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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology

Research Labs

Principal InvestigatorLabSummary

Adolescent Health & Wellness Lab

Jessica Fales
The Adolescent Health & Wellness Lab conducts high quality research in the areas of pediatric pain, social development, and positive psychology. Our current research efforts are primarily focused on the identification of social risk and protective factors associated with the chronic pain experience in adolescence. The ultimate goal of our research is to prevent the development of chronic pain problems in otherwise healthy youth and to help develop more effective treatments for adolescents with pain and their families.

Adult Psychopathology Lab

David Marcus
Much of our research on psychopathy has used Meehl’s taxometric method to examine whether psychopathy and related disorders (e.g., antisocial personality disorder, conduct disorder) exist along a continuum or are discrete, qualitatively distinct conditions. In other words, this research is interested in the question of whether there are “psychopaths” who are uniquely different from others or whether psychopathy is a dimensional construct. The lab is currently examining the behavioral correlates of psychopathic personality traits, such as the association between psychopathy and risky sexual behavior. Additionally, our research on health anxiety has focused on how dysfunctional beliefs and a ruminative cognitive style contribute to health anxiety and hypochondriasis.

Affective and Cognitive Influences of Decisions (ACID) Lab

John Hinson and Paul Whitney
The primary objective of our research is to better understand how cold cognition (rational or deliberative processes) and hot cognition (affective or emotional processes) contribute to decision making. People often make decisions under suboptimal conditions, including conditions of distraction, information overload, or cognitive fatigue, leading to less than ideal decision outcomes. In laboratory studies we use cognitive or affective challenges, such as memory loads and divided attention tasks, to examine how these challenges constrain good decision making. These experimental manipulations are intended to capture important elements of real world challenges to decision making and allow us to better explain problems in decision making underlying difficulties in self-regulation.

Attention, Perception & Performance Lab

Lisa R. Fournier
Our laboratory is currently investigating how selective attention operates and how attention modulates visual perception and motor performance as well as how prioritization of actions and demands on working memory affect perception and our ability to quickly and accurately execute motor actions.

Attention-deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Research

G. Leonard Burns
I am currently using latent variable modeling procedures (e.g., confirmatory factor analysis, structural regression analysis, latent growth analysis, item response theory) to study ADHD, Sluggish Cognitive Tempo, and ODD within and across countries. Current projects focuses on the usefulness of the sluggish cognitive tempo symptoms to improve understanding of ADHD (e.g., longitudinal research with Spanish colleagues on the development of SCT and ADHD-IN symptom dimensions in Spanish children). Students who work with me have the opportunity to examine ethnic and cultural differences in child behavior problems as well as learn advanced measurement and analytic procedures.

Behavioral Neuroscience Lab

The Behavioral Neuroscience Lab works to better understand the neurobiology of substance use and mental illness. We use translational approaches to identify neural circuits associated with addiction-related behavior and development, often in the context of co-occurring mental illness. Our ultimate goal is to enhance translation of preclinical findings to clinical populations, and contribute to the development of personalized, effective therapies for substance use disorder and mental illness in women and men.

Behavioral Pharmacology Lab

Raymond M. Quock
Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO₂) therapy has been approved by the FDA for a limited set of clinical indications, although there are clinical reports that HBO₂ therapy appears to be effective in a broader range of conditions, including several examples of chronic pain. We have demonstrated that HBO₂ therapy causes relief of acute pain and gathered convincing evidence that HBO₂ therapy activates central pathways that can produce long-lasting relief of neuropathic pain. Nitrous oxide (N₂O, laughing gas) is a gas that is notable for its anesthetic, analgesic, anxiolytic and euphoric properties. We identified and localized in the rat brain the opioid receptor subtypes that mediate nitrous oxide analgesia, provided the first chemical evidence for N₂O-induced neuronal release of endogenous opioid peptides in rats and have implicated a regulatory role for NO in the neuronal release of endogenous opioid peptides. We have also reported that N₂O produces significant relief of anxiety in different animal models of experimental anxiety. This anxiolytic effect is independent of the analgesic effect of N₂O and appears to be mediated by benzodiazepine sites on the GABA receptor and also involve NO.

Building Opportunities for Learning & Development

Elizabeth Canning
In the BOLD (Building Opportunities for Learning & Development) lab, we use experimental methods to understand the subtle interpersonal and organizational messages that perpetuate bias and inequality. We specifically focus on subtle messages about belonging, value, talent, and ability that are communicated by institutions, employers, instructors, parents, and peers. We use social-psychological theory to design and implement field-based interventions that address important social inequalities, such as racial and social-class achievement gaps.

Child Externalizing Behaviors Lab

Tammy Barry
The Child Externalizing Behaviors Lab conducts research on biologically-based and contextual correlates of child externalizing behaviors, including ADHD, aggression, and disruptive behaviors associated with autism. Factors examined in our research include neuropsychological functioning/endophenotypes, child temperament, parental psychopathology/stress, parenting practices, SES/neighborhood characteristics, and individual difference factors (e.g., narcissism and psychopathy), among other variables. Our research also focuses on the measurement and latent structure of externalizing behavior disorders, such as ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder.

Chronic Illness Lab

Karen Schmaling
My research areas include clinical research, specifically intervention and descriptive research focused on depressive disorders and other chronic conditions; health disparities; peer review; diversity in higher education.

Coalition for Healthy and Equitable Workplaces

Tahira M. Probst
While I am fascinated by many different areas of industrial/organizational psychology, my research over the past 15 years has largely focused on issues related to employee health, well-being and safety. In particular, I am interested in the topics of economic stress and job insecurity; accident under-reporting; and organizational safety climate and safety leadership behaviors. In addition, many of my research studies attempt to delineate the extent to which our findings generalize to other cultural contexts and to identify sociocultural variables that may explain any observed differences.

Emotion and Social Development Lab

Paul Strand
Our research is concerned with the emotional and social skills development of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. We are currently investigating what information is useful to counselors and educators who seek to improve outcomes for children at-risk for school failure and for juvenile justice system involvement. Also of interest to us, particularly in our work with preschoolers, is how emotion knowledge and social values develop and impact school adjustment.

Health and Cognition Lab

Carrie Cuttler
Research in my Health and Cognition Laboratory at WSU focuses on elucidating the potentially beneficial and detrimental effects of chronic cannabis use and acute cannabis intoxication. Our current and recent work focuses on examining links between cannabis use and mental health (e.g., depression, anxiety, OCD), physical health (e.g., pain, sleep), stress, and cognition (e.g., memory, decision-making, executive functioning, creativity, attention). Further, we are interested in examining effects of cannabis with different concentrations of THC and CBD as well as effects of cannabis concentrates to better understand their influence on mental health, physical health, and cognition.

Health and Social Psychology Research Lab

Renee Magnan
The members of WHSPR Lab are interested in studying preventive health behavior from a social psychological perspective. Current research areas include: cognitive versus affective predictors of health behaviors (physical activity, tobacco use, cannabis use…), investigating the links between physical activity and alcohol use, techniques for communicating risk information (e.g., cigarette graphic warnings), positive and negative reactions to health communications, and perceptions and knowledge surrounding e-cigs.

Infant Temperament Lab

Masha A. Gartstein
The WSU Temperament Laboratory has been functioning since 2002, conducting projects that are focused on the evaluation of temperament development in early childhood. Specifically, growth in temperament characteristics across infancy, relationships with parent-child interactions factors, and attachment, are currently being examined. Cross-cultural differences in the development of temperament are also being investigated, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Murcia in Spain and the State Research Institute of Physiology, in Novosibirsk, Russia. Longitudinal evaluations, following children into the preschool period are currently being planned. For example, infant temperament predictors of early behavior problems and psychopathology will be examined.

Neural Mechanisms of Pain Modulation

Michael Morgan
The analgesic effects of morphine and other opioids decrease with repeated administration. Our lab has shown that a brain structure known as the periaqueductal gray plays an important role in morphine analgesia and tolerance. Our current objective is to understand the neural mechanism within the periaqueductal gray that causes this change in morphine potency. These studies use in vitro electrophysiology and behavioral pharmacology to link molecular changes in cell signaling to behavior.

Neuropsychology and Aging Research Lab

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe
Aging and Dementia Neuropsychology:
The goal of this research program is to develop cognitive interventions that will help older individuals with progressive dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) delay functional disability and increase their quality-of-life. Participants in many of our studies are healthy older adults and early-stage dementia patients who complete standardized neuropsychological tests and cognitive experimental tasks that assess different cognitive skills (e.g., memory, problem-solving). We are currently investigating the relationship between memory deficits and everyday functional disabilities, and experimenting with a memory notebook and smart environment technologies to help persons with dementia compensate in their daily lives for declining memory.

Traumatic Brain Injury Neuropsychology Research Lab:
Difficulties with memory, attention and complex problem-solving are common cognitive problems that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic brain injury (TBI). By bridging basic science research with rehabilitation techniques, our work is designed to help persons with TBI overcome cognitive difficulties. Participants in our studies complete standardized neuropsychological tests and cognitive experimental tasks that assess many different types of cognitive abilities. In conjunction with St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, we are currently investigating the recovery process of several important cognitive abilities (e.g., time perception, prospective memory, focused and divided attention, and metamemorial abilities) following a TBI.

Pedagogical Research Lab

Donelle “Dee” C. Posey
In my research, I focus on the effectiveness of instructional strategies and related student factors. My current interests include evaluating instructional strategies in Elementary Statistics in Psychology (Psych 311) as well as statistics anxiety. In my research and practice, I have two goals: 1) ease the anxiety that many students have coming into a statistics course, and 2) convey statistical concepts in a way that are relevant and interesting, and enduring.

Personality and Affect Lab

Sarah L. Tragesser
In the Personality and Affect Lab, we focus on the personality and affective processes that contribute to a variety of behaviors including interpersonal behaviors and relationships, substance use and abuse, and cognitive processing of emotional stimuli. Our research methods include the use of questionnaires, neurocognitive (EEG, ERP) measures, and palm pilots, among others.

Personality, Psychopathology, and Assessment Lab

Walt Scott
Broadly, I am in interested in basic personality structures and processes (e.g., temperament, self-beliefs/schemata, goals, etc.), how to measure them, and how to understand their contributions to personality functioning and to clinical depression.

Political Interaction Lab

Francis Benjamin
and G. Leonard Burns
The Political Interaction Lab focuses on the political engagement of individuals. Of particular interest is the motivation and interaction of individuals and their effect on the political process.

Promoting And Treating Health Research Lab

Benjamin Ladd
My various research interests focus on improving prevention and early intervention techniques for promoting and motivating health behavior change. Specifically, I am interested in process research with the goal of better understanding and identifying effective elements of therapeutic interventions, particularly Motivational Interviewing, in order to reduce the impact of substance abuse and problems. Additionally, I am interested in the role of social networks on the development and resolution of alcohol and drug problems.

Psychopharmacology Lab

Rebecca M. Craft
Psychoactive drugs are widely used, both therapeutically and recreationally, throughout the world. Much of the basic pharmacology of these drugs has been elucidated over the past few decades; however, until recently nearly all drug research – indeed, nearly all biomedical research – was conducted only in male subjects (e.g., male mice, male rats, male monkeys, male humans). Increasing evidence indicates that “reproductive hormones” such as estrogens have multiple effects on nervous system function that are not directly tied to reproductive processes. Thus, “male” and “female” biology per se can predispose an organism to experience drugs differently. Using animal models, the broad research goals of the Craft laboratory are to determine how gonadal steroid hormones such as testosterone and estradiol modulate pain, mood, and the therapeutic and side-effects of psychoactive drugs such as opioids and cannabinoids. The clinical applications of this work are (1) the development of sex-specific guidelines for use of psychotherapeutic and analgesic medications; and (2) improved prevention and treatment of gonadal steroid hormone-mediated pain and depression.

Youth Personality Behavior Lab

Chris Barry
Our research team, conducts studies dealing broadly with risk and protective factors related to child and adolescent behavioral problems. More specifically, we have focused on self-perception (e.g., narcissism, self-esteem) and callous-unemotional traits as they relate to various aspects of youth adjustment, particularly aggression and delinquency. Additional projects involve evidence-based assessment of child/adolescent conduct problems and the role of self-perception on social media behavior. The latter has included how individuals perceive narcissistic status updates from others and the association between narcissism and self-photography (i.e., “selfie”) posts on social media.