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Faculty research, service and professional interests

Bonnie Angelone, Associate Professor

My primary area of interest is people’s inability to detect changes to visual stimuli, a phenomenon known as change blindness. For example, imagine a pedestrian asked you directions to a certain location on campus. While you were talking, a couple of construction workers walk between you and the lost person carrying a large door. During this interruption the person you were talking to switches with one of the construction workers behind the door. Do you think you would notice that you were now talking to a completely different person? Although almost everyone believes they would notice that their conversation partner changed before their eyes, only about half actually do. Because change blindness is a counterintuitive finding, I became interested in why it occurs for centrally attended stimuli. I am currently working on projects to examine factors that may affect people’s ability to detect changes. For example, working memory capacity, people’s prior expectations, people’s general knowledge about vision and individual differences are a few of the many possible factors that may influence change detection. Please contact me if you would like more information about my research or if you are interested in getting involved with any related projects (e-mail: angelone@rowan.edu, or stop by my office!!)

D.J. Angelone, Associate Professor

My primary research interests focus on sexually aggressive behavior from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the victim. I am also interested in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and Substance Abuse both as independent disorders and in relation to sexual aggression. In the past, I have examined person and situational factors that can influence men’s engagement in sexually aggressive behavior in a laboratory setting, as well as the influence of such factors on men and women’s perceptions of sexually aggressive behavior. For example, I have examined the relationship between factors such as peer interactions, alcohol use, alcohol expectancies, “Club drug” use, intentionality, sexual orientation, and cognitive defensiveness with sexual assault and sexual harassment in the context of a person X situation model. In addition, I am interested in human sexuality and couple’s issues and the psychological treatment of substance abuse and victims and perpetrators of sexual assault and other trauma. Finally, I am interested in examining outcome data relevant to factors associated with substance abuse treatment. Please contact me if you would like more information about my research or if you are interested in getting involved with related projects.

Janet Cahill, Professor

My interests are in evidenced based assessments and interventions for children and families involved in the child welfare system. This includes multi-modal assessment for parental capacity evaluations and best practice behavioral parenting programs. I am also involved in developing trainings for child protection workers.

Tom Dinzeo, Associate Professor

My general area of research is adult psychopathology and the psychotic disorders. I have a particular interest in the relationship between individual differences in personality and clinically relevant phenomena in those with schizophrenia or schizophrenia spectrum disorders. I have also been increasingly interested in cognitive models of schizophrenia as a way of understanding the idiosyncratic presentation of symptoms and the large degree of variation in clinical course and outcome among those with psychotic disorders. Undergraduate students who are interested in these topics and would like to obtain research experience are encouraged to contact me via email (dinzeo@rowan.edu) or by dropping in to see me at my office in Robinson Hall (room 116D).

Eleanor Gaer, Professor

One of my areas of research interest is in psychology and law. I study the cognitive processes involved in legal decision making. One question I am investigating is how jurors make decisions about legal standards. I am presently examining whether it makes a difference in jurors' decision making if the standard used in deciding sexual harassment cases is a reasonable person or a reasonable woman. I have also recently investigated what factors entrer into jurors' determinations of whether someone committed an act intentionally or unintentionally. Another of my research interests is psycholinguistics, or the psychology of language. I have done research on the understanding of grammatical forms, specifically complex sentences. The purpose of the research was to determine what kinds of complex sentences are harder for people to understand, and why. Independent study students have worked with me on all of these research projects. If you would like more information, please contact me.

Jim Haugh, Associate Professor

My research interests are threefold. First, I am interested in the development and treatment of depressive disorders, with a specific focus on specific and non-specific factors related to these two syndromes. I have explored a number of psychosocial factors related to this goal, including social problem solving abilities, social support, ruminative response styles, coping, personality/schemas, and automatic thinking. Second, I am interested in the role of psychosocial factors in the prediction of specific disorders that are commonly comorbid with depressive disorders or symptoms. Most recently, this research has resulted in a number of investigations exploring the comorbidity between anxious depressive symptoms. Finally, I am interested in psychotherapy process and outcome research. This research has included predicting treatment progress in juvenile offenders, exploring the role of the therapeutic relationship in predicting treatment progress and outcome, and using case study methodology to explore treatment progress and outcome. I have an active research team that includes both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students can volunteer time as a research assistant where they assist with one of the ongoing projects, or they can sign up for an independent study where they will conduct one of their own studies that is consistent with my research interests.

Gerald Hough, Associate Professor

My areas of interest center around how birds (and by extension, people) learn navigational maps in their world, and how these maps change across the lifespan. These research projects include investigating the neurobiology of bird behavior, with a specific focus on the navigational abilities of homing pigeons and language evolution in Hawaiian honeycreepers. I perform both behavioral and physiological investigations of these phenomena using behavioral, bioacoustic, and tracking experiments. Ongling projects include the effects of rotating landmarks on the food searching behavior of homing pigeons, the effects of landscape differences on the homing abilities in homing pigeons, and the differences in 'Amakihi songs across several islands in Hawaii. My office is located in Science Hall 201D. If you wish to talk more to me about these lines of research, please contact me via email (hough@rowan.edu).

MaryLou Kerwin, Professor and Chair of Psychology

My research interests are in applied behavior analysis, especially the assessment and treatment of pediatric feeding problems, child abuse and neglect, and substance abuse. I am particularly interested in the relationship between substance abuse and parenting as well as in developing integrated treatments for substance abuse and parenting difficulties.

Rory O'Brien McElwee, Associate Professor

How likely is it that the next few years will be terrific for you? How likely is it that the next few years will be terrific for the world? People tend to answer these questions quite differently, exhibiting more optimism for their own personal future than for a more global world’s future. My research program addresses people’s future thoughts in both the personal and global domains. Within the personal domain, I conduct research about how people think about themselves in the future, both the content of those thoughts (what you might become) and the processes of those thoughts (Do you see yourself clearly in the future? Do you think about your future self frequently?). My research has shown that thinking clearly about yourself in the future is associated with myriad positive outcomes like life satisfaction and lower levels of depressed mood. However, thinking about yourself frequently in the future seems to be more associated with anxiety, perhaps worrying about the unknown. Within the global domain, I conduct research about optimism for the nonpersonal or world’s future with special focus on environmental attitudes. People differ in their views of the severity of the current and worsening ecocrisis and have differing coping styles to deal with related anxiety. Several recent, current, and planned studies examine these issues in various ways. I am always interested in hearing from undergraduate psychology students who would like to gain research experience by collaborating in my lab, either for independent study credit or on a volunteer basis. Please contact me at mcelwee@rowan.edu or come by my office to talk about your interests.

Tricia Yurak, Associate Professor

My research interests focus on interpersonal processes and personality characteristics related to self-esteem, social comparison, fear of negative evaluation, and the experience of envy and jealousy. One recent research program examines the motivation for and functions of hurtful criticism. All of us have experienced criticism countless times in our lives: Friends, family, and colleagues have all found fault with us either interpersonally or professionally. Regardless of the reason, being criticized often results in hurt and negative feelings. Because we possess an innate need to bond socially with others, criticism seems counterproductive considering its resulting feelings, which presumably would threaten our social bonds. Thus, it seems reasonable to suspect that the motivation for and functions of criticism outweigh its negative interpersonal consequences. My research examines the causes (i.e., feelings and events) and intentions of criticism and also its affective consequences (or benefits) for both the critic and target of criticism. In addition, I am interested in how feelings are influenced by the publicity of the situation and fear of negative evaluation. Previous undergraduate research assistants who have helped me greatly include Nicole Bamford, Erin Devenny, Austin Procida, and Rob Neidig.