Commencement '22: newly minted graduates tell their stories

Mark Ostow

Mark Ostow

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Phoebe Cardenas  
Fairfield, Connecticut
Benjamin Franklin College

Did you expect to major in psychology?
I came to college thinking I would be some kind of STEM major. What changed my course was I joined a sketch comedy group: in the first week of Yale, someone convinced me to go to a joint recruitment show for Red Hot Poker—the group she was in—and The Fifth Humour, the one I eventually joined. I began to get curious about comedy. When we laugh, what is making us laugh? How do you structure a joke?

How does this connect with your psychology major?
I’ve used psychology to think about storytelling and comedy. Professor Margaret Clark, who directs the Relationship Science Lab, and Dr. Jen Hirsch [’18PhD] have done a lot of research about belonging. Belonging can be fulfilled by close relationships. But they have theories about other ways to fulfill this need, and one proposed path is immersion in fictional worlds or stories. I was able to conduct two studies that became my thesis. The first was about who is more likely to choose a fictional world [movies, reading, or television] as the path to belonging, and the second was about the outcomes of making that choice.