My early work focused on social support and close relationships, where I studied how perceptions of support from close others influence relationship satisfaction. My later work investigated cultural differences in coping with stressors like HIV infection, pregnancy, and smoking cessation. Building on and continuing with my previous interests, I am currently investigating ways to diffuse objectification and sexism, increase health, and fitness, and increase learning. I maintain an active research lab with student research assistants and I also support independent and honor studies. See my CV for publications and presentations on the topics below.
I have three main areas of interest:
Sexism, Impression Formation, and Clothing
Perceptions of people are very dependant on what it is they are wearing and job status, sociability, income, health and fitness can be perceived from clothing. People use categories when describing others and learn what types of clothing are associated with categories or labels. What a person chooses to wear can say a lot about their personality and perhaps even their mood. Different types of clothing send different messages. For example, men perceived women in revealing clothing as having a higher level of sexual intent, and as being more flirtatious, seductive, and promiscuous. A model dressed in ‘sexy clothing’ is viewed as more attractive and sexually appealing, sexy clothes negatively affected perceivers’ views of the model’s faithfulness or likeability. Do these findings hold for women of different body types and sizes? What elements of clothing drive perceptions?
I have begun a research program designed to answer the simple question: How can we optimize student learning? The first step towards answering this question involves gaining a thorough knowledge of extant attempts to understand how students learn. Any examination of how students learn necessitates a focus on three major components: Student behaviors (e.g., study techniques), Instructor behaviors (how is learning facilitated?), and the means content is transferred (textbooks and technology). Studies in progress address each of these areas.
How do we help people get on track with health behaviors? What is the best way to get children to lead healthy lives? What is the role of stress in well-being? These are some of the questions I am exploring in a variety of lab and community based studies. I work closely with LIVE54218, an organization in Green Bay whose goal is to make the county one of the healthiest in the nation. I am also exploring ways to advance mindfulness.