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*denotes student trainee
Our research program: Perspectives on the motivated naure of empathy and prosocial behavior are key to understanding the role of focused attention in prosocial responsiveness. Others' suffering is often painful to observe or may lead to cognitive, affective, or social costs for the self. So people downregulate their empathic reponses to others, for example, by diverting their attention away from empathy inducing stimuli or situations. Within this line of inquiry our lab addresses three research questions.
What is the role of focused attention in prosocial cognition and behavior? Our lab has several ongoing projects to address this question. (1) We are examining how empathy unfolds during the course of a social interaction through the lens of event-related potentials (an EEG marker). Research assistants who are interested in this project will receive training in establishing and monitoring high quality EEG recording, deliver and design experimental protocols, and design computer software paradigms to elicit brain responses. (2) Our lab is interested in individual differences in life experiences with suffering and how this relates to upregulation or downregulation of empathy. (3) We also conduct several experiments on self-regulation technique in focused attention called mindfulness meditation. These latter two research questions are addressed via experiments conducted remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and research assistants will receive training in delivery and design of experimental protocols and recruiting participants.
Research assistants and graduate students are included at all stages of the research process. Dr. Berry encourages graduate students and research assistants to form their own programmatic interests. Research questions on social cognitive and affective neuroscience, prosocial emotion and behaviors, mindfulness training and other forms of deliberate attention, intergroup processes, and meta-science are all encouraged!
The SAP Lab is fortunate to have a dedicated, hard-working research team, and we are looking to expand! Scroll down for more details on applying to the lab, but first read about our team.
***Dr. Berry is starting a new position at Radford University and is no longer inviting students to the SAP lab at CSUSM***
Graduate Students: Dr. Berry generally accepts one or two graduate students each academic year. However, he does not plan to interview graduate students for Fall 2023 entry into the MA program in Psychololgical Science. Qualities of a successful student include a commitment to conducting careful research on one or more of the following topics: mindfulness, empathy, compassion, prosociality, intergroup relations, social neuroscience, social threat. Background in EEG/ERP and Matlab (or other programming language) is a plus! Prospective students may find this information about our graduate program helpful when applying. Please contact Dr. Berry directly (email@example.com) for more information about graduate study in the SAP Lab.
Research Assistants: The SAP Lab is committed to the education and training of undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students; we depend heavily upon your hard work to complete lab studies. Our current research is focused on the role of deliberate attention in empathy and kindness. We use a multimethod approach in the lab to research these topics including EEG, behavioral, daily diary, and subjective responses. Getting involved as a volunteer or PSYC 498/499 student is a great way to see if psychological science is the right career path for you. As part of your training, we host workshops to help you gain admission into psychology graduate programs, medical school, and other professional training programs. The SAP Lab accepts new researchers each semester and carries between 10 - 15 students in total. Each research assistant is given the opportunity to help with 1 - 2 projects a semester, and are offered a variety of tasks to choose from. Students can serve as experimenters, record and process psychophysiological (EEG) data, code and analyze data, conduct literature searches and related tasks for meta-analyses, and even design and lead their own studies.