Smiley face symbols: students' reactions as a function of a professor's request to meet

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Vol: 17, Issue: 2

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Radford, Alyssa A.
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
article description
The college years are a period during which students transition from a parent-oriented environment to one in which they take greater responsibility for their personal and social development. Nonetheless, parents remain a lasting influence on children during these years. Attachment theorists have examined the degree to which attachment history with parents influences ones later interpersonal relationships and perceptions of others. For example, college students' attachment styles influence how they interpret a professor's request to meet (Perrine & King, 2004). The present research examined how securely and insecurely attached students differ in their reactions to a professor's written request to meet when a smiley face symbol is included in the request. Students imagined that they had received a poor exam grade in Dr. Smith's math class. They viewed a picture of the first page of the exam with either the note "Please see me" or "Please see me © " in red ink. Results showed that students had more positive reactions to the note with the smiley face than to the note without the smiley face and securely attached students had more positive reactions to both notes than insecurely attached students. These results suggest that college professors can influence how offers of help are interpreted by different students, and can easily encourage more students to seek help with the simple addition of a smiley face.