University of Minnesota
Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology's home page.


  • April 2015

    Administrative Updates & Announcements

     We are pleased to welcome a new staff member to our Central Office - Marina McCuskey. Marina is replacing Missy Jones, who is now working with the Chair's Office. Stop by when you can, and help us welcome Marina to the Department! 

    Great news!  The undergraduate research contract process has now moved online.  Faculty and graduate students working with undergraduate RAs for Psy 5993 or Psy 4993 credit can now complete the research contract process electronically. Paper copies will also continue to be accepted during the current registration period. Students initiate the contract, which is then routed first to the faculty mentor and then to Psychology Advising for departmental approval. Lab supervisors, other than faculty, may also be included in this approval routing process. Undergraduates will continue to receive registration instructions and permission numbers from the Psychology Advising Office. For detailed instructions, see: Mentor questions? Contact
    (Please direct undergraduate students' questions to or N108 Elliott.)

    Awards & Accomplishments

    Professor Traci Mann was interviewed in the BBC documentary series The Men Who Made Us Thin ("Jacques Peretti investigates the connections between obesity and weight loss, confronting some of the men making a fortune from our desire to become thin"), which aired on tpt on March 17th.  Learn more about the show here or here.

    Upcoming Events (Printable PDF)

    Colloquia in Interpersonal Relationships Research (IREL)
    Co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Child Development

    Dr. Paul W. Eastwick 

    Department of Human Development and Family Sciences
    University of Texas at Austin
    "The Relationship Coordination and Strategic Timing (ReCAST) Model: Integrating Evolutionary and Close Relationships Perspectives on Relationship Development"
    Thursday 4/2/15
    3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Evolutionary psychological models of mating suggest that people adopt different mating strategies, and these strategies vary in their emphasis on short-term mating effort (e.g., acquiring many partners) vs. long-term parenting effort (e.g., investing in one partner). Close relationships researchers frequently derive predictions from stage or time-course models in which dyads form established, interdependent relationships over time by coordinating life activities and executing relationship maintenance strategies. Crossover between these two literatures is limited; in this talk, I outline the Relationship Coordination and Strategic Timing (ReCAST) model as a possible synthesis of these two perspectives. Descriptive data on the time course of participants' real-life short-term and long-term relationships provide initial support for the model. In addition, the model generates new predictions about how people conceptualize short-term and long-term relationships, the extent to which short-term vs. long-term relationship length is predictable a priori, and the manner in which individual difference variables (e.g., physical attractiveness, sociosexuality) intersect with relationship initiation and maintenance processes.
    Department of Psychology Colloquium
    Sponsored by the Quantitative/Psychometric Methods Area

    Dr. George Karabatsos, Ph.D. 

    Professor of Educational Psychology
    University of Illinois - Chicago
    "Bayesian Methods for Testing Axioms of Measurement"
    Friday 4/3/15
    2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
    N219 Elliott Hall
    A theory (model) of measurement implies the assumption that data satisfy a set of measurement axioms, which are typically stated in terms of a set of (deterministic) order restrictions for the data. These measurement axioms (order relations) describe the key necessary conditions under which interval and/or ordinal measurement (e.g., of persons and items) is possible. In principle, the measurement theory (model) can be empirically evaluated through statistical tests of relevant axioms on data, in informative detail.
    A general Bayesian order restricted statistical inference framework, introduced by Karabatsos (2001), can provide a useful approach to testing measurement axioms on real data. In this approach, a set of measurement axioms implies a prior distribution which states, with a-priori probability 1, that a set of binomial parameters satisfies a set of order restrictions that are relevant to the axiom(s). In other words, a set of measurement axioms implies the composite null hypothesis that the set of binomial parameters is located in a subset of the parameter space that is consistent with the axiom(s)' order restrictions. This same general Bayesian approach was later applied to provide tests of axioms that underlie theories (models) of behavioral decision-making.
    In this presentation, I will introduce the Bayesian order restricted statistical inference approach to testing measurement axioms. I will then illustrate the general Bayesian approach through tests of key axioms of various measurement theories, including the Rasch model which assumes interval-scaled measurement of examinee ability and test item difficulty; and including the monotone homogeneity and double monotonicity models of nonparametric item response theory (IRT), which assume that examinee and items are measurable on an ordinal scale. The occurrence of axiom violations may point to the need to specify a more flexible IRT model for the given data set at hand. This can be achieved through a Bayesian nonparametric approach to IRT, which would define a more flexible IRT model that provides outlier-robust estimates of examinee and item parameters.
    PIB/BP Colloquium

    Dr. Chris Chabris 

    Union College
    "Collective Intelligence, Individual Intelligence, and Social Intelligence"
    Monday, April 20, 2015
    11:30 am - 12:30pm
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Aristotle wrote: "For each individual among the many has a share of excellence and practical wisdom, and when they meet together, just as they become in a manner one man, who has many feet, and hands, and senses, so too with regard to their character and thought." If a group is indeed "in a manner" like an individual, then the collective intelligence of small groups may be subject to principles similar to those that have been discovered over the past one hundred years of research on individual intelligence. In this talk I will discuss the parallels and divergences between several recent findings about the nature of collective intelligence in small groups and the mechanisms that explain individual differences in cognitive ability. I will suggest that intelligence, in the psychometric sense of correlated variation in cognitive abilities, is a property of all types of complex information processing systems in nature, whether they are individual humans, individual animals, or different human groups. I will also suggest that in order to understand the collective intelligence of groups, we must improve our understanding of social intelligence (also known as "mentalizing" or "theory of mind") in individuals, and I will present some steps toward that goal.

    Dr. Zlatan Krizan

    Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Iowa State University
    "Dissecting Narcissistic Personality"
    Wednesday, April 22, 2015
    4:00 - 5:00 pm
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Narcissism continues to fascinate psychologists, clinicians, and lay people alike. Despite this construct's century-long history, intense disagreement about the nature, function, and origin of narcissistic personality stubbornly persists. Moreover, disagreements often reflect distinct empirical and theoretical approaches taken by scholars from clinical, personality, or social psychology. In order to provide a synthetic account of narcissistic personality and reconcile divergent views, the talk introduces the Narcissism Spectrum Model and a supporting program of research. The model provides an integrative account of narcissistic traits, their inter-relationships, and their functional distinctions. In addition, the talk illustrates the utility of the model in contextualizing narcissism measures, integrating prior theoretical views, and linking narcissism to related personality dysfunction (i.e., psychopathy, borderline). On the whole, the model offers a promising integration of empirical data on narcissistic personality from various sub-disciplines of psychology.

    Dr. Dorothy Espelage

    University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    "Prevention of Aggression and Victimization in Middle School: A Randomized Controlled Trial"
    Thursday, April 23, 2015
    2:00 - 3:00 pm
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Results of a three-year randomized clinical trial of Second Step: Student Success Through Prevention (SS-SSTP) Middle School Program (Committee for Children, 2008) on reducing multiple forms of aggression and victimization are presented. Thirty-six schools in Illinois and Kansas implemented the program over a three-year period. Teachers implemented 41 lessons of the 6-8th grade curriculum that focused on social emotional learning skills, including empathy, bully prevention, and problem-solving skills. All 6 graders (n = 3658) in intervention and control conditions completed self-report measures assessing verbal/relational bullying, aggression, homophobic name-calling and sexual violence victimization and perpetration at three waves. Multilevel analyses revealed significant intervention by state effects for two of the seven outcomes. Students in Illinois intervention schools were 56% less likely to self-report homophobic name-calling victimization and were 39% less likely to report sexual violence perpetration than students in control schools. Results suggest that SS-SSTP holds promise as an efficacious prevention program to reduce homophobic name-calling and sexual violence in adolescent youth. Also, indirect treatment effects were found for all outcomes through reductions in self-reported delinquency. Discussion will focus on real-world issues that arise when implementing interventions to scale.
    Colloquia in Interpersonal Relationships Research (IREL)
    Co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota

    Dr. Lisa Neff

    University of Texas at Austin
    "Till death do us part? Understanding relationship maintenance and change in early marriage"
    Thursday, April 30, 2015
    3:00 - 4:00 pm
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Most people agree that maintaining a satisfying marriage is one of the most important things in life. Yet despite the strong feelings of love and commitment that characterize newlywed couples, many couples struggle to maintain their marital quality over time. A key question, then, is how are some couples able to maintain their initial feelings of satisfaction despite the challenges of a long-term relationship, whereas other couples are not? In order to understand marital change, I will describe a hierarchical model of relationship satisfaction which identifies important differences in the way global and specific perceptions operate within relationships. Using this model, I will present research demonstrating the kinds of relationship processes associated with positive marital outcomes. I also will draw from this model to highlight how stressors external to the relationship (e.g., work stress, financial difficulties) hinder couples' efforts to engage in relationship-promoting behaviors.

    Dr. Jill Hooley 

    Harvard University
    "The Role of Criticism in Psychopathology: Or Why You Should Be Nicer To People Than You Currently Are"
    Friday, May 1, 2015
    9:00 - 10:15 am
    N219 Elliott Hall
    Criticism is a common and inevitable consequence of living in a social world. Although unpleasant, most people handle it without too much difficulty. Yet when people who suffer from problems such as schizophrenia or depression live in family environments that are characterized by criticism, they are at increased risk of relapse. Why should this be? In this presentation I will discuss findings from studies that seek to understand why criticism is linked to poor clinical outcomes. I will consider the personality characteristics that might explain why some people are criticism sensitive and describe research that reveals potentially important individual differences in brain responses to hearing criticism from a close family member. Finally, I will also discuss recent findings that suggest that, even in non-clinical samples, perceptions of criticism in close personal relationships are associated with subtle cognitive processing biases — biases that might reflect underlying vulnerabilities to developing psychopathology. Overall, the findings highlight the importance of criticism as a challenging form of social stress and suggest that perceptions of criticism moderate how we process negative emotional stimuli.

    April 1st, 2015

Chair's Office

Monica Luciana
N210 EltH - 625-7873

Pat Frazier
Associate Chair
N571 EltH - 625-6863

Jonathan Gewirtz
Associate Chair
S245 EltH - 625-6653

Guillermo De Paz
N210 EltH - 625-7852

Orbe D. Walther
Assistant to the Chair
N210 EltH - 625-7873

Heidi Wolff
Executive Ofc & Admin Specialist
S248 EltH - 626-3171

Submit to DATA