Research Themes and Current Studies

Stresses on the Emotion System

In our first core line of research, we study how stress, broadly construed, disrupts emotional processing in individuals and couples. We examine a range of potential stresses and their consequences for emotional reactivity and regulation, from effects of job stress on couple interactions to emotion in individuals with functional neurological disorders, specifically functional seizures (also called psychogenic nonepileptic seizures). Depletion of executive resources and emotional suppression or avoidance have emerged as key themes in these studies.

Specific projects include:

*Funded through the Institute for Mental Health Research


In addition to stresses on the emotion system, we examine ingroup bonds, humor, and affection as processes that potentially counteract adverse effects of depletion, suppression, and stress. We also evaluate clinical interventions that target these underlying affective processes.

Specific projects include:

Culture and Emotion

In our second core line of research, we examine emotion as a function of cultural context. Our work goes beyond an examination of ethnic group differences to investigate how processes such as cultural ingroup match, values and beliefs about emotion, and implicit racial attitudes shape emotion processing. We consider culture in terms of race/ethnicity, as well as in terms of other subcultures such as police and military.

Current and past projects include:


Our studies evoke actual or “real time” emotions using tasks such as partner interactions, relived emotional memories, emotional pictures/films, acoustic startles, decision-making, and simply making participants sit and wait. We augment this work with online surveys from larger samples. We measure multiple aspects of emotion and related cognitive processes:

Together, these studies reveal how cultural and biological forces shape emotional responses. They point to areas of the emotion system that are fairly inflexible to change, as well as those that may be more vulnerable to disruption—yet also amenable to intervention.

Sample Student Conference Poster

See also: