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Lab Research

Here's a quick overview of the kinds of stuff we do. 

(1) Health behavior. Why do some people act in healthy ways, but others do not? How can we best encourage people to make positive changes to their health behavior? Our lab aims to understand and improve health behavior through the application of social psychological theories of health behavior, persuasion, and motivation. Much of our work has centered on health message framing - that is, communicating the consequences of a health behavior in terms of either the benefits associated with changing it or the risks associated with not changing it.  Other work applies theories of the self and self-regulation to identify potential interventions for improving people's ability to effectively pursue health-related goals. We have examined a multitude of health behaviors, including oral health, physical activity, diet, and cancer screening.

(2)  How expectations, motivations, and self-concept influence reactions to everyday experiences.  Why do different people respond so differently to everyday uplifts and hassles? How do self-related processes such as expectations, motivations influence how people respond to everyday events and self-relevant feedback.  We utilize a number of methodologies to answer these questions, such as palm-pilot based experience sampling methods, experimentation, and surveys.

(3) The role of positive psychological states - such as stress-related growth and finding meaning - in coping with stress.  When people confront major stressful events, their responses range from the negative (e.g., depression, PTSD) to the positive, such as reporting posttraumatic growth, positive emotion, and increased meaning in life.  What predicts these positive responses and what effects do these seemingly ironic consequences of stress play in the adjustment process?  Dr. Updegraff has examined these questions in studies of people coping with HIV, violence, and exposure to terrorism.