Kids Learn Financial Responsibility Best Through Real-World Experience, Fulton Student Finds

pexels-photo-325154How can parents best teach their young adult children to manage their money well? Sam Runyan, a BYU School of Family Life student found that “practice makes perfect.” He interviewed 90 undergraduate students from various American universities, and found that, by enlarge, parents used experiential teaching to teach their children how to manage and spend money, how to work hard for their money, and how to become independent and self-reliant. He presented the results of his study at our college’s annual Fulton Conference,  where he and his co-authors won first place for their department.

Specifically, their study found that parents taught their young adults beginning when they were young, by doing the following:

  • Opening a bank account for their children
  • Giving them an allowance
  • Helping them understand smart spending
  • Giving them opportunities to work


Sam has seen the benefits of these teachings in his own life: “My parents taught me to work hard to earn money through chores around the house and different jobs, and they taught me how to spend and manage my money once I earned it.  They ultimately taught me to become an independent person, and as I got older they gave me more opportunities to do things on my own.  I think that because they taught me in that way, I was able to financially support myself when I went to college.”

He further described its universal importance :“Today, the millennial generation struggles to manage money as wisely as past generations.  In our day, it can be easy to make foolish mistakes with our money.  I believe it is important for people to learn how to avoid those mistakes so that they can financially take care of themselves and improve the lives of those around them.” He hopes that researchers, educators, and future parents will take his study’s results and and implement them in teaching their children about financial responsibility.

sfl first place

Where Next?

Sam’s project was part of a larger study examining the financial practices of emerging adults, something about which relatively little research has been conducted. More quantitative (i.e., numerical) data will now be gathered to supplement the qualitative (i.e., verbal). He says: “Our study gives us an accurate picture about the ways parents are teaching their children today, and the next step would be to find the most effective ways parents can help their children learn.”

The Fulton Conference

About the Fulton Conference, he said: “[It] was a really good experience.  It was great to be able to present our research and see all the work that other students have done this year.  I loved the opportunity to talk with other students and professors to share research with each other.  Seeing everyone’s posters and the hard work they put in helped me appreciate the opportunities we have at BYU.  It was also a great opportunity to work with such an amazing research team.  Dr. Hill, Dr. Marks, and all the wonderful students I worked with have made an impact in my life.  I was able to participate in a great study and at the same time make a lot of amazing friends.  Overall, the Fulton Conference was a wonderful experience, and I loved the opportunity to celebrate the great accomplishments of so many students.”

How did your parents teach you financial responsibility?

Fulton Anthropology 1st Place Winner: Telisha Pantelakis Researches Hmong People

There is a group of people, the Hmong, originally from southeast Asia and China, that found themselves somewhat like the Syrian refugees of today, spread all over the world. Persecution, cultural traditions, shifting agricultural practices, and political strife drove them to migrate to America, China, French Guiana, Laos, Australia, Vietnam, France, Thailand, Argentina, and Canada, in what is called the Hmong Diaspora. Those few Hmong that stayed in China were classified for years as “miao,” a vague census category used to classify all strange and backward looking non-Han people in southern China.” Today, Hmong in countries other than their own “see double,” as American-born Hmong Mai Der Vang said in a 2011 Washington Post editorial: “Somewhere in my American identity, in my fluent

Picture courtesy of Luis Mata on Flickr.

English and Western clothing, in my reliance on technology and my college degree, the exile lives in me, too.  Writer Andre Aciman says, ‘Exiles see double, feel double, are double. When exiles see one place, they’re also seeing – or looking for – another behind it.’” Brigham Young University Anthropology student Telisha Pantelakis presented anthropological research she had completed about the Hmong population in France, and the ways in which they “saw double” medically speaking, at our recent Fulton Conference. Her poster won first place at the conference in the Anthropology category.

Medicine and the Hmong

“Current U.S. literature has attributed Hmong difficulties adapting to Western culture, specifically health care from shamanic practices,” said Pantelakis and her co-author Madison Harmer. “[That literature] claims that traditional and western healing practices are incompatible. While living in a small town in central France, we conducted an ethnographic study observing Hmong refugees and their interactions and beliefs between traditional healing practices and Western medicine to explore this claim.” Why did Pantelakis and Harmer choose this topic? She says: “…It was interesting to me how a South East Asian migration group ended up in France. I did some research, and was captivated by Hmong history. They are a people without a country, yet have been able to keep their culture thriving wherever they go. I wanted to learn more, especially about their traditional healing methods and shamanism.”

Her Research

Telisha got her wish. Through her research she discovered that there was no disparity between the traditional and modern medicines. Hmong healer and shaman VanMeej Thoj said: “You must take medicine first. You must be somewhat well, then you can go see a shaman and he can see why you’re sick.” This attitude is in direct contrast to previous reports on the Asian clan’s culture.  Before beginning her study, she had to read a plethora of research on the Hmong people and their relationship with contemporary medical practices. She says, “I went to France and saw that not only were Hmong ‘model minorities’, but that they utilized the medical system without issues.”

Her poster was titled “Collision or Cohesion? Hmong Shamanism and Ontological Holism in France.” Mentored by Professor Jacob Hickman, she, along with her co-author Madison Harmer studied how the Hmong culture meshed their traditional medicinal practices with modern ones.

anthro 1st place


When asked what she hoped would happen as a result of her research, Telisha replied: “I really think it is a unique opportunity to add to the literature pool on a [lesser]-known population. Dr. Hickman is hoping eventually to compile all his research into a website of sorts in order to make information available to Hmong individuals as well. To Hmong individuals whom I lived with last summer, it would be exciting for them to see that their history is being recorded through academic articles as well. They were so willing to share their stories with us, because in their French community they had never had people come to study their culture before. They want to share their culture with everyone.”

What’s Next?

What’s next for Telisha and her research? She and Harmer presented their research at a national conference in New Mexico in March of 2017, and are preparing to present again at the American Anthropological Association national conference in Washington D.C. this Fall. Currently, she and professor Jacob Hickman are writing a paper based on her findings which they hope to have in the process of publication by the year’s end.

The Fulton Conference

The Fulton Conference was an invaluable experience for the Anthropology student. She described her experience in the following words: “I loved it! I’m so glad our professors let us know of the opportunity. It gave us a chance to gain some experience with poster presentations, as I have only ever given oral presentations at conferences previously. I am grateful to the Fultons for providing this opportunity for students to share their research while getting to network with students from other majors and enjoying a delicious meal. I will definitely do it again next year.”

Did you or will you participate in the Fulton Conference?

Reminder: Fulton Conference poster submission is soon

The deadline for the Fulton Conference poster submission is in two days!

Deadline for poster submissions:

Thursday, March 30, 2017 at noon

Mentored Research Conference: Thursday April 13, 2017

  • For information on why you should enter, if you haven’t already, go here.
  • For instructions on how to make a poster, watch this video.
  • For information about the prizes that will be awarded, go here.
  • For information about what you need to do on the day of the conference, go here.
  • Any other questions, go here or email Jamie Moesser at



Increase Your Understanding: Fulton conference

There is perhaps no more unique an opportunity for us to support research that increases everyone’s collective ability to understand the world around us and to engage with the people around us, and to see what great work our undergraduate students are capable of, than at the annual Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference. This year’s conference is just around the corner, and promises to inform on topics such as internet addiction, adolescent romantic relationships and their relationship to depression, and parental school involvement and responsible children, and many others.

The Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences is pleased to host the 13th Annual Mentored Student Research Conference on Thursday, April 13, 2017. The conference will be held in the Wilkinson Student Center Ballroom from 9:00 a.m. – 12 p.m. and is open to the public.  The conference will feature research done in the areas of neuroscience, sociology, social work, psychology, family life, geography, anthropology, history, political science, and economics.

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The conference is a unique opportunity for hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students to present their most recent research visually and succinctly. Parents and family members, students across the Y’s campus, and members of the community are invited.

About Mary Lou Fulton

The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences honors the life and contributions of Mary Lou Fulton by designating a chair in her name. Mary Lou was a wonderful example of a Latter-day Saint woman who, after devoted service raising her family, returned to college to finish her degree. Throughout her life, Mary Lou sought to help those with personal challenges, whether assisting her own students who struggled with reading or rendering quiet service to neighbors and ward members.

During her lifetime, Mary Lou and her husband Ira supported causes and programs that uphold and strengthen the family unit. This goal continues to be a high priority for Ira, as well as helping others remain free of addictive substances or crippling afflictions that limit their possibilities in life.

Fulton Photo

About the Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair

The Mary Lou Fulton Endowed Chair provides meaningful research and educational experiences for students, faculty, and children. Mary Lou’s passion for educating and elevating others is reflected in the many elements of the chair, established by her husband Ira A. Fulton in 2004 to honor and recognize her example. The Chair also funds internship grants, professorships, and young scholar awards.



How Landscape Affects Fire Recovery

8598789914_1c1055225f_zMany states, including Utah, often experience devastating wildfires.  These disasters are especially prevalent during the hot, dry months of summer.  While environmental restoration from these fires can be a lengthy process, could the landscape of the area increase the recovery rate?

This inquiry was taken on in conjunction with our college’s recent Fulton Conference.  The study was conducted by a team of geography students comprising of Alan Barth, Roxanna Hedges, Kevin Ricks, Ben Seipert, and Dr. Matt Bekker, their faculty mentor.  Their research showed a positive correlation between an environment’s recovery rate and its vegetation and slope.

The Experiment

The team chose to research the 2007 Salt Creek Fire in Utah’s Juab and Sanpete counties.  This site allowed them to study both the effects of the slope aspect and the rates of the maple and scrub oak tree recovery compared to the juniper trees.

Speaking of their research process, the students explained, “We used imagery from 2006, just before the fire, as our control, and imagery from 2014 for visualizing sufficient regrowth time.  We then analyzed this imagery by running landscape metrics…measur[ing] spatial characteristics of patch, classes of patches, or the landscapes…We also used the slope aspect map to analyze the vegetation types based on the slope aspect.”


Following their research, the students found that “the oak and maple scrub vegetation increased after the fire because the oak and maple scrub sprout from roots and grow at a more rapid rate. Juniper took the longest to recover from the fire. This is likely because juniper grows slowly compared to maple and oak scrub.”

The study also discovered that the slope of the hill and its direction affected how fast the environment would recovery.  From their maps, the students founds that the north facing slopes grew back at a quicker rate than the south facing slopes.  They hypothesized that “this is likely explained by the amount of sunlight that these slopes receive. The south facing slopes in this terrain grew back slower due to receiving more sunlight throughout the day and not being in the shade like the north facing slopes. Being in the shade allowed for the north facing slopes to retain water more water while the south facing slope water evaporated more quickly or became run-off.”

Landscape Ecology of Fire Recovery

The Effect

The findings of this study could help ecologists to better understand the timeline and effectiveness of wildfire recovery.  By furthering knowledge in this field, changes could be made to improve environmental recovery as well as potentially wildfire prevention.

To learn more about wildfire prevention, go to the following website.

Pictures courtesy of Flickr.

Does Utah’s Poor Winter Air Quality Hurt School Attendance?

Northern Utah’s unique geographical situation leads to periods of crippling inversion during certain times of the year, primarily the month of January.  With this poor air quality causing many negative health effects, young children are frequently kept inside for recesses during times of inversion.  But, could the inversion be affecting more than just recreation?  What if the existence of inversions altered school attendance in general?
In conjunction with our college’s recent Fulton Conference, a team of economics students including Nicholas Hale, Ryan Allen, and John Cannon, researched this concept.  Their research found a positive correlation between elementary school absences and air pollution.

The Results of the Study

The team studied four different Utah school districts: Alpine, Provo, Salt Lake City, and Park City.  Using Park City School District as a quasi-control district because of its higher elevation and subsequent lower exposure to poor air quality, they were able to track school attendance and then compare those numbers to the fluctuating inversion levels.
Previous research showed that an increase in air pollution was associated with a 1.5 to two percent increase in elementary school absences.  Researchers predicted that, during an inversion episode, the percentage of absences could triple to six percent or higher.
Though this may sound like an unfavorable statistic, the research shows that air quality, and thus the correlated attendance levels, has actually been improving when compared with decades past.
Courtesy of Flickr.

The Impact of the Study

Nicholas Hales, one of the student researchers, explained, “In 1992, Dr. Pope [a faculty mentor for the project] published a paper that explored a positive association between air pollution exposure and elementary school absences in Utah Valley.  This study was conducted during a time when air pollution levels were much higher in Utah Valley due to the operation of a large steel mill.  Our more recent study was conducted to see if this association persisted at today’s lower levels of air pollution.”
Because the research shows a continued correlation today, the findings could help resolve problem in the future.  Says Hales: “[The research] may be evidence that, if air pollution were further reduced in Utah Valley, elementary school attendance might increase marginally. I think this research would be interesting and potentially helpful to parents, teachers, and others involved in elementary education.”
The details of Hale, Allen, and Cannon’s study are presented in their winning poster below:
A Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Elementary School Absences and Air Pollution.jpg
The purpose of the conference at which Hales and his co-authors presented their poster was to provide an opportunity for students, both undergraduate and graduate, to participate in and present meaningful research in their field of study. Looking back on his experience, Hales stated: “I loved being involved in the Fulton Conference.  It was a great opportunity for me to explain the research I participated in to a wider audience.  I really appreciated the opportunity to prepare my poster and present it.  I would definitely encourage other students to participate in the future.”

Women are Less likely to Take Risks. But Why?

ma girl 2.jpg

When was the last time you took a risk?  Did you think long and hard about it – weighing all your options? Or was it a snap decision? Research shows that women are less likely to take risks than men. But the reason might be different than you think.

Hal Miller, professor of Psychology at Brigham Young University, has developed a new method of experimentation to measure the human emotional response to gains and losses in risk-taking and decision making. He found that women’s brains react more intensely to perceived gains and losses. However, this does not mean that women are necessarily more emotional, but that a woman’s emotional reaction to a loss is, on average, greater than her emotional reaction to a gain, when compared to men’s reactions.

ma girl 3.jpg

To illustrate this point, let’s imagine two scenarios:

1.) Imagine that you and I bet 100 dollars on the flip of a coin. You guessed heads and you won. The 100 dollars is yours. Do you want to keep the money? Or should we go double or nothing?

2.) Now, let’s change the scenario. You and I bet 100 dollars and you guessed heads. Sorry pal, you lost. Now, do you want to accept the loss and walk away? Or do you want to go double or nothing?

As humans, we dislike losing more than we like winning. That’s why the average person is more likely to try a double or nothing bet in scenario 2 than in scenario 1.

ma girl.jpg

New experimentation

In 2002, a man by the name of Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel prize for an explanation of this phenomenon, and how it applies to economics. It’s called prospect theory. In short, Kahneman concluded that we make decisions based on how we perceive our potential gains and losses. He also proved that we are more likely to avoid risks when there is a potential loss than when there is a potential gain.

“We actually have a pretty good idea of the ratio…or by how much people hate losing more than they love winning,” said Kahneman. He estimated that it was somewhere between a 2:1 and a 3:1 ratio.

Dr. Miller, through his new methods, has identified, via electroencephalogram (EEG) brain-wave technology, a more precise measurement of how much more we hate losing than we love winning. The average human ratio is 2:1, the reaction to a loss being greater.

The difference between Kahneman and Dr. Miller’s experimentation is that Kahneman measured people’s cognitive decision-making. Miller’s experiments, however, are strictly behavioral. They only measure the behavior in relation to the emotions experienced.

Further, “[The experiments used by Kahneman] were largely hypothetical,” says Miller, “whereas our experiments are in real time and real space; real loss and real gain.”

Are our Decisions More Determined than we Think?

It is possible, then, that human risk-taking is more determined than we think it is. It is possible that our experiences and emotions govern our decisions more than we would like to admit. The implications of Dr. Miller’s findings are interesting to consider.




Eye-Opening Study May Improve Diagnosis of Autism and Anxiety


The diagnoses of autism and anxiety by psychological clinicians may have a critical problem.

BYU students AnnaLisa Ward, Kevin Stephenson and Max Maisel have spotted a potential weakness in the measurement of autistic symptoms. Analyzing a common autism diagnostic test, the Social Responsive Scale (SRS), they found that it may misidentify symptoms of anxiety as indicators of autism. Their  findings were presented at a recent research conference at BYU.

The SRS is a survey given to psychiatric patients to differentiate symptoms of autism from symptoms of other disorders. Since people who live with autism often live with anxiety as well, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two. But a diagnosis of anxiety does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of autism. Yet this study found that among people with high symptoms of anxiety, fifty percent of them actually score high enough on the SRS to be diagnosed with autism. Some even scored high enough to be categorized as “severely” autistic – even though they did not have autism. Their anxious symptoms could have been mistakenly accepted as indicators of autism.


“So we see that there is likely a problem with the measure that we are using,” says Kevin Stephenson, a doctoral student in clinical psychology. “When using this test, clinicians may need to take a step back and ask, ‘Is this really autism or is this just anxiety?’ And the data we have provided will most likely lead to improvements on the diagnostic measurements.” The study is being prepared for publication.

What Can WE Do to understand Mental Disorders?

Studies like this can inform a “measure twice, cut once” mentality regarding the diagnosis of autism. The better the diagnostic tool for a mental issue, the higher the likelihood of a correct diagnosis, and the more effective the treatment for the afflicted person. Conversely, if the tool is not as finely tuned as it could be, then diagnoses might be difficult or faulty.

Similarly, each of us need to develop a “measure twice, cut once” attitude in our associations with the mentally disabled. When we learn that someone has autism, anxiety, or depression, do we take the time to know what they experience before we jump to conclusions about how to help or associate with them?

People with autism often do not feel understood by those around them. Yet one in 100 people have autism. So you likely have people in your life who experience it. Do you know them? Are you aware of what they may go through? Perhaps we need a little exposure to what autism is:

Being informed on these kind of mental issues, and how to best associate with people who have them, is essential to removing stigmas and improving the lives of effected individuals and their families. There are resources available in your community and all across the web. For more information on autism, visit or BYU’s: Autism Connect.

The details of Ward, Stephenson, and Maisel’s study are portrayed in their winning poster below:

Ward et al poster

Do you know someone with autism or anxiety disorder? How has that effected your understanding?



Daddies or Dummies: Is the Media Teaching Our Youth to Disregard Dad?


A new study reveals that the media may not only be portraying fathers negatively, but actually teaching youth to disrespect and disregard their dads. In an era where the role of dads is coming into question, these findings shed light on a possible widespread problem.

Tweens Respond to Dad

Savannah Keenan, recent winner of the college’s Fulton Conference in the category of Family Life at BYU,  found that almost 40 percent of fatherly behavior on popular tween television shows like the Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie could be considered ridiculous or buffoonery. But what is truly eye opening is the on-screen response of children to their fathers. Fifty percent of it is negative.

Child actors on television programs were often seen doing things such as:

  • rolling eyes
  • making fun of father
  • verbally and non-verbally criticizing
  • walking away
  • expressing annoyance

Does it Affect our Youth?

Children tend to model behavior they see on the TV screen. The National Institutes of Health have documented this. So when a child sees this kind of anti-dad behavior on their favorite TV show, they may pick up cues from their child-actor counterparts, and eventually exhibit similar behavior. Further, their attitude toward the importance of dads may eventually turn sour as they learn from the television that it is okay to disrespect their father.

“We know that dads are often portrayed negatively in the media,” says Keenan. “But not a lot of research has been done that shows how the father portrayals in the media actually affect real-life behavior and attitudes of children. I think the most important thing we need to know now is: how is this affecting our kids? If these television shows are portraying dads as incompetent— especially when they’re directed toward such a sensitive age group as tweens—what are these kids going to think about their own dads?”

Positive Change in the Media

Many people in the media actually admit that the portrayal of fatherhood is inaccurate and possibly damaging. And they are beginning to respond. Dove’s #RealDadMoments campaign is a fine example:

Studies like those done by Keenan can inform the media of the negative consequences of portraying fathers in a negative light. And hopefully, future findings will encourage the media to produce even more positive content for youth and families.

Keenan’s findings are portrayed in her winning poster, below (also on display on the ninth floor of the SWKT):


How does the media in YOUR home portray Fathers? How do your kids react?

Is Religion the Reason for Low Contraceptive Use in Nepal?

india-1247052_1280An estimated 225 million women today would choose to stop or delay childbearing, but are not using contraceptives. Why is this the case? Is it because they do not have access to them? Or because they are not allowed to make childbearing decisions for themselves? Answers to these question are essential to improving women’s autonomy and health across the globe. And a new study of Nepalese women shows that a more important factor than access to contraceptives may be religious attitudes towards them.

Who Uses Contraceptives?

Margo Andersen Taylor, an undergraduate student in the BYU Sociology Department, has gathered new evidence that has broken down old assumptions about women’s autonomy and contraceptive use in Nepal – a country with low contraceptive use. She presented her findings at our recent Fulton conference.

It is often assumed that people in rural populations are less likely to use contraceptives because they do not have access to them. People who live on farms, for example, might not live close to a physician or a store where they could get “the pill” or a contraceptive device. However, Andersen’s newfound evidence suggests that being in a rural setting actually does not deter women who are allowed to make personal and/or household decisions from accessing contraceptives. In fact, the difference between urban dwellers’ use of contraceptives and rural dwellers’ is almost entirely negligible.


Why Then, are Contraceptives Not Used?

If women in rural settings are not likely to be kept from contraceptives, why are there so many Nepalese women who do not use them? This study, with a sample size of almost 10,000 Nepalese women, showed that autonomous women of the Hindu faith were more likely to use contraceptives than Buddhist women. In fact, the most autonomous women of Buddhist affiliation were among the least likely to use contraceptives.

According to this study in Nepal, when it comes to contraceptive use, it doesn’t seem to matter so much where you live, but what you believe.


Religion Matters

The government of Nepal is currently running a media campaign to inform its citizens about options for better family planniwoman-701050_640ng, directing most of these messages to people in urban settings. Their hope for change, however, is likely based on the false assumption that this urban-directed campaign will be most effective because urban populations have greater access to contraceptives.

Andersen believes that it’s likely Nepal would have more success in achieving their goals of increased health and population control if they were to focus their campaigns on religious groups rather than regional populations. Her data is being prepared for publication that may help the government of Nepal to take a more effective approach in their endeavors to improve women’s autonomy and health.

Andersen’s poster (seen below) won first place in the sociology category of the conference.

Family Planning and Women's Empowerment in Nepal Margo Anderson Taylor