Return to the MWSU Homepage Dr. Teddi Deka - Department of Psychology

Dr. Teddi Deka, Professor
Missouri Western State University
Department of Psychology

  Psychology Office Honors Office
Location: Murphy Hall 217 - E Spratt Hall 202
Phone: (816) 271- 4445 (816) 271-4535

General Information about Teaching and Research

My sabbatical in Spring 2012 gave me opportunity to focus on three research lines, that I am excited to continue to pursue and involve students with. These are described in the "Research" section below.  All three involve opportunities for undergraduates to participate as researchers or through experiential learning at the sites involved in the research. 

During this same time, I applied for the Honors Director position. I became Honors Director in June 2012. Now I have two offices, two administrative assistants, and two roles!  In this position, I am primarily working on recruitment, our student groups, and boosting participation in departmental honors.  Please visit the honors website if you would like to find out more about the honors program at Missouri Western:

Because of this "dual role," I teach two courses per semester, primarily to majors in psychology.  As a developmental psychologist, I usually teach classes involving developmental psychology to psychology, education and nursing majors.  I also teach research team, actively involving students in research, and have mentored several Honors Independent Research projects throughout my tenure at Western.


Breast Perception: Four years ago I began investigating the seemingly contradictory ways that women think about their breasts. Admittedly, this line of inquiry was inspired by teaching psychology of gender for a number of years, Janet Jackson's nipple incident at the Super Bowl and later by trying to understand the disdain for breastfeeding that many women and men hold.  In my explorations, I found that there were really no assessments for how women perceived their breasts. Sure, there were ones about breastfeeding willingness, cancer screenings,Shawna Harris and augmentation, but not much addressing the different facets of breast perception (appearance, sexual, functional, identity).  The Breast Perception Survey went through three major revisions, an addition of an additional collaborator, Dr. Shawna Harris in Missouri Western's communications department, and two submissions to peer-reviewed journals. The reviewers wanted more participants, and we now have a dataset of 500.  Shawna and I hope to have this manuscript off once again for review.   My current research team (Fall 2012)  played a heavy hand in collecting the additional 300 individuals to add to the dataset, and also created their own line of inquiry comparing emerging adults, early adults and mid adults on appearance versus functional breast perceptions. Their award-winning poster at the 2013 Great Plains Conference compared male and female breast perceptions (click here to view)The picture is Shawna Harris, and her e-mail is

Emotional Intelligence: Now for the developmental research.  A few years back I began investigating emotional intelligence and its relationship to religious education.  With my research team, we surveyed middle-school children in parochial schools. This research resulted in an award-winning (1st place) presentation at the 2009 Great Plains Undergraduate Psychology Convention ( Click here to view ).  Next year's research team continued this research with public school children, presenting the research at the 2010 Great Plains Convention (2nd place) (click here to view ).  The following year, student Kayla Kelder and I expanded the research to high school parochial students and obtained a large dataset (over 600 teens).  She used some of the data from this set for her honors independent research project.  This manuscript, entitled "Investments in faith and family for emotional intelligence in adolescence," examines two variables from the social capital theory, religiosity and family closeness, and their effects on emotional intelligence levels of 14- to 18-year-olds.  Future plans are to expand the research to college-age students.

Children and Agency: Along with my research teams, I have been exploring how to increase children's sense of agency, particularly in behaviorally problematic children or those who have low social support.  Working with these children has been extremely fulfilling for me, and gave several students opportunities to interact with children and adolescents.  This research is in progress.

Research on Teaching:  I continue to explore ways to enhance college student learning.  This Spring, my presentation at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference involves improving service learning experiences and whether structure enhances such programs. (click here to view)