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Applied Basic Cognition Lab

Our lab supports students pursuing the Human Factors Certificate, senior thesis projects, and those who are interested in gaining research lab experience.

Applied Cognition Lab

Our mission is to make our roads safer by reducing driver distraction, which has become an epidemic on our roadways. The laboratory at the University of Utah conducts state of the art research to better understand the impact of advanced in-vehicle technology on driver distraction. Some of the newer technologies have contributed to the problem of distracted driving, whereas other technologies are helping to solve the problem. The research at the center addresses three specific goals associated with the most prominent form of wireless communication, the cellular phone. First, we conduct scientific research that documents the effects of wireless communication and related technologies on driving performance. Second, we compare and contrast the increased risk associated with using these technologies to other real-world activities. Finally, we provide a theoretical account for why these technologies disrupt driving performance. The research conducted at the center will provide essential information for the development of public policies aimed at saving lives by reducing driver distraction.

Applied Visual Attention Lab

Our research examines the consequences of attentional limitations on real-world tasks and the neural underpinnings of attention and memory. We use a mixture of methods (EEG, eye-tracking, behavioral performance) to investigate how these issues. Our research program includes studying experts, such as radiologists, in order to understand why errors are sometimes made. We are studying a variety of interventional approaches designed to reduce error rates in these sorts of applied tasks. We also study the neural mechanisms that underlie our ability to represent information using electroencephalograph (EEG). The capacity of visual attention is limited and we use a variety of methods to study the ramifications of this fact on behavior.


The objective of our lab is to examine how some children seem to thrive, while others succumb to the effects of early life stress. We study behavioral, physiological, and epigenetic factors to identify who may be particularly susceptible to the development of psychopathology. Ultimately, we expect to uncover sensitive developmental periods and individual traits that, when targeted for preventative intervention, will mitigate the negative health effects of early life stress.

ConVExA Lab

Contextually Valid Executive Assessment (ConVExA) is a model developed in our laboratory with the goal of improving our ability to use measures for executive functioning for prediction of functional outcomes. The model posits that (a) the association between Executive Functioning (EF) and functional outcomes (e.g., instrumental activities of daily living, functional independence, medication management, driving ability, etc.) is moderated by certain contextual factors (e.g., sleep, pain, stress, life complexity) and/or certain individual-difference factors (e.g., demographics, personality, IQ etc.), whereas (b) the association between certain contextual and individual-difference factors and functional outcomes is mediated by EF.

Developmental Adaptations, Stress, and Health (DASH) Collaborative

Developmental Adaptations, Stress, and Health (DASH) is a network of faculty at the University of Utah who collaborate in research and graduate training focused on understanding how childhood experiences, and particularly levels of stress and support in and around the family, get “under the skin” to effect durable changes in biological systems involved in physical and psychological development. From a developmental programming perspective, these changes are not random; instead altered biological systems function to regulate development toward strategies that are adaptive under certain conditions. That is, biological embedding of psychosocial stress and support is a central mechanism through which the developing child becomes matched to current and expected future environments. DASH faculty study developmental adaptations to stress and their consequences for health and disease. Our central goal is to map the processes and mechanisms through which childhood experiences influence adaptive and maladaptive neural, physiological, and behavioral outcomes.

Executive Lab

Executive Functioning (EF) refers to those neurocognitive abilities that allow one to plan, select, and execute actions that are purposeful and adaptive, goal-directed and future-oriented, and socially informed (Suchy, 2015, p. 10).

 The Executive Lab undertakes projects that focus on improving our theoretical and clinical understanding of the construct of EF, its assessment, and its interface with motor and affective processes. 

Fred Rhodewalt Social Psychology Winter Conference

Park City, Utah // January 5 - 7, 2017

The conference combines some very pleasurable skiing with quality talks. The typical day includes skiing or other recreation from morning until 4:00 p.m. followed by talks from 4:30 to 7:30. After the talks people usually continue their discussions by breaking into small groups for dinner and an evening of socializing. We hope to limit the conference to around 20-30 participants, of whom no more than nine would present summaries of their recent research. The program will be limited to one session each evening consisting of three talks in the three hour program. There will be three sessions. Each talk will last 30 minutes followed by up to fifteen minutes for questions and discussion. There will also be plenty of additional time to discuss the details of one's research in private with other researchers.


Our Mission: Research in the HEART Lab focuses on close relationships. We seek to understand: 1. how couples adapt to stressors. 2. how couple adaptation and relationship functioning can be improved. 3. how relationships can be leveraged to prevent health problems. Most couples face a number of chronic and acute stressors over the course of their relationships. Our work is rooted in the idea that the way a given couple adapts to the stressors that arise is influenced by the nature of the stressor (e.g., chronic, acute), vulnerability factors that partners bring to the relationship (e.g., personality characteristics or family history), and the overall quality of their relationship (Karney & Bradbury, 1995). Over time, their relationship quality will also be affected by how they adapt. Thus, distressed couples (i.e., those with clinically low levels of relationship quality) are less likely to adapt effectively to challenges and, thus, are more likely to experience additional stress; likewise, couples who do not effectively adapt to challenges are more likely to experience additional stressors and to have low levels of relationship quality.

Hidden Talents Lab

Work in the Hidden Talents Lab both challenges and complements the prevailing deficit model of social-cognitive development in harsh and unpredictable environments. This deficit model focuses on impairments in learning and behavior in children and adolescents who grow up under stressful conditions. We have argued that the deficit model captures a crucial part of reality, but is also incomplete because it critically misses how individuals developmentally form their cognitive skills and abilities to solve recurrent problems faced in their local ecologies. Further, certain responses to high-adversity contexts (e.g., steep future discounting), which are frequently conceptualized as dysfunctional, may be biologically adaptive, even if these responses are undesirable and something we would like to change. Research in the Hidden Talents Lab focuses on the enhanced social-cognitive skills and abilities that develop in high-adversity contexts and can be leveraged in education, jobs, policy, and interventions.

Jon's Dynamical Systems Lab

Our research integrates systems concepts with quantitative innovations (statistical and methodological). Systems theory is essentially the study of change or how multiple components interact to form behavior that cannot be seen in its parts, but can be studied through its patterns in time. Systems theory is inherently interdisciplinary, sharing a language with mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry and more. Thus it has its own jargon. Additionally, many of the advanced approaches that fit a systems logic are designed in fields where a widget can be studied hundreds of thousands of times. Though we sometimes collect data in this manner, it is definitely not the norm for psychology. So we are actively exploring new directions that are both systems approaches and functional within psychological confines.

Language and Memory Aging (LaMA) lab

The Language and Memory Aging (LaMA) lab is focused on understanding the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying human language and memory systems across the adult lifespan. We adopt an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach to this work. We draw on theories and methods in cognitive science, gerontology, neuroscience, linguistics, and quantitative and experimental psychology. We use a combination of techniques, including the study of human brain functioning (e.g., event-related brain potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation), eye tracking, human performance, and peripheral physiology (e.g., pupillometry, heart-rate variability).

Life-Span Development And Adaptation Lab

In the Life-Span Development Laboratory we examine how individuals across the life span together with close relationship partners adapt to their daily environments through joint cognitive, interpersonal, and emotional processes. We have found that individuals cope with daily problems frequently together, and that collaborative coping can facilitate cognitive performance, mood, and adherence to health regimens. We use a variety of methodological techniques including surveys, interviews, daily diaries, coding of interpersonal processes, and physiological measurements via both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs.

Academic Writing Made Fun

Each year in June for the past 3 years, the lab has had a writing retreat at Cindy Berg's home. Collaborators from across the country fly in (e.g., Drs. Deborah Wiebe and Debbie Palmer) for the 3-day event. Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates are organized in teams around specific writing projects. The writing retreats allow the lab to work on multiple writing projects at various phases of completion (full drafts, partial drafts, ideas in progress). Our on-call statistician, Dr. Jon Butner assists with numerous state of the art statistical projects such as mediational HLM, latent class analysis, and SEM. Evenings find us trying some gourmet cooking or taking a hike in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. Each year the lab sends out multiple papers completed or started at the writing retreat (last year we submitted one paper during the retreat). The retreat provides a high paced, intellectually stimulating, and exciting alternative to the typical lonely and solitary writing experience.


Regulating Adherence for Diabetes in Young Adulthood

Research Network on Adaptations to Childhood Stress

We seek to develop a research network that investigates the attention, learning, memory, problem-solving, and decision-making strategies that are promoted by growing up under stressful childhood conditions, focusing on skills and abilities that can benefit at-risk youth.

Risk to Resilience Lab

Our research focuses on the family processes that contribute to the development of/for protection against psychopathology. Dr. Kerig has long-standing interests in understanding and ameliorating the effects of interparental conflict, family violence, maltreatment, and parent-child discord. We are interested in the ways in which risk factors affect relationships among families members, such as in the study of parent-child boundary dissolution, as well as implications of these family processes for youths' own intimate relationships, such as in the study of dating violence. Studies going on in our lab at present focus on understanding the relationship between trauma and juvenile delinquency; investigating risk and protective processes for maltreated children; and studying the intersections among family dynamics, personality, and dating relationships in adolescence and emerging adulthood. We also have an abiding interest in the study of resilience--uncovering the protective factors that allow children to overcome the risks associated with family stress and trauma will help us to design intervention and prevention programs that are developmentally sensitive and effective in real-world settings.

Social Development Lab

The Social Development Lab is jointly supervised by Drs. Monisha Pasupathi and Cecilia Wainryb. At our lab, we study how children, adolescents, and adults of various ages make sense of their own and others' moral transgressions, interpersonal conflicts, and other self-relevant experiences. We are interested in the developmental effects of both everyday events and conflicts - for example when friends disagree about what game to play - and more large-scale, societal events and conflicts - for example, when individuals are involved in violent political happenings of their country. We are also interested in understanding how close others, in particular parents, siblings, and friends, either support or hinder individuals' attempts to make sense of and integrate social and self-relevant experiences within their sense of self. We employ both developmental (e.g., narratives, structured interviews, and observations) and experimental designs, with an emphasis on quantitative approaches.

Spatial Cognition And Navigation Project

Spatial Transformations Experiment

Use of Spatial Transformations and Reference Frames is an experiment being conducted in the Visual Perception and Spatial Cognition laboratory at the University of Utah.

Statistical Consulting

Welcome to the statistical consulting page. This page has information about scheduled and walk-in consultations, on-line statistical resources, and frequently asked questions. Please let us know if you were hoping to find something that wasn't available on this page, and we'll do our best to add it or to help you find another source for that information. The Psychology Department's statistical consulting program is intended for graduate students, post doctoral fellows, and faculty in the Psychology Department. We are not generally able to provide consultation for students and faculty from outside of the department; however, those decisions are made on a case by case basis Undergraduate students, please note that the Psychology Department's statistical consulting service cannot be used to get help with course work or to provide tutoring. Statistical tutoring can be arranged through the ASUU Tutoring Center ( The Marriott Library also offers assistance getting started with different statistics programs (Stata, SPSS, SAS). Their statistics graduate TA is available in Marriott Library 2110S on Monday 9 - 11:30 am, Tuesday 8:30 am - 11:30 am, Thursday noon - 4 pm, Friday 8:30 - 11:30 am, or by appointment (email:

Systems 'N Coffee

Systems 'n Coffee is a bimonthly reading group committed to interdisciplinary research using Dynamical Systems Theory. The group is designed to welcome new and more experienced folks alike based on the premise that the best way to learn and understand systems theory is through shared insight. The result of the 2014-2015 year was the One Cup-L project. Feel free to see what we learned and utilize the code we generated!! To join, send Brian Baucom an email to join the list serve.

Type 1 Diabetes ADAPT Project

The goal of the project is to understand how children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes and their mothers manage diabetes. Adolescence is a problematic time for managing diabetes as the child may be trying to assert her independence, which may lead parents to be less involved in diabetes management. The study explores whether age differences in parental involvement in diabetes management relate to the child's autonomy development, and are reflected in the interdependence of mothers and adolescents in coping with the stressors related to diabetes. This project is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). A 5-year longitudinal study was completed in 2010 and data analyses are continuing.

Treatment Mechanisms, Community Empowerment, & Technology Innovations Lab

This lab has three overarching aims and interests, which are: (1) to build a better understanding of the mechanisms that maintain and underlie meaningful change in fear- and stress-based symptoms (e.g., anxiety, OCD and PTSD); (2) to improve outcomes that matter to a wider diversity of individuals so that we empower our communities and reduce ongoing health disparities; and (3) to harness technological and other innovations in order to broaden the access and scope of evidence-based interventions locally and globally.

University Of Utah Usability Lab

The University of Utah Usability Lab (U3LAB) is focused on improving the user experience (UX) of websites, software, applications, consumer products, and medical devices. If your product has an interface, the U3LAB can help you evaluate its effectiveness.


We are the VAAST Lab in the Psychology Department at the University of Utah. Our group examines visual perception and spatial cognition with a multidisciplinary approach involving psychology and computer science in the service of both basic and applied research goals.

Visual Perception And Spatial Cognition Lab

Last Updated: 4/4/23