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Simpson College Student Chosen To Present Innovative New Research On Gaslighting At Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium

New research explores the topic of ‘gaslighting’ at research symposium at Johns Hopkins University


Simpson College (simpson.edu) senior, Paige Bendt-Wake is among a select group of college students chosen to present research at the inaugural Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium hosted by Johns Hopkins University. She will present her research on the topic of self-gaslighting as it relates to sexual assault. Due to COVID-19, this year’s symposium has been moved to an online format to be completed by the end of April. 

“What sets Simpson College apart is our commitment to preparing students for a wide range of career opportunities in research or any number of different fields of study,” said John Pauley, professor of philosophy. “The innovative research conducted by Simpson College students — and the support they receive — is unrivaled. The contribution Paige’s research makes to some of today’s most complex issues involving the topic of gaslighting, will set a foundation for others to follow,” said Pauley.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that occurs when one person tries to convince another to second-guess their instincts and doubt their perception that something is real. In her research, Bendt-Wake — a senior double-majoring in psychology and philosophy — explores the notion of self-gaslighting, which causes a sexual assault victim to engage in self-blame. 

“As a member of Simpson’s Sexual Assault Response Advocates (SARA) and a survivor of sexual assault, I realized that victims oftentimes blame themselves in some capacity,” said Bendt-Wake, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work. “The research shines a light on the cultural aspects of sexual assault. It showcases that, even without a second or third party, people can harm themselves due to a skewed cultural notion about sexual assault victims,” said Bendt-Wake.

For more information on Simpson College’s undergraduate research opportunities, please visit simpson.edu/research.

About the Symposium
The Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium is an annual symposium hosting students from across the nation interested in presenting their scholarship. It is the first conference of its kind: there has been no other national platform for undergraduates in the humanities to share their work. 

About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has approximately 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and approximately 400 part-time students. Simpson offers more than 80 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.