My research primarily addresses the influence of individual differences in personality, cognition, and emotion on psychological health and physiological functions.
I am particularly interested in understanding how aspects of self-regulation including personality, behavior, and executive cognitive function affect well-being and health. For example, my students and I have worked on the questions of how personality factors (e.g., optimism) affect the way that people approach and pursue their goals, what the costs and benefits of goal pursuit are, and especially how acts of self-regulation affect cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, metabolic, and immune function.Two large, NIH-funded studies have examined these questions. One, with Leslie Crofford, MD, examines the health consequences of motivation and goal pursuit in older women in a longitudinal "burst" design. (DAHLiA Study link at left..) The other is a longitudinal study of the effects of self-regulation and especially self-regulatory capacity on immunological and brain health in older adults (Thought, Stress, and Immunity Study link at left).
My students and I are actively pursuing a line of research on cognitive self-regulation as it is manifested in repetitive thought (e.g., worry, rumination, cognitive processing, and related concepts). This research focuses on understanding the structure of repetitive thought, the best ways to measure repetitive thought, its neuropsychological correlates, and its psychological and physiological consequences.
I am a biostatistician with particular interest in longitudinal data analysis and multilevel modeling. I am also interested in the measurement properties of biomarkers such as diurnal cortisol. (Statstical Expertise and Consulting link at left.)