Social Psychophysiology Lab: Using the Body to Measure the Mind

A medical student checks a young woman sitting in a chair.

Investigate the psychology of stress, coping, and resilience.

Project description

In the Social Psychophysiology Lab, we are interested in stress and coping; specifically, understanding the factors that contribute to resilience versus vulnerability to potential stressors. We measure participants’ cardiovascular responses (i.e., blood pressure, heart rate, and how much blood the heart is pumping) during potentially stressful tasks, such as giving a speech, problem solving, and interacting with others. We use these bodily responses as a way to measure participants’ psychological states while they perform the task, without having to interrupt them to ask or depend on them to accurately self-report what they are thinking or feeling.

Our current research focuses on three core topics: 

  1. Examining when and how high self-esteem serves as a resource versus a vulnerability, and the associated consequences for potentially destructive behavior
  2. Investigating how past experience of adverse life events can contribute to developing a propensity for future resilience
  3. Exploring the role of individuals’ relationships with other people and entities (e.g., romantic partners, things that inspire awe) in resilience versus vulnerability

As a research assistant in the Social Psychophysiology Lab, you will work as part of a team, gaining hands-on experience by running research participants through the experimental procedures and operating a variety of physiological recording equipment (no previous experience is necessary).

Project outcome

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Two semesters
Start time Fall (August/September) or Spring (January/February)
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Large group collaboration (4+ students)
Benefits Academic credit; Volunteer
Who is eligible All undergraduate students

Project mentor

Mark Seery


Dept. of Psychology

361 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0239


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase.