaires and go through a series of activities designed to gather baseline information and then elicit jealous reactions.

Kim believes that the implications from her work will include creating interventions “to enhance the well-being of individuals and their relationships.”

Read more about Kim’s project.

Check out a photo of all of the Honors Fellows before the presentations.

On Piloting

I’m very happy to announce I just conducted my first pilot test of my research study! I’ve run through the protocol and script many times with advisors, grad students, and friends, but not on anyone in the unsuspecting population. I had my lab manager and a research assistant act as my ‘couple’ who had been dating for three months and ran through the study like it was the real thing. Afterwards, they gave me great feedback on things they liked, and things that needed to be fixed.


All my applications for the IRB are written and complete. I plan on continuing pilot testing this week, making necessary changes in my application, and finally submitting on Friday! Then I wait for their response.

My pilot testers are going to consist of a wide range of opinions that’ll give me crucial feedback. So as I mentioned, today I had my knowledgeable research assistant and lab manager duo to test on; later this week, I’ll also have a completely unsuspecting real couple along with my research advisor and grad student powerhouse duo. Each pilot I’ll find something new to fix, so the next one will run smoother. Hopefully by Friday, I’ll have worked all the kinks out.

My lab room, where I watch!

My lab room, where I watch!

The aftermath of the study – piles and piles of questionnaires

The aftermath of the study – piles and piles of questionnaires

I’m excited to move on from the ‘writing’ stage of the study onto the ‘doing’ stage. It was so fun hearing what my pilot couple had to say about my baby, and it made me excited to fix it so the next couple could experience it as well. It’s also quite awakening, to go from imagining what it’ll be like to see it come to life.

Learn more about my project.

Hello everyone!

It’s my second week back in Pittsburgh, which means I’ve been immersed in my project for nearly two weeks now.

What I’ve been up to…

  • Lots and lots of reading. Basically, every day, I start off with reading new material, reviewing old material, looking for information online, reading through textbooks, and repeat. I’ve spent the good majority of last and this week delving into the research on relationship jealousy and security priming. It’s not the most exciting task, but certainly an essential one.
Found a nice study spot in the Carnegie Library!

Found a nice study spot in the Carnegie Library!

  • For now, my work has been a solitary task, apart from these weekly meetings with my advisor and other Dietrich fellows. I don’t mind working alone, but it’s a good feeling to interact with people that understand and support my work.
  • The beginning stages of the IRB proposal. Writing this proposal is my first (and big!) assignment. As I started writing two days ago, I have noticed what a huge and complex task this will be. The IRB proposal requires you to attach and explain everything you will use in your study, from the flyers, informed consent form, questionnaires, script, method, debriefing form, to twenty other things I have not listed. This means I need all these things done. For each component, I have a solid idea of what it’ll look like, but it’ll certainly take some time to write it out in the diction and format I envision. The smallest element can affect a participant’s answer to a question, so I need to extremely careful when writing these things out so my study presents itself neutral and unbiased. Also, the description of my study needs to be as tactful as possible, since I am dealing with human subjects and arising potential negative feelings of jealousy.

In these past two weeks, I feel as though I’ve found more about the way I work. First of all, I’ve absolutely loved working on my own time, which is not something many students get to experience. Each day has been different from the one before, which is partly due to the fact that I get antsy when I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. For example, I find myself switching locations throughout the day instead of staying put in one place. Walking around and moving helps me take a break when I’m in a rut, and I find it much more helpful than sitting and waiting for inspiration to come. I’ve hit up the usual work locations (Starbucks, the library, my lab) as well as outdoor locations (in front of the Carnegie Museum, by the fountain in Schenley Plaza) if outdoor Wi-fi permits!

Progress is coming slowly but surely. I’m excited to tackle on this proposal for the next few weeks and get my study rolling.

Learn more about my project.

Getting Started

Kaylyn Kim

Kaylyn Kim

What an honor it is to be a part of the
Dietrich Honors Fellowship Program.

This is a dream come true for me—I have been immersing myself in the different types of research here in the Psychology Department at Carnegie Mellon University, but never anything to this scale. My project is going to be a labor-intensive project, but I believe in it and I believe in the importance of the findings. Not to mention, from the very beginning of the application process, I have received great enthusiasm and support from my advisor, Dr. Brooke Feeney.  I had lots of different ideas coming in, and Dr. Feeney was great at finding the core of my interests and channeling it in a positive direction.

What I’m most excited about is being completely in charge of a research project. In the past, I’ve worked on creating studies with research teams, and I realize that working very closely with a team and working by yourself are two completely different research experiences. With teams, although you get a variety of different skillsets to contribute to the research, you tend to compromise and adjust ideas to match the interests of others. I’m looking forward to working on a project that is completely based on my interests!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the ‘so what?’ aspect of the study. From my time working in the Relationships Lab as an experimenter and coder, I’ve learned that jealousy is an extremely common area of conflict in relationships. I believe the findings will determine approaches to mend the well-being of a relationship in marriage counseling and other therapeutic settings. I plan on pursuing clinical psychology in the future, so it’s really cool to be working on a study with so many real-life implications. Also, it’ll shed light into an area of research that hasn’t been too closely looked at yet.

I’m so excited for the summer to start and get my project rolling! I shall keep you updated on my progress!

 Read more about me and my project.