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Health and Well-being

Social psychological processes are among the most powerful contributors to both mental (e.g., life satisfaction) and physical (e.g., cardiovascular disease) health outcomes. The faculty at the University of Utah are engaged in cutting-edge research addressing the bidirectional associations between social processes and health. This work includes both clinical and community samples utilizing diverse methodological and statistical approaches including dyadic models (e.g., actor-partner), and mental (e.g., well-being), and physical (e.g., inflammation) health outcomes. Researchers in this concentration are interested in the following questions:

Social Area Pub Event

  • How do self-regulatory processes influence one’s reaction to health communications (e.g., risk/genetic testing)?
  • What are the statistical approaches to modeling change in chronic disease management?
  • How do individuals maintain interest and motivation when they need to learn on their own, exercise regularly, or work on long term projects?
  • What are the psychological and biological mechanisms linking social relationships to health?
  • How does subjective well-being influence health and what are the policy implications of such research?

People

Social Area Faculty

Lisa Aspinwall

Jonathan Butner

Ed Diener

Samantha Joel

Carol Sansone

Bert Uchino

Affiliated Faculty (Outside of the Social Area)

Brian Baucom

Cynthia Berg

Kimberly Bowen

Craig Bryan

Elisabeth Conradt

Sheila Crowell

Lisa Diamond

Bruce Ellis

Ansuk Jeong

Patricia Kerig

Lee Raby

Tim Smith

Paula Williams

Papers Related to Research Questions

  • How do self-regulatory processes influence one’s reaction to health communications (e.g., risk/genetic testing)?

Aspinwall, L. G., Stump, T. K., Taber, J. M., Kohlmann, W., Leaf, S. L., & Leachman, S. A. (2015). Impact of melanoma genetic test reporting on perceived control over melanoma prevention. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38, 754-765.

Taber, J. M., Aspinwall, L. G., Stump, T. K., Kohlmann, W., Champine, M., & Leachman, S. A. (2015). Genetic testing enhances understanding of risk information and acceptance of prevention recommendations compared to family history-based counseling alone. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38, 740-753.

  • What are the statistical approaches to modeling change in chronic disease management?

Butner, J., Gagnon, K. T., Geuss, M. N., Lessard, D. A., & Story, T. N. (2014). Using topology to generate and test theories of change. Psychological Methods.

Butner, J. E., Berg, C. A., Baucom, B. R., & Wiebe, D. J. (2014). Modeling coordination in multiple simultaneous latent change scores. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 49(6), 554-570.

  • How do individuals maintain interest and motivation when they need to learn on their own, exercise regularly, or work on long term projects?

Huynh, S., Stefanucci, J. K., & Aspinwall, L. G. (2014). Self-affirmation counters the effects of self-regulatory resource depletion on height perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 52, 96-100.

Sansone, C., Smith, J.L., Thoman, D., & MacNamara, A. (2012). Regulating goals-defined and experience-defined motivation when learning online: Motivation and performance tradeoffs.  The Internet and Higher Education, 15 (3), 141-149.

Thoman, D.B., & Sansone, C., & Geerling, D. (in press). The dynamic nature of interest: Embedding interest within self-regulation. In P. O’Keefe & J.M. Harackiewicz (Eds.). The Psychological Science of Interest: Exploring Its Functions, Forms, and Formation. Springer. In press, 08/01/2016.

  • What are the psychological and biological mechanisms linking social relationships to health?

Joel, S., MacDonald, G., & Shimotomai, A. (2011). Conflicting pressures on relationship commitment for anxiously attached individuals. Journal of Personality, 59, 51-74.

Kent, R. G., Uchino, B. N., Cribbet, M. R., Bowen, K., and Smith, T. W. (2015). Social relationships and sleep quality.Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49, 912-917.  DOI 10.1007/s12160-015-9711-6

Uchino, B.N. & Way, B.M. (in press).  Integrative pathways linking close family ties to health: A neurochemical perspective.  American Psychologist.  *Co first authors

  • How does subjective well-being influence health and what are the policy implications of such research?

Diener, E., & Chan, M. Y. (2011) Happy people live longer: Subjective well-being contributes to health and longevity. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. 3(1), 1-43.

Diener, E., Diener, C., Choi, H., & Oishi, S.  (2017). Most people are happy revisited – And discovering when they are not.  Perspectives on Psychological Science, 30th Year Anniversary Issue, Association for Psychological Science.

Diener, E., Oishi, S., & Lucas, R. E. (2015). National accounts of subjective well-being. American Psychologist, 70, 234-242.

Relevant Course Offerings

Graduate Courses

Advanced statistical/methods courses to support specialization:

Undergraduate Courses

  • PSY 3330 – Stress Management
  • PSY 3430 – The Science of Subjective Well Being and Positive Psychology
  • PSY 3460 – Health Psychology
  • PSY 4460 – Social Psychology of Health and Illness

Additional Resources/Facilities

Departmental

  • Behavioral Medicine Research Group
  • Close relationships Research Group
  • Developmental Research Group
  • Cardiovascular Psychophysiology Assessments
  • Neuroendocrine Assessments

College/University

Last Updated: 5/17/17