Distinguished Professor of Psychology
W112 Lagomarcino Hall
Department of Psychology
Research interests and Current projects
My research interests fall within the field of Health Psychology, and I apply them to a number of content areas. To illustrate, there are several projects currently underway in our lab. These include a study being conducted jointly with Dr. Stephanie Madon that focuses on the role played by stress and physiologic activity (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate) in criminal interrogations and confessions. In particular, we are exploring to what degree does experiencing stress and physiologic reactivity contribute to deciding to make a confession – and whether they might increase the likelihood of false confessions.
In another project we are cooperating with a clinical research trial being led by Dr. Nathaniel Wade which compares the effectiveness of different kinds of group therapy for treating community members who have experienced an interpersonal hurt. In our lab we assess the participants’ cardiovascular activity, including how it is affected by speaking about the hurt they have experienced. We plan to compare individuals in the different groups, and also how their responses change after they have participated in therapy.
In addition, with Dr. Carolyn Cutrona I am engaged in examining the association between relationship quality and health by analyzing longitudinal survey data of couples in long-term relationships. These data indicate that whereas warm and supportive relationships are not strongly related to health outcomes in nonhostile partners, such positive relationships are especially helpful to hostile partners’ health.
Undergraduate research laboratory experiences
My lab operates jointly with that of Dr. Stephanie Madon, meaning that we formulate and conduct many studies together, thereby providing both our graduate and undergraduate students with a range of experiences and opportunities in a very active research environment. We often have approximately 10-15 undergraduates who are mature, responsible, and enthusiastic – qualities that help create a fun and positive experience in a busy lab.
Graduate student experiences and expectations
Graduate students in my laboratory will be most likely to value their experiences to the degree that they seek the kind of training that will prepare them for research-focused positions, including those that conform to the research-practicioner model. By contrast, there will be a poor fit between activities and goals for those students who are less interested in research, and are primarily pursuing an advanced degree in order to do therapy, counseling, or clinical work.
Naturally, graduate students must demonstrate a number of characteristics, including being ambitious, responsible, detail-focused, organized, persistent and highly available throughout the entire year. Graduate students will be required to organize and conduct all phases of research studies, including scheduling, training, management, and oversight of undergraduate teams. The most successful graduate students will view their high level of activity and involvement in research projects as opportunities to improve their academic record. In return, the student will receive high-quality training and experience in conducting health psychology research, and will be offered the chance to contribute to manuscript preparation in sufficient degree to warrant authorship credit. Graduate students will also be encouraged to take a lead role in publication efforts, as appropriate. Ultimately, our goal is to position graduate students for research focused-academic careers such as those of tenure-track faculty, and to have them successfully attain such positions.