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Psychology

Research Programs

Faculty in the Department of Psychology lead a variety of research programs.  Students who are interested in attending graduate school after completing their undergraduate education are encouraged to get involved with faculty research, usually during the junior year.   Below is a listing of research groups that are currently active in the department. Click on the title of each research group for more detailed information regarding the current projects.

Context Attention Memory and Perception (CAMP)

Several research projects are all influenced by an interest in Context: While mental processes are often described as if they are free of context, an alternative explanation involves the internal and external contexts for those processes that are vitally important influences. Internal contexts include variables like a person’s age, intelligence, experience, personality, emotional makeup, among others. External contexts include those factors that influence a person’s orientation to the task at hand, and the whole variety of stimulus characteristics — that is, the objects of cognition. Of course, internal and external contexts also interact with one another!

Research in CAMP is also involved in visual cognition, theory of mind and learning, cognition and instruction.  These questions are pursued through a variety of methods aimed at exploring both basic and applied aspects of research.  One primary area of research revolves around the question of why it is often difficult to search for multiple objects at once.  This question, as well how we mentally represent objects during visual search, is best revealed through monitoring eye movements during various visual search tasks.  By understanding the basic question of how we represent objects to guide search, we may better understand more critical applied research questions like how to improve visual search for airport security screeners.  A secondary area of research is devoted to investigating projects in applied cognitive and educational research.

Family Relationships, Culture, and Well-Being Research Group

Christina Hardway and her students examine the roles that family relationships play in the trajectory of development in terms of how these relationships are associated with psychological well being and achievement outcomes.   More specifically, this team of researchers examines the associations between qualities of children’s interpersonal relationships and their social and cognitive skills as they transition into and through formal education settings.  As part of this work, members of this research group investigate whether and how the nature of these associations is moderated by culture.

Selected Publications

  • Hardway, C., & Fuligni, A. (2006). Dimensions of Family Connectedness Among Adolescents with Mexican, Chinese, and European Backgrounds. Developmental Psychology, 42, 1246-1258.
  • Hardway, C. L., & Duncan, S. D., Jr. (2005). Me first! Structure and dynamics of a four-way family conflict. In L. Anolli, S. D. Duncan, Jr., & M. Magnusson. (Eds.). The Hidden Structure of Social Interaction. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IOS Press.
  • Fuligni, A., & Hardway, C. (2004). Preparing Diverse Adolescents for the Transition to Adulthood. The Future of Children, 14, 99-119.

    Emotions, Self and Development Research Group

In this group, Michael Mascolo and his students examine the nature, role and development of emotions in children, in adults, and across cultures.  Students analyze moment-by-moment changes in the production of emotion in children and adults.  The group is interested in changes in self-evaluative emotions such as pride, shame, and guilt; the development of anger; the role of emotion in promoting change in psychotherapy; and cultural similarities and differences in the experience of emotion. 

Selected Publications

  • Mascolo, M. F., & Fischer, K. W. (2007).  The co-development of self-awareness and self-evaluative emotions across the toddler years.  In Brownell, C. A., & Kopp, C. B. (Eds.). Transitions in early socioemotional development: The toddler years.  New York, N.Y.: Guilford Press.
  • Mascolo, M. F., Misra, G., & Rapisardi, C. (2004).  Individual and relational conceptions of self-experience in India and the US.  In Mascolo, M. F., & Li, J. (Eds.).  Culture and self: Beyond dichotomization (pp. 9-26).  New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development Series.  W. Damon (Series Editor).  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
  • Mascolo, M. J., Fischer, K. W., & Li, J. (2002). Dynamic development of component systems of emotions: Pride, shame, and guilt in China and the United States. In R. J. Davidson, K. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of Affective Science. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.

Love, Sex and Relationships Research Group

Of all the emotions that philosophers and psychologists study, love is amongst the most difficult to understand.  What is love?  In this research group, Michael Mascolo and his students examine the nature of love and related emotions.  We ask, is there a difference between “partnership love” such states as “being in love”, “infatuation” or similar experiences.   This group is also interested in the meaning of sexuality in loving relationships.  The popular press is replete with books and articles about sexuality.  But none of these ask the important question: What is the meaning of sexuality in loving relationships?  How does sexuality function as a vehicle for the expression of genuine intimacy or for the development of relationships?   The group uses a variety of methods in their work, including interview and online surveys. 

Psychotherapy Process Research Group

In this group, Michael Mascolo and his students study the types of developmental changes that occur in psychotherapy.  The group examines videotapes, audiotapes and transcripts of psychotherapy sessions conducted with therapists from different theoretical orientations.  The group analyzes changes in the organization of the client’s of thinking, feeling and actions over the course of psychotherapy, as well as the therapeutic processes that lead to those changes.

Selected Publications

  • Basseches, M., & Mascolo, M. F. (in progress).  Psychotherapy as a developmental process.  Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Mascolo, M., F., Michalek, M*., Sorensen, G*., & Hunt*, R. (2002).  The microdevelopment of adult selves in psychotherapy: An intersystemic activity approach.  Paper presented at the 17th annual meeting of the Society for Research in Adult Development, New York, New York, June, 2002.
  • Mascolo, M. F., Craig-Bray, L., & Neimeyer, R. (1997).The construction of meaning and action in development and psychotherapy: An epigenetic systems approach.  In G. Neimeyer & R. Neimeyer (Eds.), Advances in personal construct psychology (Vol. 4) (pp. 3-38). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.