Past Features

January 27, 2009 (Vol. 9, No. 1)

Lehman Alumna Wins Award for Research

Zenaida Bough
Zenaida Bough

Lehman alumna Zenaida Bough ('08) just may have uncovered the reason they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Bough, who majored in psychology, won the prestigious 2008 Scarpetta Award last semester for her psychometrics experiment, "How Much is a Picture Worth if it Biases Responses to Career Assessment Surveys?"

The experiment was inspired by an assignment Bough received in Psychology Professor Vincent Prohaska's class, where students were asked to complete a survey on the Career Services website. "I told him I thought the survey was biased because there were pictures being shown together with the questions," says Bough. Professor Prohaska encouraged her to develop a research project based on her hypothesis.

Bough created a survey similar to the one on the Career Services site, where she matched various images with the same questions and charted whether or not respondents would answer those questions differently. Her findings proved her hypothesis that a photo, when paired with a question, can influence the way the question is answered.

Professor Prohaska invited Bough to present her findings at the Greater New York Conference on Behavioral Research, which aims at encouraging and recognizing excellence in behavioral research by students. Bough took home the Scarpetta Award for outstanding undergraduate research, one of four annual awards the Conference presents to outstanding student researchers.

"I was happy, excited, and very proud of myself," says Bough, who had always been very afraid of public speaking. "It felt good to be recognized for all the hard work I put into it."

Originally from Boston, Bough has lived with her daughter in New York City for twelve years. The Mt. Vernon resident came to Lehman after a ten-year absence from school. Although it took her six years to earn her bachelor's degree, Bough says it was worth it. "It was the best thing I ever did," she says. "It's amazing how many opportunities open up for you with a degree. I feel I'm free to finally do anything I want to do."

Bough graduated from Lehman magna cum laude in the spring of 2008 and received honors from the Psychology Department. Currently the coordinator of freshman programs in the English Department, she hopes to pursue a master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology at Baruch College and eventually work as a corporate consultant in an area like human resources.