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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Psychoneuroendocrinology Lab Faculty

PNE Lab Co-Directors

Dr. Robert T. Hitlan - Dr. Hitlan received his Ph.D. in 2002 from the University of Texas, El Paso with specialization in Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Human Behavior in Organizations).

Dr. Hitlan's research draws heavily on social psychological theories. Over the past several years, he has established a research program focusing on various social and organizational stressors. One area involves social exclusion or ostracism. He is interested in how social ostracism affects individuals and groups on several levels including intrapersonal, interpersonal, intra-group, and inter-group. Previous research on ostracism indicates that such behavior is extremely aversive to the victim resulting in threats to one's self-esteem, need for belonging, need for control, and need for meaningfulness in one's life.  Additional effects of ostracism include increased hostility and aggression, self-defeating behavior, conformity, and the likelihood of victims engaging in some form of retaliation against the perpetrators, as well as, a decreased likelihood of engaging in organizational citizenship behaviors and lower organizational commitment. 

Through the PNE Lab Dr. Hitlan's methodology has expanded to include assessments of several biomarkers related to exclusionary experiences including cortisol, testosterone,C-Reactive Protein, and other biomarkers related to immunological functioning.                                                 

Specific organizational stressors currently under investigation include sexual, ethnic, and bystander harassment experiences. Each are conceptualized as distinct types of stressors. One of the primary goals of this research is to investigate the consequences of interactions among these and other types of workplace stress on psychological, physical, and work-related attitudes and behaviors. Dr. Hitlan's lab is currently examining how each of these, independently and in conjunction with one another, influence perceptions of the workplace climate, work-related attitudes (e.g., satisfaction with coworkers, supervisors) and work-related behaviors (e.g., increased work withdrawal, hostility, and aggression).

Additional research projects include examining the relation between diet history (e.g., nutritional intake) and various biomarkers related to health and inflammation. Additionally, the lab is also involved with research designed to investigate the relation between various aspects of cell phone use and immunological function, including assessments of DNA Damage via oxidative stress. 

Dr. M. Catherine DeSoto - Catherine DeSoto earned her doctorate at the University of Missouri (Ph.D., 2001) with specialization in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Dr. DeSoto's principal area of research involves investigating the influence of hormones on both normal behavior and the expression of psychopathology, particularly borderline personality. She is broadly interested in how brain function affects behavior, and has done research involving various brain imaging techniques, including ERP’s, optical imaging and MRI.  Current research projects involve direct measurement of estrogen and testosterone levels via radioimmunoassay.  Additional areas of interest are sex differences, autism, and understanding how internal biology interacts with  environmental experiences and exposures to predict outcomes.  Dr. DeSoto has published in leading peer reviewed journals ranging from the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, to Clinical Toxicology, to The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.  Her research articles have led to recognition by the Borderline Research Foundation, have been noted to be among the most read articles for all of Biology, and have been reviewed in media outlets ranging from Science to First for Women. 

Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Dilbur ArsiwallaSocial Information Processing; Emotion Regulation; Aggressive Behavior; Parenting; Physiological Functioning; Risk and Resilience; Learning Disability in the Context of the Family.

Dr. Helen HartonAttitudes, Social influence, Culture and cultural evolution, Prejudice, Relationship satisfaction and jealousy, Complex systems theory, Computer applications

Dr. Nicholas Terpstra-SchwabSocial regulation of behavior (e.g. influence of social norms on diet and exercise)

Social norm development, Cross-cultural differences, Cultural and evolutionary psychology