Research

Summary

Because emotions are relevant to nearly every sub-discipline of psychology, our research sits on the boundaries of multiple areas of research (e.g. social-personality, clinical, cognitive neuroscience, developmental). We integrate across these areas both in terms of the types of questions we ask and in the methods we use to address them. For example, our work brings together experiments that isolate causal mechanisms with longitudinal studies that examine how psychological processes unfold naturally over time. Our research is also multi-level. It examines how phenomena play out across different levels of analysis (e.g., explicit, implicit, autonomic, neural, behavioral, cultural, social network) to build integrative models of how they operate.

See below for a description of some of our ongoing research projects.

Projects

  • Self-Talk

    Although it may seem strange, most people silently talk to themselves at times. We all have an internal monologue that we engage in from time to time. Why do we do this? When does this capacity develop? And what effect does it have on our ability to manage the way we think, feel, and behave under stress? In this line of work, we explore these questions.

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  • Meaning Making and Self-Distancing

    Common wisdom suggests that it is helpful to understand one's feelings when bad things happen. But people's attempts to do this often backfire, leading them to ruminate and feel worse. In this line of work, we explore how this puzzle can be resolved by focusing on the role that self-distancing plays in facilitating adaptive self-reflection.

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  • Online Social Networks & Well-being

    Online social networks are rapidly changing the way people interact. Over a billion people login daily to interact with Facebook, the world’s largest online social network. Yet we know remarkably little about how these interactions influence the way people think, feel and behave. Our laboratory is currently exploring these issues in a variety of directions.

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  • Teaching Self-Control

    There are currently many efforts underway to improve self-control among students. Most of these involve training children how to enhance the building blocks of self-control (e.g., executive functions), teaching them how to implement specific strategies, or developing socio-emotional competencies more broadly. Although many of these approaches have been linked with positive outcomes, none focus on comprehensively educating children about the “science of self-control”—what is it? How does it work? What strategies support it, and why is this knowledge important? In this project we are partnering with talented childhood educators to develop and evaluate a classroom curriculum about teaching the science of self-control.

  • Wisdom & Emotional Intelligence

    Although many people strive to be wise, they often fail to do so when reasoning over issues that have profound personal implications. Consider, for example, the unemployed worker who stops searching for employment during tough times under the assumption that the job market will never improve or the party loyalist who predicts doomsday if the candidate they support loses the election. In this line of work, we are examining how wisdom can be enhanced when people reason about profoundly meaningful personal issues.

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  • Social Rejection, Physical and Emotional Pain

    Being rejected is among the most “painful” human experiences. Research in our laboratory aims to discover why this is true. We are also interested in understanding the processes that allow people to cope effectively with rejection rather than become consumed by it.

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