The Berger’s research agenda for this decade  focuses on

How We Thrive.

The goals of our research agenda include:

  • advancing understanding of how psychological states and social environments lead to well-being,  health and disease,
  • disseminating and applying health and well-being research to real world settings 
  • educating relevant stakeholders including educators, students, parents, and policy makers on the importance of how people, communities, and societies impact health.

The Institute conducts its own research, as well as supports cutting edge collaborative research of faculty and students at the 7Cs. We  take a bio-ecological systems theory approach, which argues that multiple environmental and individual subsystems play important roles in influencing  development across the lifespan.   We approach our research  through the lens of the cultural-fit hypothesis, which emphasizes the person-situation interaction and highlights how  processes may vary across cultures and contexts. This understanding would lead to  different solutions to the same problems of healthy adaptation and development, as well as acknowledging different strengths.  

Link to our selected publications.


STAR: Stress, Temperament And Regulation
How do parents with cope with stress? How does stress in parents influence their health behaviors and how these behaviors get transmitted from one generation to the next?  What is the role of positive and negative emotions? Do they influence stress biology and children’s emotional well-being and physical health? These are some of the questions which we hope to answer in this study. We are interviewing and conducting assessments on 120 families with young children.

Collaborators: Dr. Pat Smiley, Pomona College; Dr. Jessie Borelli, University of California, Irvine.

Rural Poverty and Children’s Development

Children growing up in poverty face unique challenges. What are potential risk and protective factors? This project is a longitudinal project that tracks children since they were 9 years (they are now 24!). We are currently investigating how early experiences in life shape adjustment in early adulthood.

Collaborator: Dr. Gary W. Evans, Cornell University.

Mindfulness and Health Behaviors
With funding from NIH, we are exploring whether improving adolescents’ emotion regulation abilities would influence health behaviors.

Collaborator: Dr. Michael Otto, Boston University

Mechanisms of Health Disparities
In this project, we examine racial and ethnic differences in health disparities, as well as their mechanisms.

Collaborator: Dr. Tom Fuller-Rowell, Auburn University

MIND: Mapping Intelligence and Neural Development
We are investigating the physiological and neurobiological underpinnings of self-control abilities, as well as examining parenting practices which may influence the abilities in children.

Collaborator: Dr. Amanda Tarullo, Boston University

ERCS: Emotion Regulation as a Complex System
Are there cultural differences in children’s self-control? Do you children from different cultures respond to stress different? Understanding these cultural differences may help to further our understanding of culturally sensitive interventions  to improve children’s well-being.

Collaborator: Dr. Twila Tardif, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

We are recruiting research assistants! If you are interested in volunteering in our lab and interested in learning about how the social environment affects health and well-being, please contact us!


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