Faculty Research Interests


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Luke Ayers 260x300

Luke W. Ayers

Chair, Psychology Department

“Mens sana in corpore sano – to have a sound mind in a sound body” 

As a behavioral neuroscientist, I try to understand the relationships between behavior, physiological processes of the body, and mental states. My work specifically focuses on the topics of fear, anxiety, stress, hunger, and habit-like behavior. I also have expertise in learning & memory, psychopharmacology, hormonal influences on behavior, addiction, and compulsive behaviors. 

I also truly value the opportunity to mentor students who are interested in research. All of my projects involve undergraduate research assistants, who gain first-hand experience in designing, implementing, and conducting empirical research experiments. 

Mike Corcoran 260x300
  • Well-being
  • Goals, goals selection, and effective goal pursuit
  • Antecedents and consequences of motivation
  • Arrogance
  • Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction
  • Psychological Health and functioning
  • Self-Determination Theory
  • Research methodology 
Maureen A. Coyle 260x300

Broadly, my research focuses on how media and technology affect interpersonal and romantic relationships. I study how computer-mediated communication affects interpersonal processes such as person perception and relationship development. I particularly focus on how ambiguity in text-based interactions disrupts intimacy and how individuals attempt to reduce that ambiguity. Many of my online and laboratory projects address how emoji use in text conversations affects impression formation and perceived partner responsiveness. I also study how being ghosted on online dating apps affects future perceptions and pursuit of potential partners.

Mariah Schug 260x300

Mariah G. Schug

Director, Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies

 My research explores how culture and the environment influence cognition. Much of my work looks at how intergroup attitudes emerge in different contexts. For example, I’ve looked at the development of bias in childhood in the U.S. and the Faroe Islands. I’ve also studied Faroese attitudes about diversity (e.g., immigration, LGBTQ+ rights). My more recent studies consider how childhood experiences that promote exploration and interactions with nature, may lead to improvements in spatial skills and attention. Finally, I’m working with colleagues at Widener on a project assessing how infant feeding practices (e.g., bottle feeding) can influence familial relationships and well-being.

Lori Simons

Lori Simons

Practicum and Internship Coordinator of Psychology Department

As an educational psychologist, I believe that research is an integral part of the study of teaching and learning. Research is meaningful when it is used to improve teaching strategies and student learning. My research approach is rooted in a continual assessment of student learning using a feedback loop for ongoing improvement. I use quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods are used to measure changes in student learning from the beginning to the end of the course while qualitative methods are used to detect information about the learning process that occurs in the course and service context. Qualitative data are used to refine, explain, and extend quantitative findings. The use of this mixed-method approach contributes to a deeper, more complete understanding of student development and learning.

My research agenda is divided into two broad areas: pedagogical scholarship and program evaluation. In the area of pedagogical scholarship, my work has focused on the impact of academic- and cultural-based service-learning on student learning and to evaluate the contributions that student service activities make in the community. I also include community partners in the development and implementation phases of assessment. In this context research serves a dual purpose. It enhances the educational experiences of students and enriches students' contributions to the community. Assessment efforts are used to refine pedagogical methods and to most effectively tailor teaching practices to both students' and partners' needs.

In the area of program evaluation, I have worked with organizations and programs to evaluate the effectiveness of community interventions and make recommendations for improvement. In a recent study, I assessed addiction professionals' views in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Certification Board. I devote my research efforts on projects that have value for undergraduate students and community partners. My recent work with community partners, as well as my scholarship on service-learning cultivates a climate of student engagement in research among students who collaborate with me on research. This is particularly important to me because it provides students with an opportunity to put their knowledge of psychological research into practice and strengthens the university-community partnership.

Ross B. Steinman

Can we predict to what extent consumers sanction brands for their transgressions? There are many factors that mediate the consumer-brand relationship before, during, and after a brand's transgression. A brand transgression is defined as a violation of consumer-brand relationship norms. This breach of trust can have serious implications for a brand.

In my research, I examine the effect of variables such as brand personality, product category, ethnocentrism, and brand-country associations on consumer response to a brand transgression. I also conduct research on automatic consumer behavior. I use implicit and indirect consumer attitude instruments to measure attitudes outside of conscious awareness. In this secondary research area, I examine the automatic components of brand relationship, brand identification, cultural identity, and consumer decision making.

Sylvia Wang

I have two general, but complementary, lines of research interest. My primary interest falls within mental health disparities, while my secondary interest lies in subjective well-being research. Within mental health disparities, I examine the measurement equivalence of commonly used psychological measures. I am also passionate about examining variations in prevalence rates of mental health conditions and social determinants of health among different racial/ethnic groups. Specifically, I am interested in how socioeconomic status, gender, geographic location, language, immigrant status, and culture impact behaviors and well-being across racial/ethnic groups. Within subjective well-being research, I am curious about what factors influence people’s happiness, resilience, meaning of life, and quality of life.