CURF: Investigating the Strategies We Use to Cope

Hello everyone!

My name is Margie Lynch and I’m honored to say that I have received the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship for this fall. As of now, I am a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience and a certificate in Global Health. Although I am still developing my career plans, I am seriously considering a graduate program in clinical psychology with an emphasis on trauma and depression among adolescents.

For the past year, I have had the privilege of working in the FEND lab as an undergraduate research assistant with a focus on depression and anxiety in female adolescents. I’ve been able to help with data collection, observe clinical interviews, and participate in a wide variety of other research-related tasks. This semester, however, I plan on branching out into my own area of exploration. Under the supervision of Dr. Jennifer Silk, I will be conducting some exciting research on emotion regulation and peer-interactions alongside my mentor, Kirsten McKone, a graduate student in the Pitt clinical-developmental psychology program.

At one point or another, all of us have exhibited some form of emotion regulation (i.e. internal or external processes that control the occurrence, intensity and expression of emotion). Perhaps you like to retreat to the bathroom after an intense argument, or maybe you prefer to make a list of positive ideas during stressful scenarios. However, what you may not know is that psychologists have been able to distinguish between the specific emotion regulation strategies that help minimize the amount of negative emotion felt by an individual and the strategies that actually backfire.

My project focuses on the relationship between parental regulation strategies exhibited during parent-child interactions and the strategies utilized by adolescents while with their friends or classmates.   Using information collected from both in-person lab visits and online questionnaires, I will be able to determine whether or not a parent’s demonstrated ability to regulate negative emotion during a conflict oriented child-parent task correlates with adolescent use of adaptive or maladaptive regulation strategies. 

I find this topic of particular importance given how critical emotional regulation is in our relationships with those around us. For adolescents, in particular, regulation of negative affect is a useful skill proven to be essential for social development and general mental health during a developmental period known for an increased sense of social pressure. Hopefully, the results of my project will contribute meaningful insight to the vast body of research focused on adolescent mental health and emotion regulation.

I look forward to delving into this topic and developing new skills that will surely come in handy as I decide whether to pursue a career embedded in research.

Thank you!

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