The University of San Francisco: College of Arts & Sciences

Spotlight Helena Interview

This July, I sat down with Psychology undergraduate, Helena Karnilowicz, who received the 2012 American Psychological Society Summer Research Grant.  We discussed a little bit about her research and here’s what she had to say:

“I was accepted into the honors program in the fall of last year and I knew I loved detachment theory and wanted to do something along those lines.  I was initially really interested in attachment theory which is a theory about parent-child interactions and how they help form people’s perceptions throughout their life.  Then Dr. Knight (Assistant Professor of Psychology) who is in the emotion regulation field, started talking to me about this particular study about people’s choice in emotional regulation strategies when they’re viewing negative pictures.  It sounded very similar to the studies that I’d read in the attachment field.  But everything I’d read in the attachment field was very theoretical.” 

“So I thought, why hasn’t anyone taken an attachment theory perspective in emotion regulation?  So I adapted this study by Gal Scheppes  - who is in emotion regulation -  by looking at people’s choice between reappraisal (reinterpreting an emotional stimulus to alter your emotional response – so basically just changing the way you think about something), and distraction theories (trying not to think about what is in front of you  but  to think of something neutral to distract yourself).  I was interested in how people chose between these two strategies.  Then I decided to expand on their work and look at how people feel afterwards and if that changes depending on their attachment style.”

So what’s in the future for Helena?

“I’d like to is publish a paper on the research and then hopefully work more with Dr. Knight and develop some other ideas based on this project.  Then continue doing more research before I decide to hop on the graduate program train!”