Current Research Projects
Psychosocial Gains from Adversity (PGA)
This line of research is examining the ways that acute stress can stimulate reductions in pre-existing psychological distress and improvements in positive functioning through changes in social behavior and the social environment. A number of our papers have documented this phenomenon, which we describe as "psychosocial gains from adversity" (PGA), including articles in Journal of Individual Differences, British Journal of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychological Science and Psychological Medicine. We are studying PGA in the lab using analogue stressors and experimental designs. We are also examining it using large datasets. A recent paper put forth a theoretical framework explaining why, and under what conditions, it can occur, published in Psychological Review.
Network Analyses of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
This line of research is using network analysis techniques to better understand the longitudinal development of PTSD symptoms. Network analyses challenge assumptions the traditional diagnostic understanding of psychopathology and focus instead on how symptoms influence one another in a causal system or network. In one current study, we are examining changes in the network structure of symptoms in a sample of survivors of the Virginia Tech Campus shootings. Network analysis can help refine therapeutic targets and theories of PTSD.
Hurricane Sandy and Social Factors - A Collaboration with the The World Trade Center Health Registry
This collaboration is using longitudinal data that has followed a large representative sample of first responders and persons exposed to the 9/11 terrorist attacks throughout the New York Metropolitan area. The World Trade Center Health Registry was developed to document and evaluate the long-term physical and mental health effects of 9/11 and gaps in care. We are using surveys conducted before and after Hurricane Sandy to better understand the consequences of the storm for social relationships and adaptation to its negative effects.
Stressful Life Events
This study is investigating factors that help people cope with normative life stressors, such as romantic breakups, academic difficulties, and family and friend conflicts, among a student population. Approximately 600 Introductory Psychology students have participated in longitudinal studies over four semesters
Analogue Trauma Exposure
This line of research is using analogue stressors, such as video stimuli, to better understand the stress response, with a focus on individual differences in the persistence of intrusive memory. We use randomized designs and brief longitudinal follow-up surveys to explore the role of threat appraisal, personality factors, and group processes on intrusive memory persistence.