Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Christopher Walmsley

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Brandilynn Villarreal

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Rebecca Sharp

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories



Our growing national age and the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic stress the importance of conducting applied research that identifies effective systems of support for older adults as they age. Behavioral Gerontology is a promising field that applies behavior-analytic procedures to age-related issues. The current behavioral research has primarily focused on older adults in assisted living or nursing homes with major neurocognitive disorders. The current study hopes to add to behavioral gerontological research by applying previous research methods to novel populations. Direct observations were used to examine the effects of manipulating the physical dining layouts on the attendance, communication, and happiness levels of community-dwelling older adults in a congregate meal setting. The findings indicate indices of happiness, and communication increased in the social layout when compared to the original layout. Attendance increased in the personal layout in comparison to the original layout, however, indices of happiness decreased. The personal and social layout both increased observed and total attendance compared to the original layout. The results suggest these research methods are amendable to older adults with and without various diagnoses.

Citation Style