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Student selected for Achievement Conference

Penn State Berks senior Amro Fadel, a Business major with a Communications Arts and Science minor, was the only undergraduate student to present research at Penn State's Achievement Conference, held February 20-21 at The Nittany Lion Inn, State College. This ninth annual event was presented by the Black Graduate Student Association with the intent of fostering relationships among juniors, seniors, and graduate students of color, along with faculty and administrators.

Fadel presented his research, "Does Homophobia Play a Role in Verdict Decisions? Examining Sexual Orientation and Participant Sex." His research explored whether rates of homophobia would vary as a function of verdict decisions, sex of participant, and sexual orientation of the defendant.

His hypothesis that males high in homophobia would be more likely to provide harsher sentences when the defendant was homosexual was partially supported.

Fadel's research also suggests, however, that individuals assigning second-degree verdicts for heterosexuals were also high in homophobia. These results suggest that the attitudes associated with homophobia (religiosity, conservatism, etc.) may be more directly related to verdict decisions than homophobia per se, according to Fadel. For instance, it appears that participants likely to assign second-degree murder verdicts are more homophobic in general.

"I was really honored to have been chosen as the only undergraduate student to present at the achievement conference," comments Fadel. "The judges gave me a lot of insightful comments that will help me in future research. Many of the judges were surprised to find out that this was my undergraduate research project."

As a Business major with a Communications Arts and Science minor who always had an interest in law and social sciences, Fadel is an example that research outside of one's major area of study can be rewarding. "You don't have to be limited to your major or minor to do research, but instead look for what you have passion for and go with it."

Since completing this research, Fadel has also presented at the Association of Psychological Science (APS) convention in Chicago and the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in St. Louis.

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