The Department of Psychological Science emphasizes the investigation of human behavior as it develops across the life span in diverse contexts. The faculty share a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research aimed at advancing our understanding of the determinants of human health, well-being, and functioning in a broad range of developmental, social, cultural, and environmental contexts. The faculty are also dedicated to research that has the potential to address important societal problems.
Interparental conflict and child HPA-axis responses to acute stress: Insights using intensive repeated measures.
Interparental conflict is a common source of psychosocial stress in the lives of children. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between recent interparental conflict and one component of the physiological stress response system, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis. Parents of 42 children (ages 8-13 years) completed daily diaries of interparental conflict for 8 weeks. At the end of the 8 weeks, youth participated in the Trier Social Stress Test for Children (TSST-C) while providing 2 pre- and 4 poststress salivary cortisol samples. Youth whose fathers reported a pattern of increasing interparental conflict over the past 8 weeks demonstrated an exaggerated HPA-axis response to acute stress. Mother-reported interparental conflict was not associated with children's HPA-axis responses without accounting for fathers' reports. When accounting for fathers' reports, the offspring of mothers reporting higher average daily interparental conflict demonstrated an attenuated HPA-axis response to the stressor. By estimating both average exposure and recent patterns of change in exposure to conflict, we address the circumstances that may prompt attenuation versus sensitization of the HPA-axis in the context of interparental conflict. We conclude that the HPA-axis is sensitive to proximal increases in interparental conflict which may be one pathway through which stress affects health across development, and that incorporating father's reports is important to understanding the role of the family environment in stress responses. This study further demonstrates the value of using intensive repeated measures and multiple reporters to characterize children's psychosocial environment. (PsycINFO Database Record
Feasibility and acceptability of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or acupuncture for insomnia and related distress among cancer caregivers.
ObjectiveInsomnia is a common, distressing, and impairing psychological outcome experienced by informal caregivers (ICs) of patients with cancer. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and acupuncture both have known benefits for patients with cancer, but such benefits have yet to be evaluated among ICs. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effects of CBT-I and acupuncture among ICs with moderate or greater levels of insomnia.
MethodParticipants were randomized to eight sessions of CBT-I or ten sessions of acupuncture.
ResultsResults highlighted challenges of identifying interested and eligible ICs and the impact of perception of intervention on retention and likely ultimately outcome.
Significance of the resultsFindings suggest preliminary support for non-pharmacological interventions to treat insomnia in ICs and emphasize the importance of matching treatment modality to the preferences and needs of ICs.
Psychological maladjustment and academic achievement: a cross-cultural study of Japanese, Chinese, and American high school students.
Psychological maladjustment and its relation to academic achievement, parental expectations, and parental satisfaction were studied in a cross-national sample of 1,386 American, 1,633 Chinese, and 1,247 Japanese eleventh-grade students. 5 indices of maladjustment included measures of stress, depressed mood, academic anxiety, aggression, and somatic complaints. Asian students reported higher levels of parental expectation and lower levels of parental satisfaction concerning academic achievement than their American peers. Nevertheless, Japanese students reported less stress, depressed mood, aggression, academic anxiety, and fewer somatic complaints than did American students. Chinese students reported less stress, academic anxiety, and aggressive feelings than their American counterparts, but did report higher frequencies of depressed mood and somatic complaints. High academic achievement as assessed by a test of mathematics was generally not associated with psychological maladjustment. The only exception was in the United States, where high achievers indicated more frequent feelings of stress than did low achievers.
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