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Psychology graduate changing user experience through creativity

Lezxandra Saguid mixes creativity and psychology to better understand behavior

Portrait of ASU student Lezxandra Saguid.

Lezxandra Saguid mixes creativity and psychology to better understand behavior. Photo by Robert Ewing/ASU

August 12, 2022

When she first started at Arizona State University, Lezxandra Saguid's passion was music therapy. While waiting for entrance into the program, she decided to pursue another interest and went for a psychology degree. At first, she wasn't sure which direction to take, but eventually found that psychology was the perfect field to connect with her interests in music and the arts.

During her time in the Emerging Minds Lab, where researchers investigate how infants and young children learn about the world around them, Saguid bridged all her interests into one discipline: researching creativity development. Today, after graduating with her degree in psychology, she serves as project lead at the lab.

“I just think that every person is creative in their own way, whether they realize it or not,” said Saguid, adding, “A lot of times, creativity is encapsulated by music or art, but it can also affect our daily lives in the way we problem-solve, the way we invent things or innovate.”

Saguid's musical passion pushed her interests toward how individuals can create music or become creative in general. She wanted to research how music is utilized in order to make a difference in people’s lives. 

“Music just has that cultural impact on everyone. We listen to music, and we share experiences,” she said. 

Emerging Minds Lab

After deciding to pursue psychology, Saguid began researching what she could do with her degree and found herself browsing the labs in the Department of Psychology for research that aligned with her focus. She came across the Emerging Minds Lab in the fall of 2019, but applications had closed already. 

Undeterred, she emailed the lab manager and said, “I really want to be in this lab; how do I make this happen?”

The next semester she applied and was accepted. 

The Emerging Minds Lab is led by Assistant Professor Kelsey Lucca and investigates a variety of topics within early cognitive development, such as social cognition, decision-making, problem-solving, communication and reasoning. 

“We are a team of researchers at Arizona State University investigating how infants and young children learn about the world around them. Our primary research focus is in understanding how children’s early curiosity supports their thinking and reasoning, and what role the social and cultural environment plays in shaping early learning,” said Lucca.  

Saguid was able to start her own project on creativity and mentor other student researchers in the lab.

“Since it was a brand-new lab, I was able to be part of the process in every step of the research journey. It was really interesting, and I felt like not many students who go into research get to experience the whole process from start to finish,” said Saguid. “When I went into being a research assistant in the Emerging Minds lab, I didn't realize how much I was actually putting into real-life research. I really thought that I was just going to be on the computer, coding or typing out reports the entire time. Instead, I was actually making stimuli for actual research that was going to be published.”

When thinking about broader implications, Saguid thought about how there are various companies that promote creativity. And with research, creativity development is studied to better promote creativity.

This led to Saguid's aspiration to work for Disney or Pixar as a user experience researcher.  

“I believe that user experience and UX design works hand-in-hand with developmental psychology research. This experience has positioned me so uniquely that I’m really excited to see where my user experience journey takes me,” said Saguid. 

RELATED: Explore the Emerging Minds Lab on Instagram or on its research site.

Saguid used her time in the Emerging Minds Lab to conduct an independent project on creativity in children. Her project examined whether creativity plays a role in how children explore and learn about the world around them. 

“Lex was one of the first students to join the Emerging Minds Lab when we opened in the 2019–20 academic year. Lex has always been interested in trying to figure out ways to promote young children’s creativity. One of the challenges in identifying how to support children’s creativity is coming up with effective ways to measure creativity — since creativity looks different on everyone,” said Lucca, adding, “In this study, Lex is collaborating with other researchers in the lab to measure different types of creativity in young children (for example, both verbal and non-verbal expressions of creativity), along with children’s curiosity, vocabulary and ... executive functioning skills.” 

Saguid presented preliminary results from her research project at the Marconi Institute for Creativity conference last fall. 

“Over the years, it’s been so fun to see the development of Lex’s own creativity, as she has been spearheading our lab’s partnership with Psych-for-Life and designing interactive video modules for families designed to promote children’s creativity and early learning,” said Lucca.

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