Testing emotional resiliency: Graduate psychology student Katie Edler aims to improve mental health

Author: Office of Brand Content

Katie Edler, a graduate student in psychology, conducts an experiment in emotional regulation where she asks children between 6 and 8 years old to complete a simple puzzle with 20 large pieces and then leaves the room.

The trick is that the puzzle is under a box with a sheet over it, and it’s actually “pretty much impossible” to fit the pieces together without seeing them. A video camera records the scene.

“We put them in a challenging or frustrating situation—nothing too intense, but we want to see how they react,” Edler said. “It’s not a bad thing if a kid is struggling in the moment, but this is one way we can assess: Do they keep trying? How much of the five minutes did they try to put it together? We also look at their expressions of positive and negative emotion.”

Some kids actually lift up the sheet to cheat by seeing the pieces. That’s OK, Edler said. It might be a sign of persistence or determination, reminiscent of one of the more famous studies in psychology history.

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Originally published by Office of Brand Content at news.nd.edu on May 01, 2024.