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April 22, 2020

Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development Led by Prof Fisher

A group of Psychology faculty led by Professor Philip Fisher are leading a study to measure the effect of the coronavirus epidemic on young children and their families:

“There is very limited actionable science-based, data-driven information to inform federal and state policy about the best ways to manage the situation in order to buffer children from long-term toxic stress effects,” Fisher said. “The situation is extremely fluid, with new information about the state of the pandemic and local, state, and policy decisions being made on a daily basis.”

Read more about the study in the report from the first wave of data collection and in Around The O.

The research is made possible by three new grants totaling roughly $500,000 from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the JB and MK Pritzker Family Foundation and the Valhalla Charitable Foundation.

April 15, 2020

Do We Become More Selfless As We Age? Prof Mayr Weighs In

Professor and Department Head Ulrich Mayr wrote an article in The Conversation addressing the question of whether people become more prosocial with age. He writes:

Also, older participants tended to become more willing to give their money to charity or to volunteer in this experiment. And when assessing their personality characteristics through questionnaires, our group found that they exhibited traits such as agreeableness and empathy more strongly than younger participants.

These observations align with growing evidence of more altruistic acts in the elderly. For example, the share of their income that 60-year-olds give to charity is three times as much as for 25-year-olds. This is significant even though they tend to have more money in general, making it easier to part with some of it.

People who are 60 and up are about 50% more likely to volunteer. They are also nearly twice as likely to vote as those under 30.

The entire piece is in The Conversation and was also picked up by the Chicago Tribune and Mic. The article summarizes a recent review by Dr. Mayr and a collaborator, Alexandra Freund, in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

February 13, 2020

DuBrow Wins Sloan Research Fellowship

Assistant Professor Sarah DuBrow has been named a 2020 Sloan Research Fellow! The Sloan Fellowships are prestigious awards given to outstanding early-stage scholars in the natural sciences. Congratulations, Dr. DuBrow!

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation congratulates the winners of the 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships. These 126 early-career scholars represent the most promising scientific researchers working today. Their achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada. Winners receive $75,000, which may be spent over a two-year term on any expense supportive of their research.

February 5, 2020

Bala Wins Tykeson Award for Teaching Excellence

Congratulations to Professor Jagdeep Bala for winning the prestigious Tykeson Teaching Award from the College of Arts and Sciences!

Divisional Dean for the National Sciences Hal Sadofsky surprised Jag by presenting the award to Jag during her Peer Advisors class meeting. All the other CAS deans were in attendance (Ford, Blonigen, Scher, & Wonham), plus Department Head Ulrich Mayr, former Tykeson Teaching Award winner Jordan Pennefather, multiple Psychology Department faculty, some staff members, and the three advising GEs in Psych (Everett, Fridman, and Bedford-Peterson) who work with Jag. Jag’s husband, Avinash, was also able to be there for the surprise.

You can read what Dean Hal Sadofsky said about Bala’s teaching and see pictures below:

January 24, 2020

Three Developmental Faculty Featured in Oregon Quarterly

Professors Baldin, Measelle, and Pfeifer are featured in the latest issue of Oregon Quarterly! They discuss the science of child development and ways parents and society can foster healthy learning and growth. Excellent work, team!

You can read the article here.

January 13, 2020

Faculty and Alumna Win “Rising Star” Awards from the Association for Psychological Science

Congratulations to Sarah DuBrow and Kate Mills on being named “Rising Stars” by the Association for Psychological Science, the most prominent international psychology research society! The competitive award goes to outstanding early career researchers across all fields in psychology “whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.” Congratulations, Sarah and Kate!

We are very proud of alumnus Keely Muscatell (BA, 2006), who also received the prize. Muscatell since earned her doctorate at UCLA and is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Congratulations, Keely!

November 10, 2019

Prof Freyd’s DARVO Concept Featured on South Park

DARVO on South Park

DARVO on South Park

Professor Jennifer Freyd’s concept of “Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender”, or DARVO, in a perpetrator’s response to accusation was featured in a recent episode of the Comedy Central show South Park. Now that’s what we call effective Science Communication! Congrats, Professor Freyd, on your conceptualization reaching the mainstream!

November 1, 2019

New Research on The Wisdom of Randomness

Congratulations to grad Atsushi Kikumoto and Department Head Ulrich Mayr on the publication of “Balancing model-based and memory-free action selection under competitive pressure” in eLife! They show how people make rule-based choices after they win but strategically shift to a random strategy following losses. Ready more here and below!

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the saying goes. And studies show that in many situations, we do have a tendency to repeat whatever we did last time, particularly if it led to success. But while this is an efficient way to decide what to do, it is not always the best strategy. In many competitive situations – from tennis matches to penalty shoot-outs – there are advantages to being unpredictable. You are more likely to win if your opponent cannot guess your next move.

Based on this logic, Kikumoto and Mayr predicted that in competitive situations, people will toggle between two different decision-making strategies. When they are winning, they will choose their next move based on their beliefs about their opponent’s strategy. After all, if your opponent in a tennis match has failed to return your last three backhands, it is probably worth trying a fourth. But if an action no longer leads to success, people will switch tactics. Rather than deciding what to do based on their opponent’s strategy and recent behavior, they will instead select their next move more at random. If your tennis opponent suddenly starts returning your backhands, trying any other shot will probably produce better results.

To test this prediction, Kikumoto and Mayr asked healthy volunteers to play a game against real or computer opponents. The game was based on the ‘matching pennies’ game, in which each player has to choose between two responses. If both players choose the same response, player 1 wins. If each player chooses a different response, player 2 wins. Some of the opponents used response strategies that were easy to figure out; others were less predictable. The results showed that after wins, the volunteers’ next moves reflected their beliefs about their opponent’s strategy. But after losses, the volunteers’ next moves were based less on previous behaviors, and were instead more random. These differences could even be seen in the volunteers’ brainwaves after win and loss trials.

September 10, 2019

Introducing Ksana Health, Prof Allen’s Digital Mental Health Company

Congratulations to Professor Nicholas Allen on the launch and funding of his digital mental health company, Ksana Health. The company grew out of Allen’s research on mental health and suicide prevention. Read more here.

Co-founded by Allen and Will Shortt, a software business leader and startup CEO, Ksana Health was recently launched with a mission to improve mental health outcomes. Its aim is to bring the therapy plan out of the office and into the patient’s daily life via a personalized mental health platform.

The company is considered a spinoff because it stems directly from UO research: an evidence-based, peer-reviewed research platform developed at the Center for Digital Mental Health, where Allen serves as director.

Ksana leverages the Effortless Assessment Research System apps for iOS and Android devices, which passively pull data from a patient’s phone related to known mental health vectors — such as sleep, physical activity, social interaction and self-reporting — and securely share that objective data with a therapist. The therapist will be able to quickly view the data, discuss it in therapy and build a plan with “nudges” in the apps that will remind patients of their scheduled therapy plan throughout their week, along with their medications and appointments.

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