Program News and Awards

New Study: Mental Health Interventions Need Cultural, Racial, Social Disparities Awareness

Mental health has been a national concern for many Americans during COVID-19, but little research has been done to determine what factors have influenced mental health and how they compare across countries. New research from Michigan State University sampled five countries— the United States, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and India—and looked at what factors affected suicidal ideation risk during COVID-19 lockdown. 

The researchers found drug use, racial and ethnic identity, and gender identity increased the likelihood of suicidal ideation during COVID-19 lockdown—but not to the same degree in all countries. 

“There’s a substantial need for multicomponent mental health interventions that are not only culturally responsive but are also inclusive of substance use prevention and treatment as core intervention features,” said Kaston D. Anderson-Carpenter, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor in MSU’s psychology department and co-author of the study. “To provide culturally responsive care, we need to think about people’s cultural backgrounds—especially when it comes to preventing suicides.” 

Read more here.

New Study: Personality Influenced College Students' Romantic Relationships During the Pandemic

Though the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many people's social lives, new research from Michigan State University outlines some personality-related factors that may have contributed to students either continuing to form new relationships or avoiding them. The new study by MSU researchers found that one in five college students started a new romantic relationship during the pandemic.

"Data and other news reports suggest that there was significant movement and socializing with others during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, even during the most stringent lockdown orders," said William Chopik, associate professor in MSU's psychology department and lead author of the study.

Read more here.

Meet a Psychology Spartan: Edward Witt

Edward Witt earned a Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology in 2011 after having been an undergraduate psychology student at Michigan State University. During his time at MSU, Edward worked in many different areas, but his main interest was in psychometrics and the measurement of maladaptive personality traits. Now as a manager on the Health Analytics, Research, and Reporting team for Walgreens, Edward can see how beneficial his time at MSU really was.

Read the Q&A with Edward here.

Study: Asexual relationships need same ingredients as any other relatioship

Many asexual individuals, those with little to no sexual attraction, are in long-term satisfying romantic relationships, but there has been little study on how and why they last and thrive. New research from Michigan State University found that, despite asexuals’ lack of or dislike for sexual attraction, the ingredients that make for a successful relationship among asexual individuals are virtually the same as those in any other relationship.

“Although asexuals don’t have the desire for sexual relationships, they nevertheless form romantic relationships and those connections look at least somewhat similar to non-asexuals’ romantic relationships,” said William Chopik, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department and coauthor of the study.

Read more about this study here.

A new season of Minority Politics Online Seminar Series (MPOSS) kicks off on September 27th with a talk by Justin Zimmerman on “Race, Class, and Distrust.” This series, hosted by Drs. Ana Bracic and Nazita Lajevardi from the Department of Political Science, and Dr. Mark J. Brandt from the Department of Psychology, uniquely focuses on how politics affect and is affected by marginalized people who have less power and are often excluded from the system.  

“Politics is complex. To understand it, we need to look at it from multiple perspectives,” said Dr. Brandt. “MPOSS is the place where that can happen.”

Read more about the Minority Politics Online Seminar Series here. 

Meet a Psychology Spartan: Andrew Defever

Andrew Defever earned a Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology in 2018. As a student, Andrew realized that he wanted to work in industry rather than academia, so he began to figure out where he might fit best. Now as a senior manager in the research science division at J.D. Power, Andrew applies the data, research, and mentorship skills he learned while at MSU.

Read the Q&A with Andrew here.

Study: Neighborhoods aren’t made for childfree people

Over the last few years, the pandemic has forced most of us to stay home in our own neighborhoods. New research from Michigan State University found that for some groups of people, spending time in their neighborhoods is no block party. 

 “We found that single parents are much less satisfied with their neighborhoods than married parents, and childfree people who don’t want children aren’t much better off,” said Zachary Neal, associate professor in MSU’s psychology department and co-author of the study.

 The study — published in PLOS ONE — is among the first to break down neighborhood satisfaction by specific types of households, including single parents, empty nesters, and childfree adults. The researchers used data from a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Michigan who completed MSU’s State of the State Survey. Although most neighborhood studies compare parents to non-parents, Neal explained that this misses the important differences.

Read more about this study here.

Dr. Deborah Kashy was awarded the Methodological Innovator Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

"The Methodological Innovator Award is a senior career award that recognizes an individual who has made a significant or sustained contribution to innovative methods in social and personality psychology across his or her career. The award recognizes contributions that are especially likely to generate the discovery of new hypotheses, new phenomena, or new ways of thinking about the discipline of social/personality psychology."

Read more about this award here


Dr. Mark Brandt was awarded the Jim Sidanius Early Career Award from the International Society of Political Psychology.

The International Society of Political Psychology said the following about Dr. Brandt: "Dr. Mark Brandt has been an amazingly productive scholar in the eight years since earning his Ph.D. His work is methodologically flexible and adept and he is intellectually curious and productive, becoming a top political psychologist of his generation. His work has been consequential and is highly cited, and his interests and contributions have been broad and theoretically important. Dr. Brandt's most recent work on belief system networks tries to change how we study belief systems by focusing on the idea that belief systems are interconnections of attitudes and identities that can be modeled (e.g., with network analyses). His initial work on this idea has shown that political identities are central to belief systems, that belief systems can be replicable, and that conservatives' moral belief systems are more tightly integrated than liberals' moral belief systems." 

Read more about Mark's work and the Jim Sidanius Early Career Award here.