Current Students

CURRENT PH.D. STUDENTS

Deborah Ward 


Deborah received her B.A. in 2012 from Muhlenberg College, where she double majored in Psychology (Honors) and Russian Studies.  She also earned an M.S. in Psychology in 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Erica Slotter from Villanova University.  Deborah’s research interests include contingencies of self-worth, coping mechanisms, and the experiences of underrepresented minorities in higher education.  In her free time, Deborah volunteers at the SPCA of Erie County and attends as many musical theater shows as possible.  

Selected Publications

Park, L.E., Jung, H., Schultz Lee, K., Ward, D.E., Piff, P. K., Whillans, A. V., & Naragon-Gainey, K. (2020). Psychological pathways linking income inequality in adolescence to well-being in adulthood. Self and Identity.

Ward, D.E.,  Park, L.E., Naragon-Gainey, K., Whillans, A.V., & Jung, H. (2020). Can’t buy me love (or friendship): Social consequences of financially contingent self-worth. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Park, L.E., Kondrak, C.L., Ward, D.E., & Streamer, L. (2018). Positive feedback from male authority figures boosts women’s math outcomes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 359-383.

Park, L.E., Ward, D.E., & Naragon-Gainey, K. (2017). It’s all about the money (for some): Consequences of financially contingent self-worth. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43, 601-622.

Slotter, E.B., & Ward, D.E. (2015).  Finding the silver lining: The role of redemptive narratives in individuals’ emotional distress after the end of a romantic relationship. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 32, 737-756.  

Selected Presentations

Ward, D.E., Park, L.E., Walsh, C.M., Whillans, A.V., & Paravati, E. (2020, February). For the love of money: Consequences of financially contingent self-worth in relationships. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.

Ward, D. E., Park, L.E., Naragon-Gainey, K., Whillans, A.V., & Jung, H.Y. (2019, February). Can’t buy me love (or friendship): Social implications of financially contingent self-worth. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Portland, OR. (Recipient of SPSP Graduate Student Travel Award).

Ward, D.E., & Park, L.E. (2018, April). Consequences of financially contingent self-worth. Paper presented at the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Alessia Italiano 


Alessia received a B.A. with Distinction in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies in 2017 from The Ohio State University.  Her honors thesis, with Jenny Crocker, examined subtypes of narcissism and motivations for helping behavior.  After graduating, Alessia managed Patrick Carroll’s research lab at The Ohio State University-Lima.  Alessia’s research interests fall under the broad category of “the self,” with interests in self-esteem, self-threat, social roles, intersectionality, and women in STEM.  In her free time she enjoys traveling, cooking, hiking, and attending concerts.

Selected Presentations

Italiano, A. & Park, L.E. (2020, May). Effects of feedback on women’s STEM outcomes. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.
Italiano, A. & Park, L.E. (2019, May). When men include women in math: Effects on belonging, self-efficacy, and helping. Talk presented at the annual meeting of Social Psychologists Around Western New York (SPAWN), Syracuse, NY.
Italiano, A., & Jung, H., & Park, L.E. (2019, February). The bright side of the American dream: Social mobility beliefs mitigate the negative association between financial contingency of self-worth and well-being. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Portland, OR.
Freis, S. D., Brown, A. A., & Italiano, A. (2018, March). Different entitlement bases within grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Atlanta, GA.
Italiano, A., Freis, S. D., & Crocker, J. (2017, April). What’s in it for me? When will a narcissist help others? Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.
Italiano, A., Freis, S. D., & Carroll, P. J. (2016, May). When manipulation is seen as skill: Exploitation among the narcissistic subtypes. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Esha Naidu

Esha received her BS with honors in Psychology and a minor in Religious Studies from Arizona State University in 2017. Esha’s research interests broadly concern the influence of culture and feelings of connectedness on decision-making and other psychological processes. In her free time, Esha likes trying out new recipes, playing retro video games, and painting.

Selected Publications

Gabriel, S., Naidu E. S., Paravati E., Morrison C. D., Gainey, K., (in press). Creating the sacred from the profane: Collective effervesence and everyday activities. Journal of Positive Psychology.

Naidu, E. S., Patock-Peckham, J. A., Ruof, A., Bauman, D. C., Banovich, P., Frohe, T., & Leeman, R. F. (2019). Narcissism and devaluing others: An exploration of impaired control over drinking as a mediating mechanism of alcohol-related problems. Personality and Individual Differences, 139, 39-45. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2018.10.039

Kwan, V. S. Y., Naidu, E. S., & Bixter, M. T. (2019). Controlling environmental crisis appraisal through knowledge, vividness, and timing. Journal of Environmental Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.01.003

Selected Presentations

Naidu, E.S., Gabriel, S., Paravati, E. (2019, April). Movies Matter: Two Paths to Collective Effervescence. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA), Chicago, Illinois.

Naidu, E.S., Adelman, R., Bunker, C.J., Bixter, M. T., Graudejus, O., Okun, M., Kwan, V. S. Y. (2018, August). The differential effects of familism values for hispanic and white students on future certainty. Poster presented at at APA Convention, San Francisco, CA.

Naidu, E.S, Cohen, A., Johnson, K., Glenberg, A., (2016, May). The influence of soul beliefs on perceptions of self. Poster presented at Celebrating Honors Symposium, Tempe, AZ.

 Yahui Chang

Yahui received her B.A. in Public Finance from National Chengchi University, and M.A.s in Psychology from NYU and in Marketing from the University of Kansas.  Her research interests include the self and meaning in life.

M.A STUDENTS

Abbie Hessler

Abbie is a first year masters student at the University at Buffalo working with Dr. Lora Park. In addition to being a research assistant in the Self and Motivation Lab, she also works in Dr. Mark Seery’s Social Psychophysiology Lab. Abbie’s research interests include contingencies of self-worth and aspects of the self, self-threat, motivation, and associated outcomes. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, horror films, and exploring Buffalo.

Nick Gray

Nick is in his second year of the masters program for General Experimental Psychology (with a focus in Social-Personality Psychology) at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He received his B.A. in Psychology in 2019 from SUNY Buffalo State College. Nick’s research interests are in the self and motivated behaviors with regards to performance and threat. Outside of the University at Buffalo, Nick works as an assistant collegiate track and field coach, plays soccer, and does martial arts.