All Publications

  • Emotional responses to a global stressor: Average patterns and individual differences. European journal of personality Willroth, E. C., Smith, A. M., Graham, E. K., Mroczek, D. K., Shallcross, A. J., Ford, B. Q. 2023; 37 (4): 418-434


    Major stressors often challenge emotional well-being-increasing negative emotions and decreasing positive emotions. But how long do these emotional hits last? Prior theory and research contain conflicting views. Some research suggests that most individuals' emotional well-being will return to, or even surpass, baseline levels relatively quickly. Others have challenged this view, arguing that this type of resilient response is uncommon. The present research provides a strong test of resilience theory by examining emotional trajectories over the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In two pre-registered longitudinal studies (total N =1147), we examined average emotional trajectories and predictors of individual differences in emotional trajectories across 13 waves of data from February through September 2020. The pandemic had immediate detrimental effects on average emotional well-being. Across the next 6 months, average negative emotions returned to baseline levels with the greatest improvements occurring almost immediately. Yet, positive emotions remained depleted relative to baseline levels, illustrating the limits of typical resilience. Individuals differed substantially around these average emotional trajectories and these individual differences were predicted by socio-demographic characteristics and stressor exposure. We discuss theoretical implications of these findings that we hope will contribute to more nuanced approaches to studying, understanding, and improving emotional well-being following major stressors.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/08902070221094448

    View details for PubMedID 38603127

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9111916

  • The interpersonal correlates of believing emotions are controllable MOTIVATION AND EMOTION Smith, A. M., Young, G., Ford, B. Q. 2023
  • Negative Affect, Affect Regulation, and Food Choice: A Value-Based Decision-Making Analysis SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PERSONALITY SCIENCE O'Leary, D., Smith, A., Salehi, E., Gross, J. J. 2022
  • Emotional responses to a global stressor: Average patterns and individual differences EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY Willroth, E. C., Smith, A. M., Graham, E. K., Mroczek, D. K., Shallcross, A. J., Ford, B. Q. 2022
  • Coping With Health Threats: The Costs and Benefits of Managing Emotions PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Smith, A. M., Willroth, E. C., Gatchpazian, A., Shallcross, A. J., Feinberg, M., Ford, B. Q. 2021; 32 (7): 1011-1023


    How people respond to health threats can influence their own health and, when people are facing communal risks, even their community's health. We propose that people commonly respond to health threats by managing their emotions with cognitive strategies such as reappraisal, which can reduce fear and protect mental health. However, because fear can also motivate health behaviors, reducing fear may also jeopardize health behaviors. In two diverse U.S. samples (N = 1,241) tracked across 3 months, sequential and cross-lagged panel mediation models indicated that reappraisal predicted lower fear about an ongoing health threat (COVID-19) and, in turn, better mental health but fewer recommended physical health behaviors. This trade-off was not inevitable, however: The use of reappraisal to increase socially oriented positive emotions predicted better mental health without jeopardizing physical health behaviors. Examining the costs and benefits of how people cope with health threats is essential for promoting better health outcomes for individuals and communities.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/09567976211024260

    View details for Web of Science ID 000674043200004

    View details for PubMedID 34143697

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8641141

  • The Health Behavior Model of Personality in the Context of a Public Health Crisis PSYCHOSOMATIC MEDICINE Willroth, E. C., Smith, A. M., Shallcross, A. J., Graham, E. K., Mroczek, D. K., Ford, B. Q. 2021; 83 (4): 363-367


    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended behavioral measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing and wearing masks. Although many individuals comply with these recommendations, compliance has been far from universal. Identifying predictors of compliance is crucial for improving health behavior messaging and thereby reducing disease spread and fatalities.We report preregistered analyses from a longitudinal study that investigated personality predictors of compliance with behavioral recommendations in diverse US adults across five waves from March to August 2020 (n = 596) and cross-sectionally in August 2020 (n = 405).Agreeableness-characterized by compassion-was the most consistent predictor of compliance, above and beyond other traits, and sociodemographic predictors (sample A, β = 0.25; sample B, β = 0.12). The effect of agreeableness was robust across two diverse samples and sensitivity analyses. In addition, openness, conscientiousness, and extraversion were also associated with greater compliance, but effects were less consistent across sensitivity analyses and were smaller in sample A.Individuals who are less agreeable are at higher risk for noncompliance with behavioral mandates, suggesting that health messaging can be meaningfully improved with approaches that address these individuals in particular. These findings highlight the strong theoretical and practical utility of testing long-standing psychological theories during real-world crises.

    View details for DOI 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000937

    View details for Web of Science ID 000648338900009

    View details for PubMedID 33790198

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9011405