MC student's research lauded at annual conference

April 5, 2004
David Rasnake, Communications Assistant

Rhyannon Bemis, a senior psychology major at Maryville College, recently took home an award for research presented at a professional conference.

Bemis’s presentation earned her the Psi Chi Regional Research Award at the 50 th Southeastern Psychological Association Conference, held in Atlanta, March 10-13. In recognition of her achievement, Bemis received a certificate as well as a monetary award.

Based on her senior thesis, entitled “Did I Do That? Children’s Understanding of Truth as a Universal Value,” Bemis’s presentation examined how well children understand the concepts of truth and falsehood. Her research suggests that younger children evaluate the morality of lying based on consequences rather than ideas of truthfulness.

Maryville College Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Ariane Schratter, who advised Bemis’s thesis research, sees her student’s findings as making an important contribution to our understanding of child psychology.

“Rhyannon’s results have important implications for children’s eyewitness testimony and the moral instruction of children more generally,” Schratter said.

The senior thesis is one of the distinctive features of a Maryville College education. Under the guidance of a faculty supervisor, every degree candidate completes such a project in his/her major. The subject is of the student’s own choosing and may take the form of literary or historical investigation, laboratory or field research, an interpretive effort or a creative activity in art, literature or music.

Typically completed in two semesters, the senior thesis requirement is designed to allow students opportunities to exercise initiative, plan and complete a substantial piece of work and gain the confidence and pride that comes from accomplishment.

Bemis was one of five Maryville College students and two faculty members in attendance at the conference. Three other students also presented collaborative research at the meeting.

The Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) is a regional organization affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA). SEPA represents students and professionals within the field of psychology from 11 southeastern states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

A 2000 graduate of Knoxville Catholic High School, Bemis is the daughter of David and Janice Bemis of Maryville. Bemis, who intends to complete her degree at the College in May, currently serves as president of the Maryville College chapter of Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2013 semester is 1,168.