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 Year-long (10-12 months)
Start time Spring (January/February)
Level of collaboration Large group collaboration (4+ students)
Benefits Academic credit; Volunteer
Who is eligible All undergraduate students
Support Funding is available after the completion of the preparation badge. See below.

Project mentor

Mark Seery

Associate Professor

Dept. of Psychology

361 Park Hall

Phone: (716) 645-0239



To engage with this project, you will work through a series of Project-Based Collaboration digital badges to guide your experience. These badges will:

  1. Guide you in setting your goals and intentions as well as gaining additional context,
  2. Enhance your collaboration with your mentor/partner,
  3. Support your reflection and help you integrate your learning with your academic and professional goals.

All students who wish to participate in a project on the Project Portal must first complete the Project Preparation Digital Badge. First, contact the project mentor to discuss availability and after you’ve received approval, you can start the Project Preparation Digital Badge.

Preparation guidance

Once you have registered for the Project Preparation Digital Badge, you will receive further instructions related to the activities you will need to complete. In addition, you will also complete the following preparation activities for this particular project: