Descriptions of Our Labs

Optimism-Pessimism Lab

Research over the past 3 decades has fostered a view of optimism as good and pessimism as bad. Indeed, findings have tended to support this view. However, we believe that alternative views are also worth considering. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: Are there conditions and contexts in which pessimism is “good” and optimism is “bad”?, Is optimism universally valued across different cultural and racial groups?, Are there differences in the way individuals perceive the functions of optimism and pessimism?, Is there any value in identifying more specific dimensions or aspects of general optimism and pessimism?, Can we develop interventions that effectively target optimism and pessimism associated with dysfunction and disregulation among patients?

Perfectionism Lab

Research over the past 2 decades has fostered a view of perfectionism as pathological. However, growing evidence suggests that perfectionism may also involve adaptive or non-pathological features. Accordingly, our lab has been interested in taking a closer look at trying to better understand the growing gap between data and theory in the study of perfectionism. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: Is perfectionism better viewed as an antecedent or consequence of maladjustment?, What are the most useful measures of perfectionism?, Are there differences in the way individuals perceive the consequences of perfectionism?, Under what conditions might perfectionism serve adaptive or useful functions?, Are there cultural differences in the function of perfectionism?, What are the developmental underpinnings of perfectionism in children?

Chang China Lab

The Chang China Lab is made up of a small group of students from China, currently studying at various universities in the US (e.g., University of Michigan, Syracuse University, Michigan State University). The primary goal of this lab is to provide these students, regardless of their major, an opportunity to work closely with Dr. Chang to learn how research is done. Although there is no specific topic that defines the Chang China Lab, there is an emphasis on cultural and contextual factors in understanding human behavior. The Chang China Lab seeks to not only provide Chinese students with substantive opportunities to learn about how research is done, but also unique opportunities to produce and present research (i.e., conference presentations, journal publications). China Lab Members

CHANG Sports LAB

The Chang Sports Lab is made up of a small group of Division 1 college athletes (e.g., golfing, swimming, crew) at the University of Michigan. The primary goal of this lab is to provide these students, who are also psychology majors, an opportunity to work closely with Dr. Chang to learn how research is done. Although there is no specific topic that defines the Chang Sports Lab, there is an emphasis on examining the interplay between personality, performance, and adjustment in athletes, compared to non-athletes. The Chang Sports Lab seeks to not only provide student athletes with substantive opportunities to learn about how research is done, but also unique opportunities to produce and present research (i.e., conference presentations, journal publications). Sports Lab Members

Loneliness Lab

For decades, research has identified loneliness as pathological and dysfunctional. In particular, loneliness has been found to be predictive of depressive symptoms. Yet, few studies have examined specific models of loneliness, and cultural/racial variations in the form and function of loneliness. Accordingly, our lab is interested testing specific models of loneliness. Likewise, we are also interested in examining potential variations in the form and function of loneliness across different cultural/racial groups throughout the lifespan. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: Is there evidence for a stress-mediation model of loneliness? What factors moderate the link between loneliness and adjustment? What accounts for the stronger link between loneliness and depressive symptoms vs. anxious symptoms? Are there differences in the function of loneliness in different racial/ethnic groups? Is loneliness equally important in accounting for adjustment between those from collectivistic backgrounds (e.g., Asian, Hispanic) vs. individualistic backgrounds (e.g., European)?

Social Problem Solving Lab

According to some researchers, how we solve everyday problems determine our ability to adjust well throughout life. Five dimensions of social problem solving have been posited by researchers, namely, positive problem orientation, negative problem orientation, rational problem solving, impulsivity/carelessness style, and avoidance style. Of these dimensions, negative problem orientation has consistently emerged as a robust correlate of maladjustment. Yet, numerous questions remain. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: Under what conditions do other dimensions of social problem solving play a key role in adjustment?, What are the effects of social problem solving training on subsequent attitudes and behaviors?, Is social problem solving better viewed as a global construct, or as one that is linked to different domains?, Does social problem solving function in the same manner across different groups?

American Dream Lab

Most people believe that it is desirable to pursue the American Dream (e.g., become financially successful). However, findings from past studies have suggested that there may also be some costs to seeking future financial success. We find this research intriguing, especially in light of recent economic events over the past year. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: Are there any “positives” of seeking the American Dream?, Are there factors that impact people’s pursuit of the American Dream?, Does what happen on Wall Street (e.g., Dow Jones performance) affect the attitudes and beliefs of those still living and studying on Main Street?, Are there cultural differences in what predicts the pursuit of financial success among adults?

Violence Ideation Lab

Researchers have sometimes talked about “random acts of violence”. However, the presence of chronic violence/aggressive thoughts may represent an important precursor to the development of aggressive intentions, and ultimately aggressive acts. To date, not much research has focused on violence ideation. Some of the questions our lab is interested in asking are: How can we measure violence ideation?, Is violence ideation common among college students?, Are there cultural or gender differences in violence ideation?, What are the precursor to the development of violence ideation in adults?, What can be done to reduce or mitigate the course and consequence of violence ideation?