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CELEBRATE! profile: Ivy Crank '09

Everyone knows “that guy,” the one with a pocket mirror who realizes just how good-looking he is. Chances are, if he thinks he’s cute, he’ll assume you’ve been checking him out, too. New scholarship to be presented at SURF by psychology major Ivy Crank ‘09 shows how that’s the case. Her work is the first in a weeklong series of E-net profiles to spotlight Elon undergraduate research during CELEBRATE! 2009.

“My research found that narcissism doesn’t really affect what you think of others,” said senior psychology major Ivy Crank. “Instead, it affects the way you think about yourself, and the way you think others will perceive you..."

Past scholarship has shown that people are often wrong in guessing the way they will be judged by others, according to Crank. Among narcissists, she says, this is especially true.

The senior psychology major and Elon College Fellow will present her research, “I Know I’m Attractive and that You Think So Too: The Influence of Physical Attractiveness and Narcissism on First Impressions,” at SURF on April 28, which follows a presentation at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research earlier this month.

“My research found that narcissism doesn’t really affect what you think of others,” Crank said. “Instead, it affects the way you think about yourself, and the way you think others will perceive you, or your metaperceptions.”

Crank said she was always fascinated by social relationships and particularly romantic attraction. It wasn’t until her mentor, psychology professor Maurice Levesque, mentioned narcissism that she began to pursue that subject.

“While there is literature on how narcissism affects perceptions of self, there is relatively little examining its effects on perceptions related to romantic attraction and even less on how narcissism may impact how one thinks others perceive [them].” Levesque said. “Ivy did great at identifying a set of relatively uncharted areas.”

Crank explained that her research identifies an area that has been largely untouched by psychology research, which is important, she said, because it dictates that a greater outer awareness might be necessary.

Her work looks into whether what we think about ourselves matches our metaperceptions, or what others think of us. Applying it to attraction in general, she said, we must ask whether or not we really “know” whether someone is attracted to us.

Crank had participants take a survey that measured how narcissistic they were - their feelings of superiority or entitlement, an over-estimation of their of abilities, or arrogance.

She then showed participants a Facebook profile of someone of the opposite gender, who Crank named “Rachel” and “Jeff.” The photos were of either highly attractive or highly unattractive people, and the written information was the same for both genders.

Immediately after the participants viewed the profiles, they were given another survey that asked questions about the person they’d just viewed. They were asked, “Do you find Rachel or Jeff attractive?” “Do you think Rachel or Jeff would find you attractive?”

Crank concluded that narcissists not only viewed themselves positively but also believed that Rachel or Jeff would see them as attractive and as more likable. Crank contends that just because people see themselves one way, it doesn’t mean that others will perceive them in the same fashion.

“Ivy and I have worked together to design the project that she carried out,” Levesque said. “Ivy has been the driving force behind the research, ensuring everything has been done to her high standards and in a timely fashion.”

Originally from West Virginia, following graduation in May, Crank will be taking a position with Teach for America in Washington, D.C., and then hopes to pursue law school in D.C. or at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

- Written by Bethany Swanson '09

Eric Townsend,
4/27/2009 8:05 AM