Thompson Rivers University

PSYC friends with Tokyo’s Bunkyo Gakuin University

March 27, 2017

Psychology students at Bunkyo Gakuin University

The partnership between Bunkyo Gakuin University (BGU) and TRU’s psychology department continues to blossom.

In mid-November 2016, Arts faculty members Sandra Vermeulen and Michael Woloszyn were invited to present their research to students and faculty members at BGU. This visit followed a long-standing program partnership between the TRU psychology department, TRU World and BGU’s psychology department.

During their visit, Vermeulen and Woloszyn assisted BGU students in an upper-level psychology methodology to develop the students’ projects.

During the presentation, students were interested, engaged and asked many thoughtful questions, thanks in large part to BGU faculty members, who took the time to translate Vermeulen and Woloszyn’s PowerPoint slides into Japanese and were on hand during the presentation to spell out some of its more challenging parts.

As guests of Bunkyo Gakuin, Vermeulen and Woloszyn met with psychology faculty members and visited their laboratories.

“I found that some of the students were inspired by our research and past talks in development of their own research projects,” said Vermeulen.

This was evident during BGU’s research methods classes.

“We were very impressed with their students’ and faculty members’ research programs. Professor Junichiro Murai discussed his research on the relationship of perceived deception and appearance with us,” Vermeulen added. “This research had synergies with our areas of researchI’m interested in criminal thinking, so the deception aspect was appealing.”

Dr. Kobayashi with Faculty of Arts Interim Dean, Sandra Vermeulen and visiting Bunkyo Gakuin University students

Dr. Kobayashi with Faculty of Arts Interim Dean, Sandra Vermeulen and Bunkyo Gakuin University students on a visit to Kamloops

For the past 12 years, BGU students have been visiting TRU annually, as part of a TRU World short-stay program. Both Woloszyn and Vermeulen have taught visiting students for the past 12 years, along with other TRU psychology faculty members.

“The students that visit from Bunkyo have a real enthusiasm and make a serious effort to follow along. They ask very good questions and seem to enjoy the experience of visiting our part of the world,” said Woloszyn.

Vermeulen has assisted with the planning and organizing of the TRU psychology portion of this program ever since BGU first proposed it more than 13 years ago.

“Bunkyo Gakuin and professor Kobayashi first proposed to us the idea of an English program abroad with a psychology component,” said Vermeulen, explaining the origins of the successful partnership.

“It’s now a well-respected program at their university—so much so that they were able to secure funding from the Japanese government to support this program.”

When the BGU delegates visit, often lasting connections are made with current TRU learners.

“Several of our psychology students have maintained contact and friendships. Several of our students have pursued education at Bunkyo Gakuin and/or TESL programs in Tokyo as a result of meeting,” added Vermeulen.

“Teaching these visiting students reminds me to ensure that I engage international students in my TRU classes.”

TRU psychology faculty members have also developed a strong working relationship with the visiting Bunkyo professors.

“This program we have in partnership with TRU is completely unique in Japan because the students are simultaneously learning English and psychology while visiting abroad,” said Dr. Takefumi Kobayashi, Chair of the BGU psychology department.

“I sincerely appreciate the substantial contribution of the psychology department and TRU World. Without them, this program would never exist.”

Summaries of the research presented at BGU
Dr. Sandra Vermeulen presented “Cognitive Biases in Civil Litigation,” in which she examines the possibility that potential jurors may be influenced by an effect called “truthiness.”  That is, people may feel an assertion is true without sufficient evidence. Truthiness occurs when people make rapid judgments about the validity of a claim when presented with nonfactual evidence. She in the process of writing it up for dissemination and running another control group but is happy to share its synopsis and findings to interested parties.

Dr. Michael Woloszyn presented “Factors that Impact Female Online Dating Preferences,” in which he constructed online dating website profiles in which he orthogonally manipulated four binary factors that females report are important to them in a long-term mate. He asked them to rate each for their willingness to go on a date with that individual. Interesting differences emerged in terms of what females self-report as being key factors influencing their preferences relative to what happened in the experimental situation. Woloszyn is completing the writing portion of the research now and anticipates publishing this spring.

For more information
Sandra Vermeulen
Interim Dean, Faculty of Arts


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