Research Projects

Anxiety Projects

A Dimensional Examination of Social Anxiety

This study will aim to examine social anxiety from a dimensional perspective. The objective of this study is to further elucidate the complexities of social anxiety and to determine whether more can be learned about it through using a dimensional lens. The researcher will be exploring the unique predictors of changes in socially anxious responses. Participants will complete self-report measures and a behavioral. The researcher will be recruiting both socially anxious and non-anxious participants for this project. Individuals will receive either monetary or research credit compensation for participation in this project.  

Social Anxiety and Social Media

There is recent evidence that social media usage is associated with elevated social anxiety and that such usage is problematic among socially anxious individuals. The current study seeks to evaluate the level of anxiety and avoidance behavior generated from face-to-face interactions compared to that generated by interactions via social media. If you would like more information or to participate, contact Nicolette Carnahan at nc9999a@american.edu. 

Culture and Anxiety

Racial Differences in Trichotillomania

This project examines race as a predictor of perceived distress and impairment in black and white female undergraduate students who pull their body hair unrelated to grooming, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differ. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. This project assesses the mediating and moderating effects of ethnic identity and resilience. 

Implicit Association Task and Perception of Homosexuality: Differences Between African American and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Homosexual Males

Minority Stress Theory (MST) is one of the leading theories addressing the impact of racial, sexual and gender minorities on psychological and physical health. This theory postulates that gender minority stress represents a specific psychological stress derived from being a racial and sexual minority and experiencing negative life events. While there is evidence that homosexuality and racial ethnicity represent stressors associated with psychological and physical distress, there have been few attempts to address the interaction between the two. In this study we extend the extant literature by examining the association between among ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We specifically evaluate the perception of homosexual males by homosexual males through use of an Implicit Association Task (IAT). We examine whether African American homosexual men would exhibit higher internalized homophobia and perceived racial and sexual stigma, producing higher levels of psychological distress than non-Hispanic Caucasian homosexual men. We test for the hypothesis that African American males could have a less positive perception of homosexual males as measured by the IAT regardless of the ethnicity of the image compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian males. 

Colorism in the Perception of Personal Attributes: 

The concept of colorism refers to the discrimination one experiences or perceives as a result of their skin color. While there is evidence that colorism is still an issue for African Americans, there are several issues that have remained unaddressed. This project examines the perception of skin color in relationship to social and \'dpsychological outcomes, whether colorism is associated with psychological wellbeing (e.g., positive and negative affect, generic wellbeing, depression), and whether \'dspecific aspects of colorism are more or less salient than others. The possible influence of social desirability will be addressed by utilizing an implicit measure of color preference. The study will also examine ethnic identity as a potential moderator to the expected results. For more information on how to participate, please contact Candace Koman at ca1967a@american.edu.

Therapy-seeking Attitudes and Racial Preferences for Therapists: Differences Between African Americans and Caucasian Americans


Stigma has been a widely researched construct in terms of how it may influence therapy seeking among African Americans and Caucasian Americans, but data from numerous studies still have yet to conclude for which populations stigma effects the most. Additionally, attitudes toward racial matching between client and therapist has not received much attention within the last decade. The current study seeks to better understand how African American and Caucasian American participants differ in their attitudes toward therapy-seeking as well as their preferences for a same raced therapist by means of explicit and implicit assessment.For more information on how to participate, please contact Trinity Howell at
th8942a@student.american.edu.



African Americans and Trichotillomania


This project investigates the effect of ethnic identity on clinical distress and impairment in African Americans suffering from hair pulling disorder, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differs. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. The current study attempts to shed light on this controversy by assessing the influence of ethnic identity and other protective factors on the African American experience of Trichotillomania.



Worry and Social Anxiety Across Cultures


The diathesis-stress model of vulnerabilities and anxiety symptoms has specified the relationships among the symptoms of worry, social anxiety, and autonomic arousal on the one hand, and the traits of positive and negative affectivity on the other.
Structural equation modeling (SEM) has reported an association among symptoms of generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders with negative affectivity - the general vulnerability for anxiety and mood disorders.Moreover, social anxiety was found to have a negative association with positive affectivity as similar with depression, while worry correlated with autonomic arousal.
Yet, empirical support for this structural model across ethnic groups remains sparse.This study seeks to address this gap by investigating how ethnic identity as a dimensional construct could influence (as a moderator) the expression of worry, social anxiety, and autonomic arousal in a comparative sample of Asians/Asian-Americans, Latinos/Latino-Americans, and European Americans.



Additional Projects

Comparing Self-Report and Informant Responses of Excessive Reassurance Seeking and Depression

The relationship between excessive reassurance seeking (ERS) and depressive symptoms has been explored by several research teams. Interpersonal stressors and rumination have been proposed as meditators in the relationship between ERS and depression. These potential mediators will be examined in the ERS-depression link. This will be the first study to also examine ERS as a mediator between interpersonal competence and depression. Furthermore, most studies in this area have primarily focused on cross-sectional comparisons which utilize self-report measures of these variables. Therefore, the current study seeks to compare self-report and informant responses (i.e. close friend and significant other) when examining the role of the above-mentioned variables in the ERS-depression relationship. If participants' subjective experiences differ from informant reports of these variables, these findings could influence how researchers collect data within this field and how clinicians might approach treatment for individuals reporting high levels of ERS and depression. For additional information regarding this study, please contact Vicki Anagnostopoulos at va5637a@student.american.edu.

Culture and Anxiety

Racial Differences in Trichotillomania

This project examines race as a predictor of perceived distress and impairment in black and white female undergraduate students who pull their body hair unrelated to grooming, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differ. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. This project assesses the mediating and moderating effects of ethnic identity and resilience. 

Implicit Association Task and Perception of Homosexuality: Differences Between African American and Non-Hispanic Caucasian Homosexual Males

Minority Stress Theory (MST) is one of the leading theories addressing the impact of racial, sexual and gender minorities on psychological and physical health. This theory postulates that gender minority stress represents a specific psychological stress derived from being a racial and sexual minority and experiencing negative life events. While there is evidence that homosexuality and racial ethnicity represent stressors associated with psychological and physical distress, there have been few attempts to address the interaction between the two. In this study we extend the extant literature by examining the association between among ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We specifically evaluate the perception of homosexual males by homosexual males through use of an Implicit Association Task (IAT). We examine whether African American homosexual men would exhibit higher internalized homophobia and perceived racial and sexual stigma, producing higher levels of psychological distress than non-Hispanic Caucasian homosexual men. We test for the hypothesis that African American males could have a less positive perception of homosexual males as measured by the IAT regardless of the ethnicity of the image compared to non-Hispanic Caucasian males. 

Colorism in the Perception of Personal Attributes: 

The concept of colorism refers to the discrimination one experiences or perceives as a result of their skin color. While there is evidence that colorism is still an issue for African Americans, there are several issues that have remained unaddressed. This project examines the perception of skin color in relationship to social and \'dpsychological outcomes, whether colorism is associated with psychological wellbeing (e.g., positive and negative affect, generic wellbeing, depression), and whether \'dspecific aspects of colorism are more or less salient than others. The possible influence of social desirability will be addressed by utilizing an implicit measure of color preference. The study will also examine ethnic identity as a potential moderator to the expected results. For more information on how to participate, please contact Candace Koman at ca1967a@american.edu.

Therapy-seeking Attitudes and Racial Preferences for Therapists: Differences Between African Americans and Caucasian Americans


Stigma has been a widely researched construct in terms of how it may influence therapy seeking among African Americans and Caucasian Americans, but data from numerous studies still have yet to conclude for which populations stigma effects the most. Additionally, attitudes toward racial matching between client and therapist has not received much attention within the last decade. The current study seeks to better understand how African American and Caucasian American participants differ in their attitudes toward therapy-seeking as well as their preferences for a same raced therapist by means of explicit and implicit assessment.For more information on how to participate, please contact Trinity Howell at
th8942a@student.american.edu.



African Americans and Trichotillomania


This project investigates the effect of ethnic identity on clinical distress and impairment in African Americans suffering from hair pulling disorder, or Trichotillomania. Prevalence rates of Trichotillomania are equivalent in both African American and Caucasian American samples, but levels of clinical distress and impairment experienced by both groups significantly differs. More specifically, African Americans do not consistently report experiencing impairment or distress due to pulling, unlike their Caucasian American counterparts. The current study attempts to shed light on this controversy by assessing the influence of ethnic identity and other protective factors on the African American experience of Trichotillomania.



Worry and Social Anxiety Across Cultures


The diathesis-stress model of vulnerabilities and anxiety symptoms has specified the relationships among the symptoms of worry, social anxiety, and autonomic arousal on the one hand, and the traits of positive and negative affectivity on the other.
Structural equation modeling (SEM) has reported an association among symptoms of generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders with negative affectivity - the general vulnerability for anxiety and mood disorders.Moreover, social anxiety was found to have a negative association with positive affectivity as similar with depression, while worry correlated with autonomic arousal.
Yet, empirical support for this structural model across ethnic groups remains sparse.This study seeks to address this gap by investigating how ethnic identity as a dimensional construct could influence (as a moderator) the expression of worry, social anxiety, and autonomic arousal in a comparative sample of Asians/Asian-Americans, Latinos/Latino-Americans, and European Americans.