Dr. Lora Park
Summary of Research Interests:
Research in the Self and Motivation Research Laboratory focuses broadly on questions pertaining to the self, self-esteem, motivation, and interpersonal processes. Current research in the lab examines 1) the effects of receiving self-threats on goals and motivations, particularly in people's pursuit of self-esteem versus belongingness goals; 2) individual differences in the pursuit of self-esteem versus belongingness, with consequences for relationships, mental and physical health, and psychological well-being; and 3) interpersonal effects of experiencing threats to domains of contingent self-worth.
Two broad systems of motivation are posited to guide people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The self-esteem system assumes that motivation and behavior stems primarily from a desire to protect, maintain, and enhance self-esteem, especially in the face of self-threats. In contrast, the belongingness system assumes that motivation and behavior stems primarily from a desire to form and maintain close interpersonal connections with others. Individuals are likely to differ in the extent to which they are motivated by self-esteem versus belongingness concerns. Current research in the lab examines how threats to people's sense of physical attractiveness, a domain with relevance for both self-esteem and belongingness concerns, affects people's self-feelings and motivations. Studies also examine how the desire to satisfy self-esteem versus belongingness concerns affect symptoms of depression, disordered eating, and relationship outcomes.
Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
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