Elizabeth Schroeder, a graduating senior in Psychology, is the recipient of the 2016 Dashiell-Thurstone Prize.
The Dashiell-Thurstone Prize is awarded each year for the best senior honors thesis, as judged by a faculty committee. This award is named in memory of two significant figures in the life of the Department of Psychology: John Dashiell, who founded the Department in 1920, and Leon Thurstone, who founded the Psychometric Research Laboratory in 1953, which later became a significant component of the Department.
Elizabeth, working with her mentor Dr. Mark Klinger, won for her outstanding senior honors thesis, titled “High Early Parental Expectations Predict Improved Independent Living and Quality of Life for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Elizabeth conducted an innovative and informative investigation that involved a 20 to 40 year follow-up of individuals with autism spectrum disorder who had been evaluated as children at the UNC TEACCH Autism Program between 1965 and 1999. Her findings indicated that even after the severity of symptoms had been taken into account, the parents’ predictions of how well their children would do in the future predicted their grown children’s functioning decades later when they were now adults. The findings point out how the power of parents’ beliefs in their children’s abilities might influence their children’s functioning far into the future. Elizabeth was honored at the Psychology and Neuroscience Commencement Ceremony on May 8, 2016.