Research Projects

Research Projects

Mapping Resilience and Other Outcome Trajectories Following Potential Trauma

Mapping resilience and other outcomes following potentially traumatic life events.

Our research in this area attempts to map multiple trajectories of outcome following various potentially traumatic life events. The most common outcomes we have identified, both theoretically and empirically, include resilience, recovery and chronic dysfunction. Our recent studies have attempted to better capture the full heterogeneity of long-term responses to aversive events using structural equation models, such as Latent Growth Mixture Modeling (LGMM). Among the life events we have investigated include bio-epidemic, the death of loved one, terrorist attach, traumatic injury, life-threatening disease and surgery, exposure to combat, divorce and job loss. Our lab collaborates in this work with Isaac Galatzer-Levy of New York University, as well as a host of other colleagues nationally and internationally.

The Project to Understand Reactions to Loss (PURL) Study

This study represents the second phase of a broader NIMH-funded research program designed to understand the development of prolonged grief and other types of reactions to loss with an eye toward informing new directions in assessment and intervention. Data collection has been completed and we are now in the process of analyzing and writing up our findings. Several papers have been published recently (see publications)


Flexibility in Coping and Emotion Regulation

We have developed a heuristic framework (Bonanno & Burton, 2013) and a set of experimental and self-report measures to assess flexibility in coping and emotion regulation. This framework involves three sequential processes: The ability to accurately decode the demands and challenges presented by the situation (context sensitivity), the ability to use different types of regulatory behaviors/strategies (repertoire), and the ability to monitor and modify regulatory strategy efficacy after it is instantiated (feedback). One version of our experimental paradigm, which we have referred to as expressive flexibility (EF), assesses people’s ability to "modulate," that is ramp up (enhance) and ramp down (suppress) emotional expression. More recent versions of the paradigm have involved the up- and down-regulation of affective experience measured using facial EMG and EEG. We have also developed an experimental measure of the feedback component, the Responsiveness to Internal Feedback Task (RIFT; Birk & Bonanno, 2016). Our lab has also been developing questionnaire measures of these same components for use in large-scale survey studies.

To this end, we developed a questionnaire measures of flexibility in coping with potential trauma, The Perceived Ability to Cope with Trauma (PACT) scale (Bonanno, Pat-Horenczyk, & Noll, 2011), a questionnaire measure of expressive flexibility, the Flexible Regulation of Emotional Expression (FREE) scale (Burton & Bonanno, 2016), and most recently a self-report measure of context sensitivity, the Context Sensitivity Index (CSI; Bonanno et al., 2019).

FOR COPIES OF THESE QUESTIONNAIRES, please click on the publications tab and the questionnaire tab.


For Current studies, please click links below for more information:

FamFlex Study

VetFlex Study

Resilience and transition stress in soldiers and military veterans

Our lab has been focused for a number of years on understanding how military service and in particular combat deployment influences the mental health and well-being of military personnel. Our initial research involved a productive (and still ongoing) collaboration with researchers on the Millennium Cohort Study (Bonanno et al., 2012; Porter et al., 2017: Donoho et al., 2017; Donoho et al., 2018; Porter et al., 2019). The Millennium analyses were based on prospective (as opposed to cross-sectional or longitudinal) data and led to estimates in the PTSD prevalence, replicated in other prospective data sets, of approximately 7%. This finding, in turn, led our team to argue that although PTSD is an extremely serious problem, it is not the dominant problem for most veterans. Rather we argue that the stress of the transition back to civilian life is a key problem. Moreover, because most treatment or support options for veterans focus on PTSD, few alternatives are available to address transition stress issues. 

We recently articulated these issues and findings in a recent paper published in Clinical Psychology Review (Mobbs & Bonanno, 2018) and we continue to actively study these problems in several ongoing research projects.


Social Consequences of Prejudiced Experiences (SCOPE) Study

This project was headed by Chuck Burton, from our lab, in collaboration with Professor Mark Hatzenbuhler of the Mailman School of Public Health. The SCOPE study was designed to investigate the interaction of minority stress and emotion regulation strategies in predicting mental health and risk-taking tendencies among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals. The SCOPE study has completed and Chuck Burton has now moved onto a post-doctoral research scientist position at Yale University. However, our lab is planning to continue to explore problems related to sexual orientation stigma in new research.

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