The Health Psychology Lab is run by Professor Michael Berg and is currently located in Knapton 301.
Social Perceptions and Health Beliefs
Our lab explores the application of social psychological theory (e.g., issues of identity, prejudice, and motivation) to public health outcomes, with a particular focus on social inequality and traditionally underserved populations. This approach, commonly referred to as the biopsychosocial approach to health, focuses on the interaction between the body, the mind, and social forces in an interdisciplinary fashion. In particular, we are interested in learning how stereotypes and prejudice affect people’s health-related attitudes. For example, we have studied how weight bias influences attitudes towards public health policies (such as raising the cost of sugary foods, or charging greater health insurance premiums to obese individuals). We are also interested in how a given social context (such as the age, gender, location, race, or weight of a target individual) influences body dissatisfaction and how weight stereotypes intersect with other aspects of identity such as gender and race. We have also researched college tobacco use including the effect of school policies on attitudes and behavior and the role of smoking-related identity in shaping cigarette use.
Previous (and occasionally revisited) lab projects have focused on the application of Social Psychology to a variety of health-related behaviors and attitudes. One topic of particular interest has been the mental health correlates and behavioral factors associated with HIV infection. In this research we explored the mental health concerns of HIV-infected individuals and examined the critical role that HIV appointment adherence plays in maintaining health. We have also studied how cultural values shape beliefs about the causes of health outcomes.
Volunteering in the Health Psychology Lab
Student volunteers are welcome, particularly at the beginning of the academic year. Past student activities have included the design of study materials and survey instruments, literature searches, data collections, and even collaborating on writing up articles for publication. Students with advanced experience in the lab will be encouraged to pursue their own independent research and honors theses.