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Interpersonal Emotion Lab

Lab members outside Asbury.

Lab members, from left to right: undergrad RA Amelia Bolstad; undergrad RA Lofaine Bradford; MA student Erika Fenstermacher; PhD student Vincent Barbieri; Associate Professor Nate Herr, PhD; PhD student Madison Guter; PhD student Alexandra Long, MA; MA student Jessica Birg.

The Interpersonal Emotion Lab Research examines topics broadly related to emotion regulation, interpersonal functioning, and identity disturbance. We are interested in how interpersonal relationships can facilitate both effective and ineffective emotion regulation, particularly within the context of borderline personality disorder (BPD). We study which relationships, relationship behaviors, or interpersonal cognitions are effective and which are ineffective for individuals with BPD and related disorders. We are also looking into telehealth applications of emotion regulation strategies.

Currently, our lab is exploring authentic emotional expression and identification of authentic facial emotion. Historically, studies testing emotion recognition have used stimuli of individuals expressing emotions based on a directional prompt for which emotion to express (e.g., anger, sadness, etc.). While validated, these stimuli do not fully capture authentic emotional experience. The present study attempts to address this issue by recording authentic emotional experiences of individuals with the purpose of creating a new emotional stimulus that the lab will use for future studies related to emotion recognition. 

We recently completed a study that used Electroencephalography (EEG) to examine emotional reactivity to images of facial emotions of varying intensities among individuals with diagnoses of BPD or depression. We also previously completed a study that used a behavioral measure of aggression to examine how validation or invalidation after a sad mood induction influences aggression among individuals with difficulty regulating emotions compared to individuals without these difficulties.

Our lab recently collaborated on a project with Dr. Kate Gunthert and members of her Stress and Emotion Lab here at AU that assessed predictors of interpersonal conflict, mood, and relationship aggression in a community sample of cohabiting couples using a three-week daily diary methodology.

Lab Staff & Contact

Director: Dr. Nathaniel Herr. For questions regarding undergraduate research assistant positions or research participation opportunities : nherr@american.edu

See our current lab members and lab alumni for more about their individual research interests and projects.