Highlights: Faculty Invited Presentations

by on November 17, 2016



November, 2016  Professor Lara Kammrath presents social support research at  Harvard symposium:

“Ego Networks in the Era of Network Science”


The purpose of the conference was to bring together researchers who study ego networks, which are the personal social networks of individuals. The speakers discussed a wide range of network types, including social support networks, dating networks, job networks, and more. Professor Kammrath presented her work on social support seeking in college and community populations, in which she found that when it comes to choosing a person to approach for support, individuals focus on ease of accessibility more than interpersonal closeness.



copy-of-best1_1024Summer,  2016.   Professor Deborah Best  invited to present in symposia  in Japan and Lithuania


Best, D.L., & Bush, C.D. (2016, July). Cultural influences on the development of preschoolers’ emotional competence. Paper presented in Symposium, Children’s Social Skills in Different Social  Contexts, Tiia  Tulviste (Convenor). Symposium at the meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural  Development, Vilnius, Lithuania.


Best, D.L. (2016, July). Discussant. In Symposium, Social skills in different peer interaction contexts, TiiaTulviste (Convenor). Symposium at the meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Vilnius, Lithuania.


Bush, C.D., Morley, K. & Best, D.L. (2016, July). Preschoolers’ emotional competence and empathy:
evaluation and intervention. Paper presented in the Symposium, SCCR Presents at IACCP: Culture,
Interventions, and Change. Brien Ashdown (Convenor). Symposium at the meeting of the International
Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. Nagoya, Japan.


Research has shown that emotional competence and empathy are important facets of children’s socio-emotional development.  In two studies, preschoolers’ emotional competence and the effectiveness of a role-play intervention on empathy were explored.  In the first study ethnic, socio-economic, and gender differences were found. The second study found that a role-play intervention was effective for improving empathy in preschoolers.  These studies suggest that it is beneficial to talk with children about emotions at an early age so they learn what is appropriate in their social environments.


Summer, 2016.  Professors Fleeson & Jayawickreme present Whole Trait Theory in Keynote Addresses


Professor Will Fleeson


Image result for Eranda Jayawickreme & Will Fleeson pics

Fleeson, W., Jayawickreme, E. (May, 2016). Whole trait theory: A model of virtues that integrates self and motivation within traits. Keynote address at the 2016 Self, Motivation, and Virtue Conference, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN.


In this talk we present Whole Trait Theory, which offers a detailed model of traits that, inter alia, provides an optimistic view on the existence of broad, robust traits. Whole Theory does not conceive of traits as essential, permanent, and unwavering. It considers self-concepts, scripts, schemas, narratives, goals, motives, and other similar constructs as drivers of traits.


Fleeson, W. (July, 2016). Whole trait theory: How personality changes across hours, and brings symptoms along with it. Keynote address at the 2016 International Society for Schema Therapy Conference, Vienna, Austria.


“Can we change who we are or are we prisoners of our personality?” This question makes most sense if personality traits are conceived of as essential, permanent, and unwavering. But, are they? How do social-cognitive models of personality fit in? How do scripts, schemas, narratives, goals, motives, and other similar construct relate to traits? Moreover, given that personality change does in fact occur, individuals may be able to have an influence on how they change. In that case, how do traits work?



Edward R. Hirt, Ph.D. presents on Replenishing Depleted Resources

by on November 15, 2016


John Petrocelli, Ed Hirt, Cathy Seta

John Petrocelli, Ed Hirt, Cathy Seta



Nov 9, 2016.  Professor Edward R. Hirt’s presentation on Counteracting Depletion: Adventures in resource replenishing  was an especially appropriate colloquium topic for the day following a late night of presidential election coverage!  Professor  Hirt, from the  Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, presented his research on the potentially restorative effects of expectations and beliefs on mental fatigue. Across an impressive number of high caliber experiments, Professor Hirt and  his colleagues  demonstrated that expectations about the potential influence of variables, such as positive mood, on mental energy are central factors in ego-depletion and restoration. He finds that both manipulated and idiosyncratic expectancies moderate mood’s conventional influences on self-control.  Theoretically, his work  suggests that expectations of mental energy change are central in self-control and ego-depletion.

Outstanding Graduate Student Research Awards

by on November 8, 2016

Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco


November 4-5. This weekend, two former WFU graduate students – Ashley Hawkins (’12) and Kassidy Velasquez (’16) – received research awards at the 38th annual meeting of the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists held in Asheville, NC. SSSP conference

Ashley is the current research manager for the Beacon Project at WFU. Kassidy graduated from WFU last year and is now in the Ph.D. program at Florida State University.  Kassidy’s award was based on her MA thesis (advisor: Professor Fleeson). She conducted an ambitious meta-analysis of altruistic behavior and subjective well-being.  Ashley’s research, conducted with Professor Furr, examined how key dimensions, such as self-sacrifice and temptational purity, affect perceptions of actors’ morality and whether morally exceptional versus typical perceivers differ in these judgments.  Congratulations!

Founded in 1978 by a group of social psychologists at the University of Georgia, the Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists (SSSP) has a membership of over 400 students, faculty, and professional psychologists throughout the southeastern United States. Professor Solano was instrumental in founding this conference and organized one of the first meetings of the organization. SSSP was held at WFU last year and was organized by Professors Masicampo and Waugh.



Homecoming breakfast held to thank the Gigler family

by on November 3, 2016





Saturday, Oct 29.   Homecoming weekend provided an opportunity for the Psychology Department to express our gratitude to Joe and Carol Gigler for their generosity in establishing the John R. Jombock Academic Fund in Psychology, named for Carol’s father.  Mr. and Mrs. Gigler have three children, Kati (’10); Mary (’12), and Maggie (’14) who graduated from WFU and returned to campus with their parents for Homecoming.  The Gigler family were early adopters of student-faculty engagement support and established this current use and endowed fund to support and to recognize exceptional student-faculty engagement. Professor Janine Jennings is the first award winner and attended this event, along with several other members of the psychology department (Department Chair, Professor Eric Stone and Professors Best, Jayawickreme, and Pratt).

Former Psychology MA Student receives Early Career Award in Clinical Neuropsychology

by on November 1, 2016
Ben Hill

Ben Hill

Benjamin D. Hill, Ph.D.

October,  2016. We are proud to announce that Benjamin Hill, Ph.D. recently received the National Academy of Neuropsychology (2016)  Early Career Service Award for contributions to clinical Neuropsychology.  Ben received his M.A. degree in psychology in 2003; Professor Terry Blumenthal supervised his thesis work.( For publication based on this work, see: DOI: 10.3758/BF03193529.)  Ben  went on to receive his Ph.D. in 2008, specializing in Clinical Psychology at Louisiana State University. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of South Alabama.  His research crosses the areas of clinical and neuropsychology, focusing on issues such as fluid cognition, cognitive disorders, concussions and symptom validity measurement and  his  research is published in quality journals such as the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology  and Applied Neuropsychology. At South Alabama,  Ben teaches courses in clinical neuropsychology, advanced assessment, ethics and professional practice, personality and cognitive assessment, personality, abnormal and psychometrics.





Beacon Project Receives Award

by on October 18, 2016

The WFU Office Of Research and Sponsored Programs recently recognized members of the Beacon Project Team for their $3.9 million dollar grant  from the Templeton Foundation,. The Beacon Project grant is among the largest ever received for social science research at WFU.  The ORSP award recognizes those who received funding greater than $2 million in a single grant. In an interview last fall with Cheryl Walker (see link below,) Professor Michael Furr explained:   “At the heart of this project is figuring out what makes people good,” . “What are the psychological, cultural and spiritual factors that make people morally excellent? We are hoping what we do can lay the foundation for how we can foster these attributes.”




by on October 12, 2016
The Rejecting the Null Team

The Rejecting the Null Team


Oct. 6th :  Congratulations to the psychology department’s ‘ HIt the Bricks team, appropriately named Rejecting the Null.  Hit the Bricks is an annual campus event that benefits the Brian Piccolo Cancer Drive funding cancer research at WFU Baptist Medical Center. Teams compete to complete the most laps around Hearn Plaza, while games, food, and live music go on in the quad.  Rejecting the Null finished 4th out of a field of more than 10 graduate teams but, more importantly, contributed to this worthwhile cause.   Read more about this event at: http://wfuhitthebricks.com/about/index?method=index


The Morally Exceptional: Project Workshops

by on September 28, 2016

A two day workshop was held July 14-17, 2016 at the Graylyn International Conference Center in Winston-Salem, NC. The workshop occurred shortly after the Morally Exceptional RFP (Request for Proposal) Funding Competition winners were announced and was designed to provide interdisciplinary feedback to each winner. The conference consisted of three simultaneous tracks of interdisciplinary workshops: Psychology, Theology and Philosophy. The winners interacted in small groups, presenting their planned project and then receiving interdisciplinary feedback about the direction of the project.


The Beacon Project is a three-year initiative funded by a $3.9 million grant from the Templeton Religon Trust Foundation to find and define the morally exceptional and better understand how to improve moral character. Professor of Psychology William Fleeson heads the project team including Michael Furr, professor of psychology, Eranda Jayawickreme, assistant professor of psychology, Christian B. Miller, professor of philosophy and Angela Knobel, associate professor of philosophy at Catholic University of America.

The purpose of the workshop was threefold:

(1) provide rich feedback to the Principal Investigators (PI) before beginning their projects;

(2) infuse interdisciplinary concerns into all projects; and

(3) create a professional network of scholars working on the morally exceptional who would interact with each other in the coming years.

From the Beacon Team – More information on the RFP:

Wake Forest University, with the help of a generous grant from The Templeton Religion Trust, welcomed proposals for three funding initiatives in the fields of Psychology, Philosophy and Theology. We aim to support young scholars working on the study of moral exceptionality, who often have new and interesting ideas but who have not yet benefitted from traditional funding sources. We believe the field is in a state of readiness for a study of the morally exceptional, but what is needed is a significant infusion of resourced scholars, networked in a carefully managed way, to transform readiness into reality.

Engaging Young Adults in Politics

by on February 10, 2016

Dr. Christy Buchanan has co-authored a study with professor emerita of communication Jill McMillan, professor of politics and international affairs Katy Harriger, and psychology graduate student Stephanie Gusler.

See the full news story here. http://news.wfu.edu/2016/01/26/new-study-engaging-young-adults-in-politics/#.VqjFItOtI6Q.email

#WhereisRey? The psychology behind gendered toys – Dr. Best Featured in NPR Interview

by on January 13, 2016

Listen to the full Take Two interview here: