Our lab investigates cognitive processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders and other forms of emotion dysregulation. We are especially interested in how thoughts that occur outside of our conscious control contribute to anxiety and avoidance, and how we can change thinking styles to improve emotional functioning. If we want to understand why an intelligent, normally rational person with a spider phobia has refused to go down to her basement for ten years, why a person with social phobia sees only the one scowling face in a room full of smiles, why a person with panic disorder is convinced that the 200th panic attack is the one that will bring on a heart attack, we need to consider the role of automatic processing of emotional information in these disorders. Each of these seemingly irrational decisions, beliefs, and behaviors is likely fueled by some aspect of automatic cognitive processing, whereby anxious individuals interpret their environment in such a way that these maladaptive reactions make sense to them in the moment. Our research investigates how these processes contribute to the onset and persistence of psychopathology and how we can change these processes to relieve symptoms.
Students will be trained to help with running studies. For instance, we conduct studies during which anxious individuals complete computer- or phone-based training programs to shift their anxious thinking style. As part of the studies, we have research assistants who help with lab sessions (e.g., administering questionnaires and computer tasks), and help with recruiting and scheduling participants, and calling and emailing them to help them stay engaged with the project and trouble shoot. Also, we will want help with preparing and testing study materials (e.g., assistance finding photos to accompany the training materials) and running through our programs on different devices and web browsers to check for problems. Help with literature searches (e.g., finding and summarizing articles tied to attention biases in anxiety disorders) and assisting with reference sections and other aspects of manuscript preparation may also be part of the work activities.
No specific courses are required.
Understand basics of scientific research design.
Understand how unhealthy thinking contributes to anxiety and difficulties regulating emotions.
Become more comfortable finding and reading research articles.