Faculty research activities
All SPFC faculty members engage in research, present scholarly papers at national and international conferences, and author scientific publications (articles, chapters, or books). Manuscripts often include undergraduate and graduate students as co-authors.
Faculty research interests vary widely and include topics such as psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness, psychology of volunteerism and service-learning, women’s health, stress, and mindfulness, parenting effects on children’s emotional control, theology, stigma, and mental health, drama therapy in family counseling, ethnic identity and ethnic conflict, depression in adolescent girls, development of children on the autism spectrum, spirituality in collaborative health care, substance abuse in high-risk adolescents, trauma psychology, effective mentoring in organizations, leadership development, and more. We invite you to explore our SPFC faculty profile pages to learn more about their research interests and achievements.
Behavioral and clinical laboratory programs
Dr. Amy Mezulis and her graduate research team are particularly interested in parent-child relationships and parental emotion socialization during childhood and adolescence. Previous projects have focused on aggression; however, more recent projects examine the influence of parent-child relationships on symptoms of depression and anxiety.
The Baker Lab
Dr. Phillip M. Baker leads this collaborative and motivated group of researchers interested in understanding how the brain reduces complex information into behavioral choices. To do this, we manipulate the circuitry of the brain in animal models to understand the contributions of brain areas to reducing external stimuli into internal representations of choices that ultimately guide decision-making. Much of our work is hands on with our animals models in addition to wet lab work which requires a consistent commitment to the lab for a minimum of two quarters.
Directed by Dr. Jenny Vaydich, the Child and Adolescent Laboratory within the School of Psychology, Family, and Community at Seattle Pacific University explores the influence of parent-child relationships and interactions on child and adolescent emotion regulation development. We are particularly interested in parent-child relationships and parental emotion socialization during childhood and adolescence. Previous projects have focused on aggression; however, more recent projects have examined the influence of parent-child relationships on symptoms of depression and anxiety. In particular, current projects explore:
• The influence of parent-adolescent conflict on adolescent mental and physical health
• The relationship between parental criticism and adolescent depressive symptoms
• Parental attachment relationships and disordered eating during late adolescence
• The impact of early parenting experiences on adolescent emotional functioning
Culture and Social Development Lab
Social development refers to the way children and youth become adult members of families, communities, and cultures. In the Culture & Social Development Lab, Dr. Oscar Baldelomar leads a research team in studying how various aspects of social development (identity, acculturation, social cognition and inter-group relationships) occur in diverse populations and across different cultural settings. To understand the role of culture in social development, research assistants participate in the design, execution and communication of various research projects conducted in the U.S. and Costa Rica. The following are our current projects:
- The SPU Experience Project: Examines longitudinally the intersection of cognitive development and spiritual formation in SPU students, with special attention to minorities.
- A Cultural Model of COVID-19 Preventive Behaviors in an international sample of emerging adults.
- Effects of Social Change on the Social Development of indigenous Bribri and Cabecar Youth in Costa Rica: This is a summer project that studies how family relationships, identity formation, and mental health are impacted by the technological change experienced by indigenous youth in Bribri and Cabecar communities in the Caribbean section of Costa Rica (Latino and bilingual research assistants needed).
Clinical Research in Self Injury and Suicide (CRISIS) Lab
Dr. Keyne Law is an assistant professor of psychology. As the principle investigator of the Clinical Research in Self Injury and Suicide (CRISIS) lab at SPU, she is interested in understanding the dynamic changes and interplay between ecological, emotional, behavioral, and biological systems that lead to the development of suicidal thoughts and progression into lethal suicidal behavior. Dr. Law’s existing body of research integrates a diverse range of measurements such as self-report questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, pain tolerance tasks, behavioral tasks, and psychophysiology.
Research assistants will be able to gain experience with running research participants through laboratory procedures, working with psychophysiology data, and participating in the preparation and presentation of suicide research. Research assistants should expect to commit 8 hours to laboratory work including attendance at weekly lab meetings. Given the amount of training needed to fully participate in the research being conducted in Dr. Law’s lab, a commitment of 3 quarters is required.
The Kim Lab
Dr. Paul Youngbin Kim is interested in psychological processes impacting Asian and Asian American communities. Specifically, Dr. Kim examines the cultural, psychological, and structural influences on the help-seeking attitudes of Asians and Asian Americans, with the goal of making mental health service more accessible to those communities. Dr. Kim has written about contemporary forms of racism (e.g., racial microaggressions) and their link to well-being. He is also committed to highlighting the psychological experiences of sojourning individuals, such as international students or third culture kids (TCKs).
Dr. Baine Craft is an Experimental Psychologist with expertise in Animal Behavior, Learning, and Cognition. In the Learning and Cognition Lab, students work with Dr. Craft to study questions related to choice and decision making. For example, the lab has recently studied how changes in reward quality (sweet, calorically dense foods) impact risky behavior. As a research assistant in the lab, students will perform literature reviews, discuss models of choice and decision making, collect data, analyze data, and may have the opportunity present data at regional and national conference. Undergraduate research assistants are required to take a minimum of 3 credits per quarter of 2361 or 4970, to attend weekly lab meetings, and to commit to a minimum of 2 quarters participation on the research team.
Moral Emotion and Implicit Bias Lab
The Moral Emotion and Implicit Bias Lab, led by Dr. Tom Carpenter, examines the psychology of moral emotions (guilt, shame, self-forgiveness) and implicit bias (e.g., racial bias). Dr. Carpenter’s lab operates from the perspective that all people mess up, occasionally hurt others or act immorally, and harbor inner biases that we have learned from society. We are currently focusing on related questions, such as:
• How do people feel about their wrongs? Specifically, how do guilt and shame feelings
work, how are they different, and how do they vary across cultures?
• Why do people sometimes follow their beliefs and values and sometimes not? How is that affected by emotion?
• What biases do people internalize from society (e.g., around social categories such as race)? How can we best study these biases?
Research assistants are required to register for 3 credits of 2361 or 4970 each quarter, attend weekly lab meetings, and commit to at least 3 quarters on the research team, although some accommodations may be made.
Directed by Dr. Brittany Tausen, the Social Cognition Lab is dedicated to investigating how people think about themselves and other people as well as the downstream consequences of these mental processes. Currently, Dr. Tausen and her students are investigating the causes and consequences of dehumanization – the tendency to deny other people complex emotions and mental processes. Ongoing projects in the lab cover topics such as: 1) What negative behaviors are reliably associated with perceiving others as less human than oneself? 2) How can intergroup contact be leveraged to reduce the dehumanization of marginalized group members (e.g., individuals who are homeless)?
Research assistants in the Social Cognition Lab will collect and analyze data, perform literature reviews, and participate in the preparation and presentation of research. Students who wish to participate in the Social Cognition Lab are required to register for 3 credits of 2361 or 4970 each quarter, to attend weekly lab meetings, and to commit to at least 3 quarters of participation on the research team.
Dr. Bev Wilson from the Department of Clinical Psychology is looking for 1-2 undergraduate students who want to learn about children with autism spectrum disorder and their self-regulation skills. Students in the STAR Lab will assist with parent interviews that deal with topics such as parenting, emotion, and family interactions. Students will also operate videotaping equipment as well as code parent-child interactions and child regulation skills during a set of challenging tasks. Students work 10 hours per week. Ideally, students are available for several hours during the week as well as a few hours over the weekend so that they can assist with visits to children’s homes and laboratory sessions. In addition, students will learn about research methods such as data entry with SPSS and an overview of statistical analyses. Bi-weekly meetings are held for training students in our clinical interviews and research methods as well discussing other research in child development and autism. Meetings also are used to assist students who wish to apply to graduate school programs.
The Webb Lab
Dr. Marcia Webb’s research interests over the years have focused upon the potential interplay between Christian religiosity and psychopathology. She has examined associations between trauma and religiosity, as well as the variables of psychological maltreatment, guilt, and shame in relation both to religiosity and to forgiveness. More recently, she conducted empirical research focused on stigma about mental illness in the church.
Dr. Webb is the author of the book, Toward a Theology of Psychological Disorder. In this text, she describes research focused on current church attitudes toward mental illness, and biblical approaches that might serve to correct religious stigma. Her present scholarship is devoted to the theoretical integration of psychology and Christian faith, particularly with regard to mental disorder. Students working with Dr. Webb will be expected to have an interest and aptitude for study focused on this integration.