Claremont McKenna College

Berger Research

How We Thrive: The focus of our research

The goals of our research agenda include:

  • advancing understanding of how well-being, health, and disease are affected by one’s psychological state and the social environments in which they interact
  • educating students, parents, educators, and public policy leaders about the ways health impacts people, communities, and societies
  • putting our research to use in real world settings

The Berger Institute conducts its own research and supports innovative and collaborative research between faculty and students at the Claremont Colleges. Our research is guided by two major views:

  1. Bio-ecological Systems Theory Approach, which argues that multiple environmental and individual subsystems play important roles in influencing development across a person’s lifespan.
  2. Cultural Fit Hypothesis, which emphasizes the person-situation interaction and highlights how processes may vary across cultures and contexts.

By incorporating both of these views into our research, we are able to find multiple solutions to a single problem. Since people have different strengths and ways of thinking, providing a variety of solutions will facilitate healthy adaptation and development for a larger number of people.

A selection of our publications can be found at the Scholarship@Claremont repository.

Current Projects & Collaborators

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!

email: sdoan@cmc.edu