Social / Personality / Health Psychology
What psychological and neural mechanisms mediate social behavior and our health?
Humans are fundamentally social beings. They are also individuals with unique histories, experiences and perceptions. Their social and cognitive behaviors, the nature of their relationships and their health are influenced not only by the social contexts in which they find themselves but also by the personality traits they bring to those situations. The social/personality psychologists in the department are interested in the areas of self-regulation and motivation, gender, emotions, health, relationships, stress and coping. Included in their work are studies on the nature of relationships, the functions of emotions within relationships, the impact of personality characteristics and social support on health, the impact of stress on disease, adjustment to chronic disease, and pathways linking mindfulness meditation with health outcomes. Within the area of health psychology, studies are being conducted on the role of psychological and social factors in heart disease, cancer, infectious diseases, and addiction. Within the area of relationship research, studies are being conducted on psychological processes occurring in newly forming relationships, friendships, romantic relationships and marriages, and couples coping with chronic illness.
Our program builds upon traditional research and training experiences in the social/personality psychology laboratory as well as on the faculty's current interests and opportunities in studying patient populations. Researchers in the department interact and collaborate with researchers at other educational and medical institutions. For example, many of the social/personality/health faculty actively collaborate with researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Our faculty also participate several different training programs: