Research Opportunities in Psychology

Human brain Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Research is a key component of the work faculty do in the Department of Psychology, and almost all of their research is done in collaboration with students – both undergraduate and graduate students.

Our Faculty Research

Take a look at the research currently taking place in the department of psychology and the faculty who are leading these projects. 

Developmental Psychology

Research Interest: Cook explores adolescent risk factors and trajectories of antisocial behavior. Her study uses national data sets to examine the influence of risk factors during adolescence on trajectories of antisocial behavior into adulthood.

Cook is also investigating developmental stressors, physiological reactivity and adolescent risk behavior. Her study examines gender differences in parent-child relationships and peer competency on adolescents' stress reactivity and risk behavior in a community sample of adolescents. To learn more, visit the Adolescent Parent Peer Lab

Social Psychology

Research Interest: Dottolo’s research explores how social identities are constructed and maintained, and the ways they are shaped by social and institutional structures. Her work in feminist psychology centers on race, class, gender, sexuality and qualitative research methods.

Social and Environmental Psychology

Research Interest: Lacasse is interested in understanding what motivates people's concern and willingness to take action to address social problems. Much of her work is conducted in interdisciplinary teams, integrating ideas and methods from several fields to generate new approaches to studying environmental issues.

Current lines of research focus on:

  • Understanding the factors that influence people’s concern about climate change and their willingness to perform pro-environmental behaviors and support environmental policies.
  • How the labels people are assigned (related to their mental health, environmentalism, or past violent behaviors) shape the way they view themselves and are viewed by other people.
  • How gender norms shape people’s perceptions of risk and willingness to perform health behaviors. 
  • Integrating human behavior and risk perception feedbacks into the modeling of the climate and local ecological systems.

Developmental Psychology/Addiction Studies

Research Interest: Ladd is engaged in a cross-sectional (by age) investigation of adolescents' perceptions of scratch ticket images. His research explores if there are developmental differences in how adolescents perceive scratch tickets. The Gambling Studies Project.

Social Psychology

Research Interests: Professor Malloy is interested in interpersonal and intergroup behavior including perception, affect, and overt action.  Recently with funding from the U.S. - Israel Binational Science Foundation, he has embarked on a program of research on listening and its consequences in dyads (two people).  Professor Malloy is also interested in statistical models of round robin data.

Research Interest: Marco’s interest is in the Young Adolescent Sleep-Smart Pacesetter Program. Her research is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Social Cognition

Dr. Melissa Marcotte earned her B.A. in psychology and B.S. in chemical dependency and addiction studies at Rhode Island College. She went on to earn her master’s degree and Ph.D. in behavioral science at URI, with a focus on multicultural psychology and research design and statistics. Initially a first-generation college student from Woonsocket, Marcotte returned to RIC in 2017 to begin teaching in RIC’s Department of Psychology, with the intention of giving her students, particularly first-generation and other underrepresented students in STEM, the opportunity to learn about, participate in, and develop a love for statistics and research methods. 

Marcotte engages in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. She runs the Department of Psychology’s Social Cognition Lab, where undergraduate and graduate student research assistants use physiological equipment, such as eye-trackers and heart rate monitors, to measure participants’ reactions to personal identity triggers. As a Buddhist and Kingian Nonviolence trainer, her current research focuses on experiences that lead to cognitive dissonance, which result in inter- and intrapersonal acts of aggression. She is also interested in potential interventions and practices to prevent such violence. Other areas of research include the experience and impact of gender norms and expectations, sense of belonging in college students, and how mindfulness can impact the well-being of college students.

Clinical Psychology: Behavioral Medicine and Addiction Studies

Research Interests: Spas is interested in developing and testing innovative interventions that target multiple behavior change. More specifically, by targeting smoking, alcohol misuse, unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles – the most prominent lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and some cancers – his goal is to help elucidate the science of multiple behavior change while simultaneously promoting health, wellness and disease prevention.

Cognitive Psychology

Research Interest: Sumeracki’s research focuses on retrieval-based learning strategies as a way to improve long-term and meaningful learning in STEM disciplines. Her projects include investigating ways to optimize retrieval as a learning technique, investigating retrieval-based learning in younger populations of students and examining whether individual differences interact with the effectiveness of retrieval-based learning styles.

Community Psychology
Research Interests: I maintain an active research lab in community psychology that uses a systems approach to promote mental health and overall well-being.  Ecological theory guides my work, in which multiple ecosystems that impact the individual are highlighted, including family, school, work, community, and society. 

I value ongoing research collaborations with experts across various fields, including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, public health, education, and pediatric medicine.  Both graduate and undergraduate students may work on various research topics in this lab, including:

Community-Based Prevention & Intervention

Stress and Wellness, including:

  • Risky Behavior among College Students

Community-Based Public School Improvement Planning, including:

  • ESL/ELL Teaching and Teacher Education
  • Immigrant and Refugee Student Experiences