Research

"We're interested in studying the unique mental and physical health effects of positive emotion, with a particular focus in the context of life stress and serious illness."


Traditionally stress and coping research has focused on the (very natural and often adaptive) negative emotions that occur in the context of stress: anxiety, sadness, and depressive mood. However, our work shows that even in the context of life stress such as serious illness or death of a loved one, positive emotions can and do occur, and have unique coping correlates and adaptive consequences For example, among people with HIV/AIDS or diabetes, positive emotion is associated with lower risk of mortality, controlling for negative emotion, and other predictors of mortality.

Positive Affect & Coping

Building on studies demonstrating that positive emotion occurs in the context of serious health-related stress and has unique, longer-term consequences for psychological and physical well-being, our lab’s current work expands beyond observational studies to develop and test a positive emotion skills intervention with the aim of increasing the frequency of daily experience of positive emotion and, ultimately, improving psychological and physical well-being. The hypothesized model that underlies all of these studies is that these positive emotion skills help to build coping resources, improve health behaviors, and, perhaps, directly impact physiological mediators, leading to better physical and psychological well-being, regardless of the type of stress the individual is experiencing.

Mobile / Online Interventions

Part of our research involves adapting existing interventions for broad dissemination across web-based platforms. Through close collaboration with the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies (CBITS) at Northwestern University, we're interested in exploring novel ways to extend the reach of our research.

Empathy

Much of our work involves developing resources for individuals to cope with stressful life situations, and the emerging field of self-compassion and empathy provides new perspectives that complement our existing lines of research. Particularly, we're keen to explore the application of such interventions for at-risk populations within the healthcare field.

 

Selected Research Studies:

DAHLIA | A randomized controlled trial of a positive affect skills intervention for people with type 2 diabetes

DAISY | A study exploring the adaptive functions of positive affect following a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

IRISS | A RCT of a positive affect skills intervention for people newly diagnosed with HIV.

LAUREL | A study of a positive affect skills intervention for people with bipolar 1 disorder.

LILAC | A RCT of a positive affect skills intervention for women with stage IV breast cancer.

ORCHID | A RCT of a positive affect skills intervention for HIV-positive people with depressive symptoms.

 

Other Collaborations

Happify.com | click here for more information

Moodstone | click here for more information