Diep “Penny” Trieu ’15 recently published her research on the defining elements of social media and its links to key psychological effects in the Annual Review of Psychology. Currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Trieu also published similar research for her honors thesis in psychology at Randolph.
We asked her a few questions about her work and what’s next:
What is your focus of study at the University of Michigan? What degree are you pursuing and what are your plans following graduation?
“I am currently in the last year of my doctoral studies for the information science program here. Information science is a relatively new and interdisciplinary field, and I like to describe it as a blend of social science and computer science, focused on understanding the ways people use technology. My plan following graduation is to work as a user experience researcher in the tech field, where I can continue to research how people use technology and to improve that experience. To this end, I have previously interned at Google and Microsoft during my time at Michigan.”
Tell us about this research and how it is linked to your honors thesis at Randolph?
“This particular paper is a review of the psychological effects of social media use and how it is linked to four elements of social media: (1) the profile where you post your own content, (2) the stream where you see content from other people, (3) the network where you connect with others, and (4) the message where you can engage in private conversations with your contacts. There’s been a lot of interest in the psychology field in social media, and this paper is meant to provide a selective overview of the research in this area.
“At Randolph, I conducted my honors thesis on how different ways of presenting yourself on Instagram can be related to changes in narcissism, and I have always maintained my research interests in this intersection of social media and psychological effects.”
How did Randolph’s psychology department prepare you for graduate school and the work you’re doing now?
“The psychology department and faculty at Randolph were amazingly nurturing of my intellectual and research interests. The classes are really engaging and helpful, and any professor was really willing to talk with me in-depth about particular assignments/projects/questions I had. My original interest in social media was formed in a seminar with professor Richard Barnes, where there were just four students in the class, if I remember correctly. I also later did a summer research project with professor Beth Schwartz, which helped me kick start my honors thesis.
“The chance to do an honors thesis itself, where I devised and executed my own research project with plenty of guidance from all of the professors, helped me cement my interest in research and demonstrate that dedication for my graduate school application. Besides this big project, I did mini research projects as part of lab classes with professor Holly Tatum and professor Barnes, and all these small things really added up to build my research skills for grad school.”