Research at the MSR Lab

Our research at the MSR Lab focuses on mindfulness and self-control. Take a look below to see what studies we’re working on now!

Current Mindfulness Research

Naturalistic Development of Mindfulness Across Adolescence

Work in our lab approaches the study of mindfulness from an explicitly developmental perspective. We conduct longitudinal studies to understand how mindfulness develops naturally across adolescence, the contextual factors that promote or thwart development, and how such changes can influence positive development. In addition to these empirical studies, we are also developing a comprehensive theory of development. We seek to provide a formal account of the mechanisms governing changes in mindfulness. the mechanisms driving changes in mindfulness.

Mindfulness Training to Reduce Stress and Boost Motivation in STEM

Worries about belonging, comparing oneself to others, and doubting one’s abilities are common experiences for many undergraduates in STEM courses. Yet these concerns can lead to high levels of stress, and potentially, sap motivation and engagement. Our lab is conducting a series of randomized experiments to test whether training in mindfulness can boost confidence, there reducing stress and improving motivation and engagement and learning.

Impact of Mindfulness on Self-Efficacy Beliefs

Our lab is currently conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of mindfulness-based interventions to promote self-efficacy, defined as the perception of one’s ability to perform goal-directed behavior.

Current Self-Control Research

Social Media Behavior Change Interventions

Adolescent development is now entwined with social media. Beyond imposing restrictions on adolescents’ use of social media, a growing societal need will be to understand how adults can empower adolescents to take stock of their SMU so that they can make more informed and intentional choices. Our lab is conducting experiments with adolescents to test the impact of brief, “wise” interventions to promote self-regulation of social media use.

How Beliefs about Effort Shape Self-Regulated Learning Decisions

Why do students make bad self-regulated learning choices? They often cram the night before an exam when they should space their study across days and weeks, and they reread their notes when quizzing is more effective for learning. Our lab has found evidence for a misinterpreted-effort hypothesis: Specifically, that students avoid difficult-but-desirable learning strategies because the effort required leads students to believe that such strategies are ineffective. In other words, students misperceive effort as indicating poor learning. Ongoing work explores how such beliefs about task effort contribute to differences in self-regulation choices.

Social Media and Character Development

This is an ongoing project with the Character Lab Research Network, a consortium of schools across the country that work collaboratively with scientists to advance character development research. Across several cohorts, we have conducted multiple longitudinal, school-based studies with adolescents. Our primary aim is to understand which aspects of social media use promote positive development and which appear to hinder development, across interpersonal, psychological, and academic domains.

Other Research

In addition to the projects mentioned above, we have also studied a variety of other topics in relation to mindfulness and self-control. We have studied the impact of weeklong mindfulness retreats to increase adolescents’ well-being, motivational interventions to boost mindfulness practice, and brief self-compassion training to improve classroom teachers’ resilience. We have also examined associations between individual differences in self-control and important life outcomes, and psychological mechanisms underlying successful self-control. Another major aim of our lab is to develop and validate measures of mindfulness and self-control.

Check out the publications page to learn more about these studies!