Psychology faculty are active scholars who publish in high quality, high impact, academic journals and books. In addition, all members of the department present their work at invited presentations, colloquia, and professional conferences. Our research is not possible, however, without our undergraduate research collaborators. We provide our students with several opportunities to engage with psychological research.

Examples of recent student-faculty collaborative research

  • Videogames and Earthquake Preparedness: Effects of Avatar Identification and Resource Richness.
  • Using Tangible Technology to Teach Children Coding Concepts.
  • Reactions to racial passing are moderated by colorblind ideology endorsement and passing type.
  • They’re a Sorry Bunch: Perceptions of outgroup entitativity shape the receipt of intergroup apology
  • Interior landscapes of mental disorder: Visual representations of the experience of madness.
  • Velocity and Viscosity: Metaphors of madness in Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted.
  • Relationship between social cognition and temperament style in preschool-aged children
  • Infant social referencing with mothers, fathers and older siblings.
  • Neurocognitive correlates of processing high and low calorie food images
  • Neurocognitive correlates of processing food-related stimuli in a Go/No Go paradigm.
  • Gender differences in factors associated with alcohol drinking: Delay, discounting, and perception of others’ drinking
  • Undergraduate research teams that build bridges, produce publishable research, and strengthen grant proposals
  • Emerging trends in health communication: The powerful role of subjectivism in moderating the effectiveness of persuasive health appeals
  • Elaboration and numerical anchoring: Implications of attitude theories for consumer judgement and decision making
  • Children’s Nature Language: Outdoor experiences and links to environmental moral concerns.
  • Empathy-related reasoning Is associated with children’s moral concerns for the welfare and rights of animals.

Research Opportunities for Psychology Students

1. Student-faculty collaborative research.
  1. On campus: Students may choose to work directly with faculty in their labs on cutting-edge research in psychology. Students should contact faculty directly to apply to work in their labs. Students can take PSY295 or PSY495 faculty-student collaborative research for 1-4 credits per term (with instructor permission). Students who participate in faculty-student collaborative research have had the opportunity to present the results of their work at professional conferences and some have even published their research in academic journals as coauthors with their faculty mentor.
  2. Summer Research Opportunities: Several Psychology faculty members (Drs. Leonard, Nilsen, Zhang and Watson) participate in the Rogers Science Research Program. This is an internship program on the Lewis & Clark campus where students are paid to work with faculty on their research for several weeks during the summer. Applications are typically due in early March.
  3. Off campus: The psychology department has also successfully placed students in other research labs including several at the Oregon Health and Science University Students may receive credit for these off-campus research experiences by taking the Internship Capstone course or conducting Independent Student Research (PSY299 or PSY499).
2. Independent student research.

In addition to faculty-student collaborative research, the department also provides opportunities for students to conduct their own research.

  1. Independent Study: Independent projects are supervised by a faculty sponsor who must approve the research. Research conducted with human subjects must be reviewed by the HSRC and research conducted with animal subjects must be reviewed by IACUC. The student and faculty sponsor work together throughout the research process. Students register for PSY299 or PSY499 for 1-4 credits. Independent study form

Current Psychology Research Programs

Dr. Brian Detwelier-Bedell
Brian’s principal area of research examines the influence of emotion on social judgment and decision-making, including work in health persuasion, attitude change, and numerical anchoring.

Dr. Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell
My program of research brings together investigations of human decision-making, health psychology, and clinical psychology. I co-lead the Behavioral Health and Social Psychology (BHS) research lab, where we work with teams of undergraduates on a range of projects. Specifically, I am interested in promoting physical and mental health behaviors (e.g., using sunscreen, spending quality time with significant others). Although the average person has many opportunities to adopt behaviors that increase physical health and mental well-being, it can be challenging to carry out these behaviors regularly. Students in the BHS Lab help tackle the problem of failing to do “what’s best” for one’s physical and mental health by determining: how to persuade people with mood disorders (such as depression) to adopt behaviors that will improve their mental health, how to enhance the likelihood that depressed individuals receive the social support they need, and how to promote the application of research-based findings in “real-world” clinical settings.

Dr. Jennifer LaBounty
I am primarily interested in social cognitive and emotional development in infancy and early childhood. I study infant precursors to preschool social cognition, the developmental trajectory of social and emotional understanding throughout early childhood, and the effects of social cognition on childhood outcomes (including positive social functioning and psychopathological outcomes such as internalizing and externalizing problems).

Dr. Diana Leonard
Primarily, I study the ways in which the emotions we feel as a consequence of our social identities alter three processes: intergroup apology, perceived group victimization, and reactions to group disadvantage. In a new line of work, I have begun exploring moral judgments of racial passing behavior. That is, when people “transgress” boundaries of racial categorization, how do we as perceivers judge and, in some cases, denigrate these social actors and their behaviors? Finally, as a self-proclaimed “geek”, I have enjoyed applying classic models of small group dynamics to the study of conflict and change in live action roleplaying (larp) groups.

Dr. Erik Nilsen
My research area is broadly defined as Human Computer Interaction. My current research explores the use of computer games for pro-social purposes in a variety of contexts. This emerging multi-disciplinary research area is called “Serious Games”. The research has four different foci.

(1) My students and I study young children (4 – 10 years old) playing games combining digital and tangible technology enhances their cognitive development. We have studied creative problem solving, shape recognition and coding skills to date.

(2) Another line of research looks at motivating healthy behaviors with serious games and quantified-self technology. We are developing an App to motivate people to walk more by combining Fitbits and Google Maps to encourage friendly competitions and teamwork.

(3) I am also engaged in a project using a serious games competition platform called EDURange to transform the teaching of cybersecurity. We are developing innovative, team-based scenarios to teach computer security analysis skills.

(4) my newest research project is a collaboration with 3 other LC professors and many student collaborators to develop a serious game to motivate young adults to prepare and respond effectively to earthquakes. We are using social cognitive theory to increase their self-efficacy, flexibility in seeking solutions and intention to act to prepare for and respond effectively to an earthquake.

Dr. Jolina Ruckert
My research area is broadly defined as Sustainability Psychology. My students and I examine sustainability cognition and action. We aim to address, from a developmental perspective: 1) What is the quality and prevalence of sustainability cognition (beliefs, values, attitudes, and moral concerns for the environment) across the lifespan?, 2) Do outdoor experiences support the development of sustainability cognition?, 3) Do variations in sustainability cognition emerge across cultures, and with the intersectionality of race, region, religion, class, and gender?, and 4) Does sustainability cognition lead to environmental action? With this work we seek to provide evidence-based information to support environmental education, nature-based therapy, environmental conflict resolution, city planning, and conservation initiatives.

Dr. Tom Schoeneman
Tom Schoeneman’s research investigates social perception: the ways in which people, individually and collectively, come to understand themselves and others. Most recently, he and his students in the Social Construction of Madness lab have been focusing on stereotypes of mental disorder through the analysis of images and metaphors.

Dr. Todd Watson
My primary research interests lie in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and psychophysiology. I use safe, noninvasive electrophysiological techniques (such as electroencephalography [EEG], event-related potentials [ERP], and the electrooculogram [EOG]) to study the intersection between brain function, cognition, and behavior. In particular, my undergraduate colleagues and I examine the neural correlates of cognitive control over distracting “appetitive” cues (e.g. pictures of foods/beverages) and their relationship with health-related behaviors in the real world.

Dr. Yueping Zhang
My research program includes neuroscience, human neuropsychology, and cross-cultural psychology. My recent research explores the relationship between bilingualism and executive functions. We examine group differences between monolinguals and bilinguals on the performance of executive function tasks and measure the correlation between the level of bilingualism and task performances. Another line of my current research focuses on Cultural Frame Switching (CFS) among Bilinguals. Some bilinguals report that they felt like a “changed person” when they use different languages. My research attempts to examine the factors and the psychological processes involved in CFS.

Resources for Research