Coping with the stress of politics

Dr. Brett Ford, Assistant Professor

Mentor: Dr. Brett Ford

Dr. Brett Ford

Project Description

People often feel strong negative emotions in response to political events Ð outrage, frustration, fear. Although these emotions are unpleasant, they also often motivate people to take action Ð protesting, contacting representatives, donating to a cause. This action can generate large-scale societal change, but change hinges on the collective action of many individuals. My lab’s research suggests that when individuals are faced with the day-to-day stress of politics, they are (understandably) highly motivated to feel better. Fortunately, people can protect their emotional well-being using effective forms of emotion regulation. However, feeling better may also come at a cost when people lose their emotion-driven motivation to take action aimed at changing the political system that evoked the negative emotions in the first place.

In an ongoing line of research in our lab, we are focused on identifying effective emotion regulation strategies that can help people feel better but also maintain their motivation to engage in productive political action. For example, the strategy of emotional acceptance (bringing awareness to one’s negative emotions without judging those emotions) may help people feel less negative emotions over time while also helping attune people to their deeply-held values and promote values-driven behavior.

This SROP project involves an online study that will help us learn about which strategies can help people feel better in the face of political stress, while also maintaining the motivation to engage in collective action. You’ll learn how to design studies, analyze data, and share the results (e.g., in a conference presentation).

Mentorship Statement

Mentoring young scientists is one of the best parts of this job. I bring enthusiasm and curiosity every day and strive to provide a supportive learning environment for all of my students. I want students to feel comfortable developing and sharing their own perspectives as we embark on a scientific journey together. During your time in the lab, you will learn valuable research skills that can serve you in your future goals. You’ll join the lab for the summer, attend our weekly virtual lab meetings and have a chance to learn with and from other lab members. We will also have weekly one-on-one meetings where we’ll work together to identify your goals for the summer (and beyond), and work towards them. As a graduate student myself, I had the great pleasure of working with a stellar scholar through Berkeley’s SROP program and am thrilled to have the opportunity again.

Project ID 663