Press Release for Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UNF Undergraduate Student Shares Research on Capitol Hill

 Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 




Marissa Lovvorn, a University of North Florida senior majoring in psychology, presented her research on risky decision-making in the business world across cultures last week on Capitol Hill as part of the 15th annual Posters on the Hill, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.  


Lovvorn, an Intracoastal West resident, was the only Floridian and among 74 undergraduate students from across the nation chosen to present the results of their independent research in science, math and humanities to members of Congress, congressional staff, federal government officials and academics. Students participating in the Posters on the Hill event were competitively selected from approximately 700 applicants.  


 “I believe Posters on the Hill provides an important opportunity to showcase not only the very impressive accomplishments of individual students but also the tremendous potential of undergraduate research,” said Nancy Hensel, executive officer of Council Undergraduate Research.  


Lovvorn and her faculty advisor, Dr. C. Dominik Güss, a UNF psychology professor, received funding from the Humboldt Foundation to conduct their research in the United States and in Germany. Risky decisions in the business world and banking industry have led to financial meltdown and to the global recession the world faces today. Their current research investigates the influence of cultural values of uncertainty avoidance and reduction of ambiguities on dynamic and risky decision-making. 


 One hundred ten students in colleges of business from Germany and the U.S. acted as managers of a computer-simulated chocolate-producing company for two hours making business decisions. It was expected that a) American participants would take more risks, while managing this unfamiliar chocolate business than German participants, and b) in both samples, those with high uncertainty and ambiguity avoidance would show less risky decision-making.  


Risky decisions were defined by large investments, making drastic changes to production including product innovation, and by showing a more changing/fluctuating strategy overall. Results of the research supported the expected cross-cultural and within-cultural differences, showing the influence of cultural values on decision making. Results also offer information that may predict success of different businesses in the United States and Germany. 


 After researching several cognitive cross-cultural differences, Lovvorn would like to continue research on these concepts throughout graduate school. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I have been given to begin as a researcher during my undergraduate years,” she said. “I am eager to attend graduate school and I aspire to one day be able to conduct my own research.”  


Lovvorn has a 4.0 GPA and has been on the Dean’s List at UNF since 2008. She has received a Terry University Scholarship since 2008, which is awarded only to outstanding students with extraordinary test scores and performance in school. As a part of the community, she tutored elementary students in reading for about five year and has also volunteered with Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital, assisting stroke victims as well as those suffering other severe injuries.