Below are several selected publications by recent graduates of the program.

Fanyi Zeng
Class of 2022

Zeng, F., Brunsting, N., Brocato, N., Kiang, L., Jayawickreme, E., Kathuria, S. (2021). Biopsychosocial Factors Associated with Depression among U.S. Undergraduate International Students. Journal of International Students. 12.

DOI: 10.32674/jis.v12i1.2914.

Using a biopsychosocial framework, our study examines the biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors associated with depression among a crosssectional sample of undergraduate international students (N = 712) attending 28 U.S. colleges and universities. Consistent with hypotheses, regression analysis reveals that self-esteem, life satisfaction, and coping self-efficacy are negatively associated with depressive symptoms, and that ethnic minority status, perceived discrimination, and financial concerns are positively associated with depressive symptoms. Contrary to predictions, age, optimism, friendships, and school belonging are not significant predictors, and perseverance predicted increases depression in this sample. The novel findings highlight adaptation issues among international undergraduate students and suggest preventive measures and interventions against depression for university administrators and counselors.

Stephanie Bossert
Class of 2021

Bossert S. A., Tsukayama E., Blackie L. E. R., Cole V. T., Jayawickreme E. Do We Know Whether We’re Happier? Corroborating Perceived Retrospective Assessments of Improvements in Well-Being. Journal of Personality Assessment. 2022 Feb 18:1-9.

DOI: 10.1080/00223891.2022.2039167

To what extent do our beliefs about how our well-being has improved over time correspond to observed changes? Participants (N = 1,247 from Qualtrics Panels) completed questionnaires measuring dispositional well-being and ill-being (depressive symptoms) at three time points over the course of one year, as well as 44 weekly assessments of state well-being and ill-being over 52 weeks. They additionally completed measures of perceived improvements in well-being and ill-being at Weeks 45 and 52 as well as a measure of broad personality traits. We estimated latent change scores and latent growth curves, which allowed us to obtain more accurate estimates of the convergence between retrospective improvements and veridical change compared to past methods utilized. Stability in both global and state well-being and ill-being were observed. People who agreed more strongly that their well-being had improved (or their ill-being had increased) tended to show greater increases in actual well-being (or ill-being) across the past year. Additionally, we observed meaningful relationships between personality traits and perceived improvements. On average, people have some insight in assessing whether they became happier (or unhappier) over one year.

Alex Faunce
Class of 2018

Faunce, J. A., Blumenthal, T. D. & Waugh, C. E. (2022). Anxiety and initial value dependence in startle habituation. Psychophysiology, 00, e14071.

DOI: 10.1111/psyp.14071

Studies suggest that deficits in startle reflex habituation occur in trait and clinical anxiety. Measures of habituation are affected by the magnitude of the initial response, with larger initial responses predicting a steeper decline in response over repeated trials. This relationship between initial value and change, commonly called the Law of Initial Value or initial value dependence (IVD), has been partialled out as a covariate in habituation research, but variation in IVD may be informative in itself, reflecting differences in physiological reactivity. The present study explored how trait anxiety and contextual anxiety relate to habituation kinetics of the startle eyeblink response: initial value, linear habituation slope, and the relationship between them (IVD). Participants (n = 31; 15 Control, 16 Contextual Anxiety [CA]) were exposed to two blocks of acoustic startle stimuli, and CA participants were warned that they may receive an electrical shock to the wrist during block 2. Trait anxiety did not predict habituation slope, but it did predict a weaker IVD relationship, meaning that high initial startle magnitude was less predictive of a steep response decline in trait‐anxious subjects. Meanwhile, CA did not impact startle habituation or IVD. The results suggest that individual differences in trait anxiety are related to the relationship between initial physiological response magnitude and subsequent change in response. IVD in startle habituation may thus serve as a better biomarker of healthy emotional responding than startle habituation per se. Startle reflex habituation relates to emotion regulation, but this relationship may be more meaningful when habituation is considered in the context of initial reactivity, referred to as initial value dependence (IVD). IVD is related to trait anxiety, and may also predict the efficacy of emotion regulation more generally.