DEAR Study (Daily Emotions and Relationships)

Supervising Faculty: Lori Scott, PhD and Lauren M. Bylsma, PhD

Contact: Betsy Butler, polleyba@upmc.edu

Area of Research: Clinical Psychology

Description of Research: Our joint research program focuses on physiological processes underlying emotion regulation in the laboratory and in daily life in relation to affective disorders (depression, anxiety) and suicide risk. Currently two related projects are ongoing. First, in the DEAR Study (Daily Emotions and Relationships), we are interested in learning how momentary and daily ups and downs in emotions and relationships influence changes in depression symptoms and suicide risk. In this study we assess adults with recent suicide ideation or attempts over a one-year period, including interview assessments, questionnaires, collecting physiological data while they are engaging in interpersonal tasks, and ecological momentary assessments regarding emotion and behavior in daily life. In the second project, the FEEL Study (Feeling Emotions in Everyday Life), we are interested in the association between emotion regulation capacity in the laboratory and emotion regulation effectiveness in daily life in adults with elevated depression and anxiety symptoms using laboratory and ambulatory psychophysiological assessment. Students may choose to participate in one or both projects, depending on their interests and project needs in a given semester.

Duties of Students: All students will attend weekly project meetings and journal club and will compete literature reviews and readings to understand the conceptual and theoretical bases for the research. All students will assist with processing (i.e., artifact correction) and analysis of psychophysiology data, as well as general data management tasks, which may be completed either on site or virtually. On-site opportunities may be available to assist with running participants through the laboratory/physiological data collection tasks. Other project specific opportunities may include conducting clinical phone screens with potential participants, scheduling participants, providing instructions to participants for the ecological momentary assessment/ambulatory assessment tasks, and observing clinical interviews. Students will complete a paper, poster, or journal club presentation at the end of the course. Advanced students are encouraged to engage in data analysis and conference presentations or manuscript preparation (including working with archival data collected from other related projects), depending on specific background and interests.

Requirements:

  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lab
  • Register for 2-3 units of directed research (6-9 hours per week)
  • Minimum 2 semester commitment
  • Strong interpersonal and organizational skills

Additional Information: Having some prior experience with research, working with clinical populations, and statistical or programming experience are helpful to get the most out of this experience.

Recruitment Process: Students who express interest via e-mail will be asked to submit a CV or resume and a brief cover letter. If the student’s interests align with the research opportunities offered in my lab, and if student positions are available, we will organize an in-person or virtual interview with myself, Dr. Scott, and/or a postgraduate (postdoc or research administrator) working with Dr. Scott. To reduce bias and ensure equity in consideration of candidates, all students will be asked a uniform set of questions regarding their prior experience, research interests, goals for directed study, and career goals. We will provide detailed information about the research opportunities offered and expectations for students, and candidates will be given opportunities to ask any questions.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring, Summer

Number of Students: 6