Faculty Research

Leonard A. Doerfler, Ph.D.
Professor and Director, Clinical Counseling Psychology Program
Director, Aaron T. Beck Institute for Cognitive Studies at Assumption College
Diplomate and Fellow, Academy of Cognitive Therapy
Certified Trainer/Consultant, Academy of Cognitive Therapy

"My research program is focused on practice-based research, which attempts to integrate science and practice. One way to achieve this goal is to use evidence-based assessment measures as the standard of care when providing mental health services. In other words, treatment decisions should, whenever possible, be informed by information provided by psychometrically validated measures of psychological symptoms and functioning. 

For my research, I have collaborated with colleagues in community agencies to examine a wide range of clinical questions and issues. My collaborators include colleagues at Assumption College and mental health professionals in the University of Massachusetts Medical School Departments of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Pediatrics, as well as the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Community Healthlink, the Bridge of Central Massachusetts, and ServiceNet.

Because data for my research were generated through the course of routine clinical services or activities, my research has been able to address questions that are important to practicing clinicians. My research program involves close collaboration with practitioners who usually spend most of their time with clinical or administrative activities."

Descriptions of Dr. Doerfler's current research collaborations and programs:

Child and Adolescent Psychopathology

This research examines important aspects of psychological disorders and adaptive functioning in a sample of over 300 children and adolescents who were referred for evaluation to an outpatient psychopharmacology clinic. Our most recent research focuses on co-occurring disorders, particularly co-occurring internalizing disorders (depression, anxiety) and externalizing disorders (ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder).

Collaborators for these studies are:

  • Daniel F. Connor, M.D.., Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center
  • Jeffrey Danforth, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Peter F. Toscano, Jr., Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Adam M. Volungis, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College

Recent publications:

Danforth, J. S., Connor, D. F., & Doerfler, L. A. (in press). The development of comorbid conduct disorder in children with ADHD: An example of an integrative developmental psychopathology perspective. Journal of Attention Disorders.

Doerfler, L. A., Connor, D. F., & Toscano, P. F. (2011). Aggression, ADHD Symptoms, and Dysphoria in Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. Journal of Child and Family Studies20, 545-553.

Doerfler, L. A., Connor, D. F., & Toscano, P. F. (2011). The CBCL Bipolar Profile and Attention, Mood, and Behavior Dysregulation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 131, 312-319.

Doerfler, L. A., Toscano, P. F., & Connor, D. F. (2009). Sex and aggression: The relationship between gender and abuse experience in youngsters referred to residential treatment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18, 112-121.

College Mental Health

There is growing concern that since the 1990’s there has been a sharp increase in the number of college students who experience serious mental health problems. Some research suggests that the nature and severity of mental disorders of students who seek counseling at college counseling centers is changing and perhaps increasing, but the research on this topic is limited.

We have been examining the nature of students’ presenting problems and the types of psychotropic medications prescribed for these problems in a sample of over 500 college students who were referred to a psychiatrist by college counseling center staff for psychopharmacology evaluation and treatment.

My collaborator for these studies is:

  • Daniel Kirsch, M.D.., Director of College Consultation Service, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical Center

Recent presentations:

Kirsch, D., & Doerfler, L. A. (2013). Mental health issues among college students: Who gets referred for psychopharmacology evaluation? Poster presented at the 47th annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, TN.

Kirsch, D. F., Doerfler, L. A., & Jojic, M. (2014) Antipsychotic Use Among College Students. Poster presented at 12th annual Depression on College Campuses Conference. Ann Arbor, MI, March 12 – 13, 2014.

Manuscript submitted for publication:

Kirsch, D., & Doerfler, L. A. Mental health issues among college students: Who gets referred for psychopharmacology evaluation?

Kirsch, D. F., Doerfler, L. A., & Jojic, M. Atypical Antipsychotic Medication Use Among College Students.

Adolescent Substance Abuse

This research evaluated the psychometric features of a measure of motivation or readiness to change in a sample of over 500 adolescents who had been admitted to an inpatient substance abuse treatment program. Using this same sample, we examined whether adolescents’ level of motivation and substance abuse and mental health diagnoses were able to predict which adolescents would be admitted for another cycle of inpatient treatment. In this study, 12% of adolescents were readmitted for further treatment, and 80% of readmitted adolescents returned to the inpatient program within 6 months of discharge. However, measures of motivation, substance abuse and mental disorder diagnoses, and demographic characteristics did not accurately predict which adolescents would be readmitted to the inpatient program.

Presently, we are initiating a new study to attempt to determine whether post-discharge factors like peer (e.g., partying with teens who use drugs or alcohol) and family variables (e.g., parental monitoring) have a significant association with relapse. We will also examine the relationship between personal characteristics (e.g., depression, oppositional/defiant behavior) and relapse following discharge from inpatient treatment.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Daniel Melle, MSW, LICSW, Community Healthlink
  • Karen Albert, MS, Center for Mental Health Services Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Monika Kolodziej, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Rosalie Torres Stone, Ph.D., Center for Mental Health Services Research & Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Gina Vincent, Ph.D., Center for Mental Health Services Research & Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Recent presentations:

Doerfler, L. A., Melle, D., & Fisher, W. H. (2012). Do SOCRATES scores predict readmission to an inpatient substance abuse program for adolescents? Paper presented at the 46th annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, National Harbor, MD.

Doerfler, L. A., Melle, D., Haddad, D., & Cram, M. (2011). Psychometric evaluation of the SOCRATES in adolescents admitted to an inpatient substance abuse treatment program.  Paper presented at the 45th annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Toronto.

Manuscripts submitted for publication:

Doerfler, L. A., Melle, D., & McLaughlin, T. Factor Structure and Sensitivity to Change of the Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale (SOCRATES) in a Sample of Adolescents Admitted to an Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Program.

Doerfler, L. A., Melle, D., McLaughlin, T. J., & Fisher, W. Predictors of Readmission to an Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Facility for Adolescents.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Community-Based Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Programs

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. Although DBT has been shown in randomized controlled trials to be effective in reducing the occurrence of suicide attempts, admission to inpatient psychiatric treatment, and non-suicidal self-injury, little is known about the efficacy of this treatment in community programs or agencies that are not affiliated with university-based research programs.

For this research, I have collaborated with colleagues in 2 non-profit community agencies to evaluate the efficacy of their DBT programs with adolescents and adults. We have completed 2 evaluations with one program, and we are about to begin collecting data at another agency to evaluate outpatient DBT programs for adolescents and adults.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Karen Albert, MS, Center for Mental Health Services Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • James Frutkin, Vice President of Clinical Services, ServiceNet
  • Carl Fulwiler, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Center for Mental Health Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Jennifer Geertsma. Director of Applied Research, ServiceNet
  • Barent Walsh, Ph.D., Executive Director, the Bridge of Central Massachusetts

Recent publications:

Walsh, B., & Doerfler, L. A. (2009). Residential treatment of self-injury. In M. Nock (Ed.), Self-injury (pp 271-290). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Walsh, B. W., Doerfler, L. A., & Perry, A. (2012). Residential Treatment in Adolescents Targeting Self-Injury and Suicidal Behavior. In B. W. Walsh, Treating self-injury: A practical guide. New York: Guilford Press.

Evaluating Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

This research evaluated the impact of a collaborative care model that was designed for primary care pediatricians and child psychiatrists to improve access to mental health services for children and adolescents. This evaluation found that a collaborative care program could serve as a model of care that addresses the barriers to accessing pediatric mental health services.

We also are working on a project to explore the feasibility of creating an interactive video game for middle school students to deliver a cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention to reduce bullying behavior among these students.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Onesky Aupont, M.D., MPH, M.A., Ph.D., Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Daniel F. Connor, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center
  • Thomas McLaughlin, Sc.D., M.A., MDiv., Director of Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Recent publication:

Aupont, O., Doerfler, L. A., Connor, D. F., Stille, C., Tisminetzky, M., & McLaughlin, T. J. (2013). A collaborative care model to improve access to pediatric mental health services. Administration and Policy in Mental Health, 40, 264-273.

Evaluating Mental Health Services in a Medical Home Program for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

This research will evaluate the types of medical and mental health problems experienced by individuals who receive services through the Medical Home program provided by the Intellectual Disabilities Clinic in the Psychiatry Department at UMass Memorial Health Care.

My collaborator for this research is:

  • Lauren Charlot, Ph.D., LICSW, Director, Neuropsychiatric Disabilities Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Evaluating the Association of Substance Abuse, PTSD, Depression, and Anger

This research will examine the relationship of severity of substance abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and anger in a sample of Latino males who are admitted to a residential substance abuse treatment program.

My collaborator for this research is:

  • Matilda Castiel, M.D., Executive Director, Latin American Health Alliance, Associate Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Paula Fitzpatrick, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

"My research program focuses on the development of fine motor skill, the relationship between motor coordination and social skills, and the contribution of social coordination to social deficits in atypical populations. I record time-series records of movements and investigate patterns of coordination in young children, adolescents, and families.  These movement patterns allow me to model the important dimensions of behavior with the promise that the models can be applied to create treatments and interventions to help remediate problems.  I also conduct research on teaching and learning psychology.

For my research, I have collaborated with colleagues at national and international colleges and universities as well hospitals and medical schools.   My collaborators include colleagues at Assumption College, College of the Holy Cross, Illinois State University, University of Cincinnati, University of Groningen, University of Crete, Worcester State University, University of Massachusetts Medical School Department of Psychiatry, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

My research program is basic science research.  My research is important for translating new knowledge about social and fine motor deficits into treatments and interventions to help children and families struggling with social and motor problems.  My research has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Assumption College Collaborative Pilot Research Program."

Descriptions of Dr. Fitzpatrick's current research collaborations and programs:

Social Interactions in Children with Autism

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have numerous impairments in social interactions that can severely impede mental and physical development, learning, and behavioral functioning and also make successful treatment difficult. This research is designed to gain a better understanding of the etiology of the social deficits in ASD.  We are exploring the role of an overlooked dimension of social interaction, social movement coordination (e.g. body language), in ASD. 

Our research suggests that social movement coordination may provide a fertile new ground for exploring potential avenues for intervention and may provide a pathway for improving social skills in children with ASD. 

My collaborators for this project are:

  • Somer Bishop, Ph.D., Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB)
, Weill Cornell Medical College
  • Amie Duncan, Ph.D., Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Michael Richardson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Cincinnati
  • Richard Schmidt, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross

Recent publications:

Fitzpatrick, P., Diorio, R. Richardson, M. J., & Schmidt, R. C.  (2013). Dynamical methods for evaluating the time-dependent unfolding of social coordination in children with autism.  Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience7 (21), 1-13. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2013.00021

Schmidt, R. C., Morr, S., Fitzpatrick, P., & Richardson, M. J.  (2012). Measuring the dynamics of interactional synchrony. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 36, 263-279.

Fitzpatrick, P. A., Diorio, R., Richardson, M. J., & Schmidt, R. C.  (2012). Exploring the role of interpersonal motor coordination in the breakdown of shared representations in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 34 (supplement), S21-22.

Schmidt, R. C., Fitzpatrick, P., Caron, R., & Mergeche, J. (2011). Understanding social motor coordination. Human Movement Science30(5), 834-845.

Social Synchrony in Adolescents with Autism

We know that children with ASD have deficits in coordinating thoughts and ideas with others (social mental coordination), but the specific processes underlying such impairments are not yet understood. The research I have been doing with my collaborators suggests that an important key for increasing our understanding of ASD-specific social deficits may lie within the movement coordination that takes place within a social context. When human beings interact, we implicitly coordinate our bodies in synchrony with each other.

This project explores social synchrony in ASD. Our initial results suggest there may be an autism-specific social synchrony movement signature.  We are currently designing studies to evaluate the neural circuitry involved in social synchrony using both EEG and fMRI technologies.

My collaborators for this project are:

  • Jean Frazier, M. D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopment Initiative (CANDI)
  • David Kennedy, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Neuroinformatics
  • Ludovic Marin, Ph.D.,
  • Teresa V. Mitchell, Ph. D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center 

  • Richard Schmidt, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of the Holy Cross

Recent presentation:

Schmidt, R. C., Fitzpatrick, P. & Marin, L. What do autism and schizophrenia tell us about modeling behavioral dynamics? Invited paper presented at The Guy Van Orden UConn Workshop on Cognition and Dynamics VIII, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, August 2013.

Learning to Use Tools During Preschool

Learning to use hand-held tools during childhood is an important accomplishment and involves two complementary functions of the hands—using the hands to perceive tool properties and using the hands to perform a goal-directed action with a tool.  The approach the current research takes is to analyze the structure of the movements of children using tools to see how it changes based on task, age, and the relation between perception and action.

This is an innovative approach to the study of tool use development and lays the foundation for exploring how new forms of behavior emerge and understanding what drives the process of developmental change.  This research has important implications creating assessments for early detection of motor control problems in children and developing more effective interventions, evidence-based educational curriculum recommendations, and guidelines for parents.

My collaborators for this project are:

  • Raoul Bongers, Ph.D., Center for Human Movement Science, University of Groningen
  • Michael Riley, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Center for Cognition, Action, & Perception, University of Cincinnati
  • Jeffrey Wagman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Illinois State University

Recent publications:

Fitzpatrick, P., Wagman, J. B., & Schmidt, R. C.  (2012).   The role of haptic variables in altering movement dynamics in a preschool hammering task.  Special Issue of Journal of Psychology (Zeitschrift für Psychologie), Using Tools:  From Movements to Environmental Effects, 220 (1), 23-28.

Fitzpatrick, P., & Flynn, N.* (2010).  Dynamic touch perception in preschool children.  Ecological Psychology, 22 (2), 89-118.

Developing Handwriting During Elementary School

An emerging body of research suggests that there is an important link between handwriting skill and emerging literacy in young children.  Children who struggle with handwriting tend to have more difficulty recognizing letters and write shorter and less complex compositions.  Once handwriting becomes automatic, it frees up attention to be able to focus on other cognitive tasks.  As a result, effective handwriting instruction should be targeted at promoting handwriting efficiency and automaticity. 

This research is designed to assess what types of handwriting instructional methods are currently used in school systems and compare the effectiveness of different instructional methods at increasing handwriting efficiency and automaticity.  We are currently in the process of finishing up a three-year longitudinal project analyzing thousands of writing samples from children in kindergarten through grade 4.

My collaborator for this project is:

  • Nanho Vander Hart, Ph.D., Department of Education, Assumption College

Recent publications:

Fitzpatrick, P., Vander Hart, N., & Cortesa, C.*  (2013).  The influence of instructional variables and task constraints on handwriting development.  The Journal of Educational Research, 106 (3), 216-234.

Vander Hart, N., Fitzpatrick, P., & Cortesa, C. * (2010). Evaluation of handwriting instruction practices in four kindergarten classrooms.  Reading and Writing, 23 (6), 673-699.

Parent-Child Interactions and Developmental Outcomes

During infancy and early childhood children’s motor, cognitive, social and emotional behavior is continually changing as they learn, grow, and develop.  Whether these changes result in optimal child outcomes depends on a variety of factors that can interact with each other in complex ways.  For example, children learn by exploring and interacting with their environment, observing and imitating adults and other children, and interacting with their parents and caregivers.  Family dynamics—marital quality, co-parenting behavior, and family expressiveness—provide another important set of influences on child outcomes. 

This research adopts a unique approach in tracking family and child outcomes across a wide variety of domains using longitudinal assessments from the prenatal period through the first year of the child’s life.  This research adopts a clinical-developmental perspective that can provide important insights for developing comprehensive prevention and intervention programs to promote optimal child development.

My collaborators for this project are:

  • Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Regina Kuersten-Hogan, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Maria Markodimitraki, Department of Psychology, University of Crete

Recent presentations:

Kalpidou, M., Markodimitraki, M., Fitzpatrick, P., Pateraki, M., & Kuersten-Hogan, R.  (2013).  A Cross-Cultural Study of Imitation and Emotional Climate in Mother-Infant Interactions the First Year of Life.  Poster presented at 16th European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Lausanne, Switzerland, September, 2013.

Fitzpatrick, P., Januszewski, J.*, Tocco, K.* & Kalpidou, M.  (2013).  Relationship between spontaneous imitation during 12-month free-play and prenatal marital quality and coparenting perceptions.  Poster symposium presented at the Society of Research in Child Development 2013 Biennial Meeting, Seattle, Washington, April 2013.

Teaching and Learning Psychology

Creating learning environments and curriculums to promote student success is an important underlying goal of higher education.  This requires understanding how to most effectively design academic programs as well as which educational techniques, practices, and assignments promote long-term learning in individual courses.  One line of research evaluates the outcomes of Assumption’s curriculum on Psychology student outcomes.  In another line of research I explore the impact of specific educational practices within psychology courses on student learning.  This type of research is important for making informed decisions in revising the curriculum at both the departmental and course level.

My collaborators for this project are:

  • Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Champika K. Soysa, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Worcester State University
  • Keith Lahikainen, Psy. D., Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies, Assumption College

Recent presentations:

Soysa, C.K., Lapoint, S., Lahikainen, K., Fitzpatrick, P., & McKenna, C  Psycho-educational outcomes in underprivileged students: Cultural-capital and self-esteem.  Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI,  August, 2013.

Soysa, C.K. & Fitzpatrick, P. Writing in Introductory Psychology: Teaching text, Technology, and transdisciplinarity.  Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI, August, 2013.

Fitzpatrick, P.  Bodies and behavior:  Linking biology and psychology in a first-year program.  Paper presented at the Society for the Teaching of Psychology:  Best Practices:  Teaching Introductory Psychology Conference.  Atlanta, Georgia, October, 2011.

Fitzpatrick, P., & Kalpidou, M.   Assessing academic programs and using the findings for curriculum revision and strategic planning:  Examples from a Psychology department.  New England Educational Assessment Network Fall Forum 2006, Closing the loop:  Using findings for improvement, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, November, 2006. 

Maria D. Kalpidou, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology

"My expertise falls in the area of social and emotional development of young children. I have conducted research on behavioral and emotional regulation, imaginary companions, and attachment to comfort objects. Recently, I have focused more specifically on the period of infancy to explore infant attachment and its relation to sensory processing and eating competence. I am currently studying early social interactions between infants and their caregivers with focus on language, imitation, and cultural differences. Lastly, I am involved in a project about the effects of postpartum depression on early infant development and how this relationship is mediated by family dynamics and bio-psychological factors. I have been collaborating with several faculty from Assumption College and other institutions. My research program expands to accommodate undergraduate students and their interests."

Descriptions of Dr. Kalpidou's current research collaborations and programs:

Postpartum Depression, Family Dynamics, and Infant Development

In this new project that is funded by both UMass and Assumption College we combine neuroimaging, hormonal, and observational data to examine the possible effects of postpartum depression on early infant development and expectations about family life.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Regina Kuersten-Hogan, Ph.D., Assumption College
  • Kristina Deligiannidis, M.D., UMass Medical School

Transition to Parenthood Study

This longitudinal project addresses the factors that predict transition to parenthood and was initiated by my colleague Regina Kuersten-Hogan. I have expanded this research by focusing on several outcomes of infants. My results show that infants with sensory processing difficulties are at risk for an insecure attachment, that infant security is predicted by the sensory processing styles of the caregivers, and that harmonious coparenting and parental scaffolding relate to greater eating competence. 

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Regina Kuersten-Hogan, Ph.D., Assumption College
  • Paula Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Assumption College                      
  • Thomas Power, Ph.D., Washington State University
  • Sheryl Hughes, Ph.D., Baylor School of Medicine
  • Fang Zhang, Ph.D., Assumption College

Publications:

Kalpidou, M., DiGiammarino, R. (2012). Sensory Processing and Parental Bonding Predict Infant Attachment. Proceedings of the XV European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Bergen, Norway, 37-41. Medimond International Proceedings.

Presentations:

Kalpidou, M., Power, T., Hughes, S., Fisher, J., & Tocco, K. (2013, April). Prenatal and Postnatal Family Dynamics and Infants’ Eating Behaviors. In R. Kuersten-Hogan (Chair), Predicting Infant and Family Functioning at the end of the First Year: The Impact of Prenatal and Postnatal Family Dynamics, Poster Symposium conducted at the Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development, Seattle.

Nardelli, J., & Kalpidou, M. (2012, June). Temperament and Parental Bonding Relate to Fathers’ Responsiveness in Father-Infant Interactions. Poster presented at the XVIII Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Minneapolis, MN.

DiGiammarino, R., & Kalpidou, M. (2012, May). Sensory Processing and Attachment Relate to Eating Competency in Infancy. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, IL.

Kalpidou, M., Zhang, F., DiGiammarino R., & Kuersten-Hogan, R. (2011, August). Sensory Sensitivity and Parental Bonding Predict Infant Attachment. Poster presented at the XVth ESDP European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Bergen, Norway.

Kalpidou, M., DiGiammarino R.,  & Kuersten-Hogan, R. (2011, April). Sensory Processing Relates to Infant Attachment. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society of Research in Child Development, Montreal, Canada.

Imitation in Infancy

The goal of this project is twofold. We are interested in cross-cultural differences in imitation in the context of mother infant interactions by comparing our data from our Transition to Parenthood Study and data from a Greek sample. We are also interested in investigating the development of imitation and other joint-attention behaviors during the first year of life.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Maria Markodimitraki, University of Crete
  • Paula Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. Assumption College

Presentations:

Kalpidou, M., Markodimitraki, M., & Pateraki, M. (2014, July). Developmental Changes in Imitation in Mother-Infant Interactions. Poster to be presented at the Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany.

Kalpidou, M., Markodimitraki, M., Fitzpatrick, P., & Pateraki, M. (2013, September). A Cross-Cultural Study of Imitation and Emotional Climate in Mother-Infant Interactions the First Year of Life. Poster presented at the XVIth ESDP European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Children with Imaginary Companions

Are children with imaginary companions (IC), either invisible friends or personified objects, different in emotion regulation and competence form children who do not have ICs? Our research showed that IC presence and type did not differentiate coping strategies, but children with egalitarian relationships with their imaginary friends chose more effective coping strategies and teachers rated them more socially competent than children with hierarchical child-IC relationships.

My collaborator for these studies is:

  • Dr. Tracy Gleason, Wellesley University, Wellesley, MA.

Publication:

Gleason, T., & Kalpidou, M. (in print) Imaginary Companions and Preschoolers' Coping and Competence. Social Development.

Attachment to Comfort Objects

The attachment to comfort objects is a frequent phenomenon in western cultures. Previous research has failed to link such attachment to insecurity in the mother-infant attachment. My research shows that the emotional connection to a favorite object is rather a sensory one. Children with attachments to comfort objects are reliably different in sensory processing styles from children without such attachment. This research is currently ongoing.

Publication:

Kalpidou, M. (2011). Sensory Processing Relates to Attachment to Childhood Comfort Objects of Undergraduate Students. Early Child Development and Care. doi:10.1080/03004430.2011.630733

Presentation:

Kalpidou, M., & Gilson, C.  (2010, May). Sensory Processing Differences in Children with and without Comfort Objects. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.

Collaborations with students:

I regularly supervise undergraduate student research and I am truly excited to see this work move into the stage of publication even though it is outside my research area!

Our Facebook study was among the first ones that were published in the area of student well-being. We showed that when students use Facebook as a social tool they benefit in terms of college adjustment. We also found a negative association between number of friends and self-esteem. In a recent study initiated by students, we showed that people who were induced to experience empathy were less likely to find pleasure in someone else’s misfortune. These findings expand our current understanding of disparagement humor.

Publications:

Kalpidou, M., Costin, D., & Morris, J.  (2011). The Relationship of Facebook and Well-Being of Undergraduate College Students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Bui, P. P., Kalpidou, M., DeVito, L. E., & Greene, T. (under review). The Effects of Induced Empathy on Disparaging Humor. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research.

Regina Kuersten-Hogan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology

"I am a child clinical psychologist interested in family interaction patterns and children’s cognitive and emotional development. My current program of research focuses on exploring coparenting dynamics and family emotion communication during the transition to parenthood. One of my past projects involved comprehensive assessments of pregnant couples in the last trimester of their pregnancy and postpartum assessments when their infants were 3 and 12 months old. For the follow-up at 12 months, I collaborated with several colleagues from our department to provide intensive assessments of various aspects of infants’ development, including their temperament, attachment behaviors, joint attention, and imitation which we found correlated with family dynamics emerging even prior to birth.

I also collaborate with psychiatrists from UMass Medical School on a couple of ongoing research projects. In one of these projects, we are investigating the role of coparenting and family dynamics in women and their partners who are at high risk for developing postpartum depression. Another project I am developing in collaboration with UMass Medical School and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at UMass Memorial Hospital involves assessments of families with infants hospitalized in the NICU to determine whether parental depression and anxiety and disrupted coparenting dynamics predict families’ post-release adjustment.

My research studies commonly include intensive interviews with participants, direct observations in the laboratory and home environments, as well as the use of standardized and specially developed rating scales. While I mostly study families and children, another ongoing research study of mine involves assessments of Undergraduate students’ perceptions of family-of-origin experiences. In this study, I am interested in exploring whether mental representations of family dynamics are associated with adults’ emotion recognition skills."

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Kristina Deligiannidis, MD, Department of Psychiatry, UMass Medical School
  • Paula Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Jean Frazier, MD, Department of Psychiatry, UMass Medical School
  • Maria Kalpidou, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Amy Lyubchik, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Alan Picarillo, MD, Department of Pediatrics, UMass Memorial Hospital
  • Gina Trachimowicz, MD, Department of Pediatrics, UMass Memorial Hospital
  • Fang Zhang, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College

Selected recent presentations & publications:

Kuersten-Hogan, R., McHale, J. & Bellas, V. (Under Review). Coparenting and emotional expressiveness in preschool families: The utility of mealtime observations. Journal article submitted to the Journal of Family Psychology.

Kuersten-Hogan, R. (In Preparation). Bridging the Gap Across the Transition to Coparenthood: Prenatal Predictors of Postpartum Coparenting Dynamics. Journal article to be submitted to Family Process.

Kuersten-Hogan, R., Kalpidou, M., & Fitzpatrick, P. (2014, July). Triadic interactions from pregnancy through the first year: Prenatal predictors of postnatal coparenting and family expressiveness. In: M. Deschenes (Chair): Quality of the family triad during infancy and beyond: Prenatal and postnatal influences. Symposium to be presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Berlin, Germany.

Kuersten-Hogan, R. (2014, June). Invited Discussant for S. Schoppe-Sullivan (Chair): Correlates and consequences of intuitive parenting in the Prenatal Lausanne Trilogue Play (Prenatal LTP). Symposium to be presented at the World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Kuersten-Hogan, R., Fitzpatrick, P., Kalpidou, M., & Lyubchik, A. (2014, June). Predicting infant functioning in the first year: The role of prenatal and postnatal coparenting dynamics and family expressiveness. In C. Lavanchy Scaiola (Chair): Links between early family interactions and children’s social-emotional development in the toddler and preschool years. Symposium to be presented at the World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Kuersten-Hogan, R. (2014, June). Coparenting observations during the first year: Do contextual factors matter? In N. Favez (Chair): Different contexts, different results: The influence of contextual variables in early assessment and intervention. Symposium to be presented at the World Congress of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Kuersten-Hogan, R., Chirichetti, K., Wilcomb, C. (2014, March). The role of family-of-origin perceptions of coparenting and emotional expressiveness in adults’ emotion recognition. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Human Development, Austin, Texas.

Kuersten-Hogan, R. (2013, September). Invited Discussant for F. Frascarolo (Chair): Contribution of the Pic-Nic Game situation in the evaluation of diverse forms of families. Symposium presented at the European Conference for Developmental Psychology, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Kuersten-Hogan, R., & McHale, J.P. (2013). L'observation du coparentage dans les familles biparentales: influence du contexte et de l'âge de l'enfant (Coparenting Observations in Two-Parent Families Across Contexts and Time). In N. Favez, F. Frascarolo, & H. Tissot (Eds.), Le bébé au sein de la triade: le développement de l'alliance familiale (The baby within the triad: the development of family alliance). Bruxelles, BEL: De Boeck.

Kuersten-Hogan, R., Faria, M., & DiGiammarino, R. (2013, April). Correlates of Coparenting Dynamics Across the Transition to Parenthood: The Roles of Infant Temperament and Attachment. In R. Kuersten-Hogan (Chair): Predicting Infant and Family Functioning at the end of the First Year: The Impact of Prenatal and Postnatal Family Dynamics. Poster symposium presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, Washington.

Kuersten-Hogan, R. & Jarquin, S. (2012, June). Stability of fathers’ prenatal coparenting across the transition to parenthood: The value of prenatal coparenting observations. In B. McDaniel & D. Teti (Chairs): Paternal coparenting across the transition to parenthood: Prenatal and postnatal influences. Symposium presented at the meeting of the International Society for Infant Studies, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kuersten-Hogan, R., Burgoyne, J., & Masterman, E. (2011, March). Predicting Coparenting Dynamics in the Early Postpartum Period: The Value of the Prenatal LTP. In R. Kuersten-Hogan (Chair): Catching glimpses of future family functioning: Different applications of the Lausanne Trilogue Play Situation. Symposium presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Canada.

Peter F. Toscano, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Coordinator of the Child and Family Intervention Concentration
Practicum and Internship Program Coordinator

"As a clinical/applied psychologist, I am interested in research that informs the treatment of psychological problems in real world settings.  Further, my commitment to children and families has highlighted work involving the development of child and adolescent psychopathology with an emphasis on the comorbidity of behavioral and emotional disturbance.  This has led to my collaboration with other researchers here at Assumption College as well as at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Connecticut Health Center.  I am also interested in issues pertaining to child maltreatment and adoption."

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Daniel F. Connor, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center
  • Leonard A. Doerfler, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Adam M. Volungis, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Assumption College

Sample publications:

Doerfler, L. A., Connor, D. F., & Toscano, P. F. (2011). Aggression, ADHD Symptoms, and Dysphoria in Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. Journal of Child and Family Studies20, 545-553.

Doerfler, L. A., Connor, D. F., & Toscano, P. F. (2011). The CBCL Bipolar Profile and Attention, Mood, and Behavior Dysregulation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 131, 312-319.

Doerfler, L. A., Toscano, P. F., & Connor, D. F. (2009). Sex and aggression: The relationship between gender and abuse experience in youngsters referred to residential treatment. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 18, 112-121.

Adam M. Volungis, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

"One of my primary research interests is prevention of school/youth violence, especially within the context of school climate, including student-teacher relationships.  This area of research has a positive psychology approach and is both qualitative and quantitative in nature.  In other words, instead of solely examining individual and systemic flaws after violence occurs (“what went wrong”), I also investigate what individuals and systems do when violence is prevented (“what went right”).  This area of research also recognizes the importance of identifying and responding to school bullying.

My other research interests include transportation of evidence-based practices and organizational management in non-profit mental health settings.  This area of research focuses on how to effectively implement treatment programs in “real world” clinic settings and corresponding effective leadership and management strategies.

I am also involved with Dr. Leonard Doerfler’s research examining psychological disorders and adaptive functioning in youths.  We are currently examining the relationship of co-occurring internalizing disorders (depression, anxiety) and externalizing disorders (ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder).

Finally, I also like to explore unique, or intriguing, topics that are sometimes inspired by my research assistants.  These topics are typically related to my primary research interests and allow for my research assistants to gain additional experience in developing and professionally presenting research.  Some recent examples include: helicopter parenting, media’s influence in school violence and suicide, and examining psychological treatments that cause harm.

Additional information about my research and academic interests can be found at www.dradamvolungis.com."

Select Recent Publications and Presentations

Volungis, A. M. (2014). School size & youth violence: The mediating role of school connectedness. Manuscript submitted for review.

Volungis, A. M., Liu, S., Whittle, D., Henriquez, S., & Schmidt, K. (2014, March). Hovering or grounded?: Exploring helicopter parenting as a valid construct.  Paper presented at the 85th annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

Volungis, A. M., McGrath, M. A., Truong, D. T., Liu, S., Schmidt, K., & Garry A. (2013, October). Not all treatments are equal: Re-conceptualizing treatments that cause harm. Paper presented at the 19th annual conference of the New England Psychological Association, Bridgeport, CT.

Volungis, A. M., Truong, D. T., & Whittle, D. S., & Liu, S. (2013, July). School administration’s role in preventing school violence:  Strategies for promoting school connectedness. Poster presented at the 121st annual conference of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HI.

Volungis, A. M., Truong, D. T., Angelone, J., Liu, S., & Whittle, D. S. (2013, March). School violence in the media: A proposed social-cultural learning model. Poster presented at the 84th annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.

Volungis, A. M., Doerfler, L. A., Toscano, P. F., & Connor, D. F. (2012, November). The absence of gender differences in co-occurring internalizing and externalizing disorders in youth. Poster presented at the 46th annual conference of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, National Harbor, MD.

Daniels, J. A., Vecchi, G., Volungis, A. M., & Kinnucan, L. (2012, September). Breaking the code of silence: Strategies for combating school shootings and bullying.  Paper and workshop presented at the 12th annual conference of the Association for Conflict Resolution, New Orleans, LA.

Volungis, A. M., & Howe, K. L.  (2012, March).  School violence prevention: Teachers establishing relationships with students using counseling strategies. Paper presented at the 83rd annual conference of the Eastern Psychological Association, Pittsburgh, PA.

Daniels, J. A., Volungis, A. M., Pshenishny, E., Ghandi, P., Winkler, A., Bradley, M. C., & Cramer, D. P. (2010). A qualitative investigation of averted school rampages. The Counseling Psychologist, 38, 69-95.
Volungis, A. M. (2008). Preventing school violence through establishing school connectedness. Prevention in Counseling Psychology: Theory, Research, Practice and Training, 2, 17-21.

Fang Zhang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology

"My research focuses on three areas:

Adult Attachment 

I am interested in the development of attachment styles across the life span as well as the relationship between attachment style and interpersonal behavior and cognition.  Attachment style are distinct patterns people have for viewing and being involved in close relationships.  I have collaborated with Dr. Gisela Labouvie-vief from Wayne State University (now in University of Geneva, Sweden), Dr. Itziar Alonso-Arbiol from University of the Basque Country in Spain, and Dr. TongGui Li from Beijing University in China in a number of investigations of individual differences in attachment style.

My collaborators for this research are:

  • Dr. Gisela Labouvie-vief -- Wayne State University (now at University of Geneva, Sweden)
  • Dr. Itziar Alonso-Arbiol -- University of the Basque Country in Spain
  • Dr. TongGui Li -- Beijing University in China

​Perception of Facial Expressions of Emotions  

Facial expressions reflecting happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, contempt, and disgust are commonly observed in everyday life and are considered primary emotional expressions.  Accurately perceiving facial expressions, especially subtle expressions of emotions, can be beneficial to individuals because it allows them to correctly interpret another person’s state of mind and respond accordingly.  My research investigates individual, contextual, and cultural differences in the perception of expressions.  I have collaborated with Dr. Maria Parmley and Dr. Sarah Cavanagh at Assumption and two Chinese colleagues, Dr. Ping Yao from Beijing University and Dr. XiaoAng Wan from Tsinghua University, on this research.

My collaborators for this research are:

  • Dr. Maria Parmley -- Assumption College
  • Dr. Sarah Cavanagh -- Assumption College
  • Dr. Ping Yao -- Beijing University
  • Dr. XiaoAng Wan -- Tsinghua University

Serenity and Buddhist Psychology 

The interplay between culture, religion (specifically, Buddhism), and emotion interests me a great deal. Cultures differ in what they consider to be ideal emotions.  Western cultures endorse high-arousal positive emotions, such as happiness, excitement, joy, and ecstasy, whereas Eastern cultures value low-arousal positive emotions, such as serenity, calmness, peace, and tranquility, best exemplified by the serene smile of the Buddha.  Serenity has been described as a transcendent emotional experience that expands consciousness and brings peace, acceptance, and gladness to the individual.  My colleague Maria Parmley and I are interested in exploring this transcendent nature of serenity and its relationship to physiological and neurological changes in the body as well as changes in cognition and emotion.  We also are collaborating with Dr. Keith Lahikainen at Assumption and Dr. Soysa Champika from Worcester State University on a project examining links between mindfulness and serenity.

My collaborators for this research are:

  • Dr. Maria Parmley -- Assumption College
  • Dr. Keith Lahikainen -- Assumption College
  • Dr. Soysa Champika -- Worcester State University"

Recent conference presentations:

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2013, July). Cultural differences in selective attention to facial expressions of emotions: A case for engagement and disengagement.  Poster presented at the 13th annual European Congress of Psychology Conference, Stockholm, Sweden.

Parmley, M., Zhang, F., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2013, May). Identifying American and Chinese Facial Expressions: Sex of the Face Can Make a Difference.  Poster presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science Conference in, Washington, D.C.

Parmley, M., Zhang, F., Colburn, K. L., Walker, A., Gjemnica, F., & Georges, N. N. (2013, May).  Exploring serenity: Identifying Distinguishing Characteristics.  Poster presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science Conference in, Washington, D.C.

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Wang, X. A., & Cavanagh, S. (2012, July). Recognition of Emotional Facial Expressions of Varying Intensities: Examining In-group Advantage in an American-Chinese Comparison. Paper presented at the 30th International Congress of Psychology, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Zhang, F. & Li, T. G. (2011, July).  Adult attachment style and experience of daily positive and negative events.  Poster presented at the plenary conference of the International Society for Research on Emotion, in Kyoto, Japan.

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2011, July).  Perception of emotional facial expressions of varying intensities: An American-Chinese Comparison.  Poster presented at the regional conference of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Recent publications and manuscripts:

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Wang, X. A., & Cavanagh, S. (under review). Are you sad: Cultural differences in recognition of subdued facial expressions of emotions?

Parmley M. & Zhang, F. (co-first authors; under revision). Emotion attention and decoding of facial expressions in interpersonal relationships.

Parmley, M., & Zhang, F. (under revision).  Your face says it all: Closeness and the perception of emotional expressions.

Zhang, F., & Parmley M. (2011).  What your best friend sees that I don’t see:  Comparing close friend dyads and casual acquaintance dyads on the perception of emotional facial expressions of varying intensities.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 28-39

Zhang, F. (2009).  The relationship between state attachment security and daily interpersonal experience.  Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 511–515. 

Maria Parmley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology

"My research program has focused on how we come to understand those around us and interpret their emotional cues.  We live in an increasingly diverse world, and understanding communication in this diverse world is important.  How we interpret others’ emotional cues is important because our interpretations impact how we behave toward them.  My collaborators include psychologists from Assumption College, Brandeis University, Tsinghua University, and Worcester State University."

Descriptions of Dr. Parmley's current research collaborations and programs:

Emotion Perception

Of the many factors that impact how we interpret others’ emotional cues, I have examined how contextual ambiguity and stereotypes impact this process in both adults and children and, more recently, how the closeness of interpersonal relationships, culture, and physiology impact how we read the emotional expressions of others.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Sarah Cavanagh, PhD, Department of Psychology, Assumption College
  • Joseph Cunningham, PhD, Department of Psychology, Brandeis University
  • XiaoAn Wan, PhD, Department of Psychology, Tsinghua University
  • Fang Zhang, PhD, Department of Psychology, Assumption College.

Serenity

Unlike research on other emotions, research on serenity is still in its infancy in the field of psychology.  My colleagues and I are interested in examining the underlining mechanisms involved in serenity to better define it.  In particular, we are interested in exploring how serenity is related to mindfulness and how the induction of serenity might impact how we process social information

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Keith Lahikainen, PsyD, Department of Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies, Assumption College
  • Champika Soya, PhD, Department of Psychology, Worcester State University
  • Fang Zhang, PhD, Department of Psychology, Assumption College.

Recent publications:

Parmley, M., & Cunningham, J. G. (in press).  She looks sad, but he looks mad: The effects of age, gender, and ambiguity on emotion perception.  The Journal of Social Psychology.

Zhang, F., & Parmley, M. (2011).  What your best friend sees that I don’t see:  Comparing female close friends and casual acquaintances on the perception of emotional facial expressions of varying intensities.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 28-39.

Recent presentations * Denotes Assumption College student co-authors ):

Parmley, M., Zhang, F., *Colburn, K. L., & *Georges, N. N. (2014, February).  Decoding facial expressions across the menstrual cycle: Support for the evolutionary perspective.  Poster presented at the 15th Annual Meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, TX.

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2013, July). Cultural differences in selective attention to facial expressions of emotions: A case for engagement and disengagement.  Poster presented at the 13th annual European Congress of Psychology Conference, Stockholm, Sweden.

Parmley, M., Zhang, F., *Colburn, K. L., *Walker, A., *Gjemnica, F., & *Georges, N. N. (2013, May).  Exploring serenity: Identifying distinguishing characteristics.  Poster presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science Conference, Washington, D.C.

Zhang, F., & Parmley, M., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2013, May). Cultural differences in selective attention to facial expressions of emotions.  Poster presented at the annual Association for Psychological Science Conference, Washington, D.C.

Parmley, M., Zhang, F., Cavanagh, S., & Wan, X. A. (2012, August).  Identifying American and Chinese facial expressions: Sex of the face can make a difference.  Poster presented at the American Psychological Association Convention, Orlando, FL.

Zhang, F., Parmley, M., Wan, X. A., & Cavanagh, S. (2012, July). Recognition of emotional facial expressions of varying intensities: Examining in-group advantage in an American-Chinese comparison. Paper presented at the 30th International Congress of Psychology, Cape Town, South Africa.

Sarah Cavanagh, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology

"My research program hinges on the idea that understanding patterns of emotional reactivity and regulation can illuminate trajectories of risk (for psychopathology) and resilience (indexed by positive life outcomes such as increased well-being). To explore these trajectories, I utilize behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging methods."

Dr. Cavanagh's current research collaborations and programs are:

Active Recruitment: 

Cognitive Predictors of Neural and Emotional Response to Mindfulness-Based Interventions (Co-Principal Investigator)

Together with Drs. Carl Fulwiler of University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, Philipp Opitz of University of Southern California, Jeffrey Birk of Columbia University, and Heather Urry of Tufts University, I am investigating whether attentional focusing, attentional shifting, and working memory performance can predict response to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR; indexed by changes in amygdala-orbitofrontal functional connectivity and self-reported changes in emotional functioning). Our broad, long-term objectives are to elucidate the psychological and neural mechanisms underlying response to mindfulness, to identify predictors of who might respond best to mindfulness intervention, and to optimize treatment response for individuals suffering from depression and anxiety disorders such as PTSD. This project was funded by the Assumption College/UMass Collaborative Pilot Research Program (CPRP)

In Preparation:

Psychophysiological and Neural Correlates of Risk and Resilience in Remitted Major Depression (Co-Investigator)

With Heather Urry, Philipp Opitz, and Jeffrey Birk, this was a longitudinal study of predictors of relapse and recovery in a sample of participants with and without remitted major depression. This study involves a psychophysiological and behavioral assessment of emotion regulation ability, an fMRI-based assessment of brain function during emotion regulation, and a longitudinal tracking of depressive symptoms over time. This study was funded by a NARSAD Young Investigator Award awarded to Dr. Urry.

The Experience of Nostalgia as a Mechanism of Emotion Regulation

Ryan Glode headed this project as his undergraduate honors thesis. We investigated the impact of nostalgic versus ordinary event reflections on an induced sad mood state, and found that nostalgic reflections led to greater lingering of sadness after the film clip, but also greater levels of happiness. We are presented the results of this study at the 2013 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, and are currently writing the manuscript for publication.

My collaborators for these studies are:

  • Heather L. Urry, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Tufts University
  • Philipp C. Opitz, Ph.D., Department of Gerontology, University of Southern California
  • Jeffrey L. Birk, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Columbia University
  • Carl Fulwiler, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Ryan Glode, B.A., M.A. Student in Counseling Psychology Program, Department of Psychology, Assumption College

Representative publications:

Cavanagh, S.R., Fitzgerald, E.J., & Urry, H.L. (in press). Emotion reactivity and regulation are associated with psychological functioning following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis in Japan. Emotion. (First two authors contributed equally).

Cavanagh, S.R., Shin, L.M., Karamouz, N., Rauch, S.R. (2006).  Psychiatric and emotional sequelae of surgical amputation. Psychosomatics, 47, 459-464.

Cavanagh, S.R., Shin, L.M., Rauch, S.R. (2006). Brain imaging in PTSD. Directions in Psychiatry, 26(3), 33-48.

Cavanagh, S.R., Urry, H.L., & Shin, L.S. (2011). Mood-induced shifts in attentional bias to emotional information predict ill- and well-being. Emotion, 11(2), 241-248.

Opitz, P.C., Cavanagh, S.R., & Urry, H.L. (submitted). The influence of context and choice on emotion regulation success. (First two authors contributed equally).