The Heart, Mind, Spirit, and The Globe Research Institute
Lead professor: Dr. Sonia Suchday
Welcome to the Heart, Mind, Spirit, and the Globe Research Institute. My interest in research began with a fascination with how anger and hostility are closely linked to the development of heart disease. The first study I did in my lab showed how when provoked and angry, there is a physiological, affective, cognitive, and behavioral response. This early research also led to the development of a measure of the cognitive self-statements people make when angry - The Anger Cognitions Inventory. Following this early work on anger arousal, I got interested in how people reacted when they were not able to respond in a way that felt comfortable to them. In other words, if people preferred to hide or suppress their response to anger, how would they react if circumstances forced them to do the opposite of what they were comfortable doing? Data from this study showed that being forced to behave in a way that was the opposite of what you preferred led to increased arousal and distress. These data also showed that expression of anger (e.g., arguing) also led to increased distress, regardless of what the person preferred.
Following these early studies, I became intrigued by the idea that context - circumstances also have a strong influence on health. Later studies in my lab focused on the effects of differing life experiences such as immigration, low socioeconomic status, terrorist attacks, and globalization can have on health and functioning. During the course of planning my research studies, my students told me that they were tired of hearing me always talk about circumstances that may harm health and well-being such as anger and stress and poverty; they were interested in understanding what made people strong and resistant to these experiences. Thus began a series of studies in my lab on how spirituality, forgiveness, mindfulness, and practice of yoga and meditation buffer the effects of anger and stress on health and well-being.
There is a series of studies that we have conducted in India exploring the psychosocial and spiritual aspects of globalization. As the world becomes globalized, much attention has been paid to the economic and political aspects of globalization. However, economic and political aspects of life are not the only ones affected by globalization. Globalization leads to myriad changes in psychosocial and spiritual functioning. However, studies on these dimensions of globalization have lagged behind studies on the economic and political changes due to globalization. India represents a traditional culture that is rapidly changing with the advent of globalization. Young people in India are particularly grappling with adapting to cultural traditions and new opportunities.
In general, my work emphasizes the mind-body-spirit and culture connection and the impact of stress on the mental, physical, spiritual health of individuals; communities studied in the lab encompass ethnic groups including Indian, Chinese, and Latinas as they acculturate to the United States. Studies include adolescents, emerging adults, college populations, and community samples. Diverse methodology used in the lab includes experimental studies of stress reactivity, surveys, interviews, and qualitative studies on stress and its psychosocial correlates. Currently there are studies ongoing on stress and health habits amongst college students and stress experienced by Middle-Eastern and Asian immigrant women. International studies in the lab include studies in India on globalization, spirituality, stress, anger, and health among college students and middle school students.
Meetings: Thursday, 10:00 am – 12:00 p.m., 41 Park Row, Room 1313
Student requirements: Strong Interest in Research