“If Children Won Lotteries….” Professor Lisa Kiang ‘s latest research on materialism and gratitude

by on February 6, 2017

How does materialism and gratitude affect children’s spending preferences?   Professor Kiang discussed her research on this topic in her recent blog posted on Consumerism  #Real World Research Emerald Publishing      See:  “If children won lotteries….”

One child’s response to what they would do if they won a million dollars was: “Buy a HUGE mansion…so that the homeless can live there.” 

Dr. Kiang is part of a cross-national project focusing on the development of gratitude in 7- to 14-year-olds. Their primary research questions is to find out about the relationship between materialism and gratitude in the context of children’s spending preferences.

The researchers point out that gratitude is a key aspect of character formation and that adolescents and adults who are grateful report high psychological well-being, tend to be more connected to community, and tend to be less materialistic. This project is the first to examine the development of gratitude, materialism, and the relations between them. Their stated goal is: to provide empirical evidence and materials that can be used by parents and teachers to promote children’s and adolescents’ gratitude and, in the process, develop a more psychologically healthy and environmentally sustainable view about the acquisition of material goods.

Find the article at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/YC-07-2016-00614

Read more about Dr. Kiang’s research program at:



Can we grow through adversity? Update on Pathways to Character Project

by on February 2, 2017
 The Pathways to Character Project anticipates funding $2 million in research during 2017. 
Their website is now  active…check it out!
The full text of the Funding announcement can be found on their website and on the Psychology News posting ( Jan 24th).
Project Leaders: Frank J. Infurna (Arizona State University) and Eranda Jayawickreme (Wake Forest University)
We wish  to identify the most promising research projects related to the examination of whether and how adversities, challenges or failures lead to growth in character strengths and virtues and demonstrates high quality and feasibility in being carried out. These include questions about conceptual development, appropriate research designs for assessing character growth following adversities, challenges or failures, moderating or mediating variables associated with this process, and intervention strategies. This funding competition aims to identify research projects that are in the position to begin to address the most foundational (and most “actionable”) research questions related to this topic.
We plan on focusing on the brightest young scholars who have amenable research programs to work on questions related to whether adversity, challenges or failures lead to character growth; targeting innovative groups of scholars (including interdisciplinary teams of scholars from psychology, philosophy, and theology) in the discussion of key conceptual questions on the strengthening of character through challenges and failures; and highlight and promote best research practices when studying character growth through adversity, challenge or failure. The RFP will support projects that span 2 years in duration, with the maximum allotted for total costs being $250,000 ($300,000 will be considered for multi-site projects). We anticipate supporting 10 research projects.



Senior Psychology Major Receives MLK Award , Cazandra Rebollar!

by on January 30, 2017

Cazandra Rebollar


 January 2017.  Senior psychology major, Cazandra Rebollar is one of two Wake Forest students recognized and awarded the Wake Forest 2017 MLK “Building the Dream” award at the annual banquet on January 17th celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held at Winston-Salem State University. Cazandra is a first-generation college student with a strong commitment to social justice and advocates on behalf of those who are marginalized.  She holds a leadership role in Wake Forest’s Organization of Latin American and Latino Students where she has helped planned campus-wide events with both high profile speakers and local community members. This helps give voice to the struggle faced by immigrants and undocumented students across our school and nation. Through her connections to undocumented youth, Cazandra helps facilitate a safe space for this population to share their stories and struggles. Cazandra further distinguishes herself as a volunteer at El Buen Pastor and with the University Service Corps. Wake Forest’s psychology department is proud to recognize and congratulate Cazandra Rebollar on this well-deserved and prestigious award.

The MLK “Building the Dream” award is presented to a professor or administrator and a student from both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State University who go above and beyond to demonstrate King’s qualities by promoting diversity within the community. This year, one faculty member and two students at Wake Forest were selected as winners. Nominations are accepted from the Faculty, staff and students at Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State University and winners are accepted from a committee of representatives from each school.

Student a Rose O’ Brien and assistant professor Dr. Derek Hicks were also recognized from Wake Forest. Additional winners include Winston-Salem State University student, Dishanda Brown, and two faculty members, Dawn N. Tafari and Fran Bates-Oates.

Thanks to Michelle Chan for her contribution to this post.

New Face in Psychology: Meet Professor Rauthmann

by on January 24, 2017

Professor John Rauthmann

We are pleased to welcome Professor John Rauthmann to our department!

Professor Rauthmann studied psychology at the Leopold-Franzens University of Innsbruck and then completed his PhD at the Humboldt-University of Berlin where he subsequently also served as the interim chair of personality psychology. As of January 2017, he is an assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest University where he focuses on personality psychology and assessment. He is a personality psychologist who is fascinated by differences between different persons in how they act, feel, and think as well as differences in how the same person acts, thinks, and feels across different situations or time. More specifically, his interests lie in person-situation transactions (how do persons select and shape their daily situations, and how do those situations shape personality over time?), personality change (how and to what extent can people intentionally change their personality traits?), and multi-method assessments of personality and individual differences (how can different data sources be best used to measure different traits?).

Competition for Funding: Pathways to Character

by on

Professor Eranda Jayawickreme




Request for Proposals

The Pathways to Character Project

Fellowship Announcement 


Project Leaders: Frank J. Infurna (Arizona State University) and Eranda Jayawickreme (Wake Forest University)


We welcome proposals for the “Pathways to Character” funding initiative. This $2 million Request for Proposals (RFP), supported by the John Templeton Foundation, is aimed at empirical studies designed to focus on accurately conceptualizing and prospectively assessing growth in character strengths and virtues following adversity, challenge or failure. This initiative aims to support young scholars working on the study of whether and how character growth is possible following adversity, challenge or failure. However, more senior investigators can also be included on proposals as co-investigators or in other roles. We envision applicants from personality, social, clinical, and developmental psychology in particular (but possibly other subfields as well) who are specifically interested in the psychological nature of character growth following adversity, challenge or failure. Interdisciplinary teams of psychologists working with faculty in other disciplines, especially philosophy or theology, are encouraged (but such proposals are not required).  Proposals can request up to $250,000 (or $300,000 for multi-site projects) in total costs for projects not to exceed two years in duration. We expect to make 10 awards. The deadline for letters of intent (LOIs) from applicants is April 15th 2017


Note: The website www.pathwaystocharacter.org will provide additional information about the project when it goes live in mid-January 2017.


Eranda Jayawickreme, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Wake Forest University
PO Box 7778
Winston-Salem, NC 27109

17th Annual Graduate Student and Postdoc Research Day

by on January 20, 2017

The Graduate School’s 17th Annual Graduate Student and Postdoc Research Day will be held on Friday, March 17, 2017 at The Wake Forest Biotech Place Conference Center, 575 N. Patterson Avenue.

Form of the Submission

Students and postdocs must be the primary producer of the work being presented. Posters that have already been presented at conferences are welcome. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) is a skills development activity which challenges Research Higher Degree students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.  (See the following website for additional details: http://threeminutethesis.org/).

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Students and postdocs should complete the submission form (Survey Monkey form) no later than Friday, January 27, 2017, at 5:00 pm.

Event Specifications

POSTER: The poster presentation must be in the form of a poster and no larger than 60 x 40 inches.  Easels, foam-board backing boards, and pins will be provided for setting up the posters. Both students and postdocs may participate but we only have space for 85 posters, so submit your abstract early. Please note that the posters will NOT be judged so we encourage you to take part in the raffle.

THREE MINUTE THESIS: For the 3-minute thesis presentations a single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration. (See the following website for additional rules: http://threeminutethesis.org/rules-judging-criteria)

Presentation Awards

One $400 award for first place, one $300 2nd place, one $200 3rd place, and one $200 People’s Choice award will be given for the 3MT presentations along with a raffle for an iPad Mini.

ONLY students will be able to take part in this competition for monetary awards. Due to time constraints, there will only be 10 presentations on Research Day. If we receive more than 15 submissions, we will have a preliminary round to determine the 10 finalists.

Schedule of Events

Poster set-up: 1:30 – 2:00 PM
Poster session: 2:00 – 3:00 PM (posters left up until 5:00 PM)
3MT set-up: 2:30 – 3:00 PM
3MT competition: 3:00 – 4:00 PM
Awards Announcement: 4:15 – 4:30 PM


There is ample, free parking available at the Biotech Place in Lot P8 in back of the building or in the public deck located on the corner of 4th and Church Street. The charges for public deck are currently $1 per hour per vehicle.


Please contact Tina Payne by email at tmpayne@wakehealth.edu.
For Three Minute Thesis Questions, please contact Sarah Lafferty at slaffert@wfu.edu.


Welcome back message for a new semester

by on January 10, 2017


January, 2017


Dear Psychology Students,

The Department of Psychology sends you warm wishes for a Happy New Year and looks forward to sharing a productive and creative new semester.   At this time of beginnings, we are writing to reaffirm to you our collective commitment to the University’s mission of Pro Humanitate, and to confirm our commitment for maintaining an inclusive learning environment for students of all races, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, political affiliations, religion, country of origin, and socioeconomic status. Given the tense and sometimes divisive atmosphere that too frequently characterized our communities during the closing months of 2016, we hope that 2017 will bring more constructive interactions within our communities, accompanied by open discussions on challenging issues facing the field of psychology and society more broadly.  We encourage you to come to us with any issues that negatively impact the development of an inclusive learning environment, as well as suggestions for how we can work together to accomplish these goals.

— Psychology Faculty and Staff


Professor Kiang’s Article Featured in AAJP

by on December 9, 2016



December, 2016.  Professor Lisa Kiang’s article titled, “Annual Review of Asian American Psychology, 2015,has been selected as the Feature Article of the December 2016 issue of Asian American Journal of Psychology.  AAJP is  the official publication of the Asian American Psychological Association and is dedicated to research, practice, advocacy, education, and policy within Asian American psychology. Professor Kiang and her colleagues accomplished the challenging task of reviewing literally hundreds of articles published on Asian Americans during 2015. Her work was  made even more challenging by the fact that she was teaching in Vienna during this time.  She relied on technology to communicate with her coding team and colleagues. Dr. Kiang commented to AAJP that ” I have sort of a love-hate relationship with technology, and my emotions certainly fluctuated to the extremes while collaborating on this paper.”  She discusses this and more detailed teaching escapades in Vienna at:  http://www.s-r-a.org/announcements/blog/2016-05-17-teaching-semester-vienna-connecting-cultural-experiences-class-concept.

Her review article  focused on 332 papers published in 2015 meeting the inclusion criteria of study topic, methodology, participant characteristics (ethnicity) and age range. In addition to presenting a summary of this research, Kiang et al., presented a more detailed synthesis and evaluation of the work in terms of the distinctive status of Asian Americans as members of cultural, immigrant, and minority groups. Read more about it at: https://aapaonline.org/2016/11/04/aajp-vol-7-no-4/

Citation:   Kiang, L., Cheah, C. L., Huynh, V. W., Wang, Y., & Yoshikawa, H. (2016). Annual Review of Asian American psychology, 2015. Asian American Journal Of Psychology, 7(4), 219-255.

Professor Kiang earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Denver and received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Her primary research interests are in the intersections of self and identity, family and social relationships, and culture, with a focus on adolescents from immigrant and ethnic minority backgrounds.  Major themes include relational or contextual influences on identity formation, and culturally protective factors in promoting development and well-being.


Professor Best’s advice on parenting: Explaining Trump and Santa Claus

by on December 7, 2016



November and December, 2016.  As an expert in child development, Professor Deborah Best  is often asked by the media to comment on topics related to children and families. In the last couple of weeks, requests have centered on how to talk to children about the two men who are currently the subject of much conversation and controversy:  President-elect Donald Trump and Santa Claus.  It’s clear why there may be a lot of conversation about these two….and why there is controversy about the election…..but what’s so controversial about Santa Claus?

Santa. It turns out that a paper entitled “A wonderful lie” was recently published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry suggesting that children’s trust in their parents (SPOILER ALERT:  IF YOU’RE UNDER 10 years old…stop reading now) is undermined by the myth of Santa.  In this paper, Christopher Boyle, an author of the paper and professor at University of Exeter suggests that the “morality of making children believe in such myths has to be questioned.”     CBS News gathered some expert opinions on this question, including the opinion of Dr. Best    CBS News What parents should tell

Dr. Best notes that belief in magic and make-believe is an important part of young children’s lives and that it can play an important role in development.  She acknowledges that there may be some effects when a child learns the reality of SC, but that this is more likely to be a sense of disappointment rather than anger, as was suggested by the Lancet paper.  However, she did agree with the authors of the paper on one point:  Using Santa as a threat to control behavior is bad parent parenting!


Trump. A few weeks earlier, Dr. Best was among a number of psychologists who were asked to comment to the The Huffington Post on how parents should discuss issues made salient by the presidential election. Given her expertise in the development of gender stereotypes in young children, Professor Best discussed the importance of teaching kids about diversity. She made mention of the famous blue eyes-brown eyes classroom study and made the point that it’s important to address issues of bigotry and racism early. She also discussed the importance of  maintaining a zero-tolerance rule on bullying and being a good role model for our children.  Advice to parents




Former MA student Erika Carlson receives 2017 Sage Young Scholar Award

by on November 28, 2016
Erika Carlson

Erika Carlson

November 27. The Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology http://www.foundationpsp.org/ recently announced that  Erika Carlson, Ph, D. is among the recipients of the 2017 Sage Young Scholar Award. Sponsored by Sage Publications, these highly competitive awards acknowledge the outstanding contributions of talented young scholars in personality and social psychology.  Erika Carlson graduated from WFU with her MA degree in 2008 and went on to Washington University – St. Louis where she received her Ph.D.. specializing in personality and social psychology. She is now an assistant professor at University of Toronto.  Her research focuses on Self-Knowledge and Interpersonal Perception (SKIP) http://skiplab.org/      Along with the other recipients listed below,  Professor Carlson  will be honored at the awards ceremony at SPSP in San Antonio. http://meeting.spsp.org/ 

The  award recipients are:

  • Erika Carlson, University of Toronto
  • Mina Cikara, Harvard University
  • Jesse Graham, University of Southern California
  • Kurt Gray, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Andrew Todd, University of Iowa
  • Liane Young, Boston College
  • Jamil Zaki, Stanford University