Research in Social Psychology
Does Ego-Resilience Impact Friendship Outcomes?
By Elizabeth B. Lozano
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, as well as a Master’s degree in Research Psychology from UMass Dartmouth. Currently, I’m a first-year doctoral student studying Social Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The story of my research began in 2009 as a freshman at UMass Dartmouth. Having always wanted to be a “doctor”, I felt completely unsure of my future and where I was headed. Luckily, Dr. Trina Kershaw’s PSYCH 101 class (in particular, her weekly book club) got me really excited about Psychology! This interest quickly developed into my active involvement as an undergraduate research assistant.
As the next few years passed, the passion for serving as an RA blossomed into my undergraduate thesis as a Commonwealth Honors Program Scholar and consequently, my desire to attend graduate school. I was extremely fortunate to have a faculty member whose research was closely aligned with my own. Dr. Mahzad Hojjat had a keen interest in Positive Psychology which led to my idea of studying resilience and positive emotions in the context of friendship. As daunting as the project was at times, I knew it was going to help me further my goals.
Looking back, the person who truly inspired me was, indeed, my advisor, Dr. Hojjat. Despite every challenge, she encouraged me to keep going. Every week I looked forward to our talks about research and academia. As we bonded throughout the years, Dr. Hojjat became the role model that I wished to emulate.
Elizabeth B. Lozano and Dr. Mahzad Hojjat at the International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) conference, 2015.
By the time application deadlines for graduate programs approached, I was certain that my dream was taking hold. Not only had I established fruitful contact with potential lab directors (i.e., PIs), but I possessed summa cum laude standing, approximately four years of research experience, and leadership in extracurricular activities. In an effort to present myself even better, I chose to pursue a terminal Master’s degree in Research Psychology and accept a teaching assistant-ship for my tenure of graduate school. It is through these opportunities that I obtained valuable experiences, such as supervising an undergraduate honors student on her thesis and co-teaching the lab component of a graduate-level statistics class. Above all, I published the results of my OUR funded honors thesis research. The research examined the connection between resilience and beneficial outcomes in young adult friendships. It was found that resilience and positive emotions were associated with desirable friendship outcomes such as closeness, maintenance behaviors, and received social support. Most importantly, we are among the first to discover that positive emotions mediate (or explain) this relationship. Our results have important implications for interpersonal functioning, most notably that positive emotions may lead to positive behaviors (i.e., friendship maintenance) and higher quality friendships.
Left: The cover page of the Journal of Individual Differences, where Lozano’s OUR funded research was published; right: Snapshot from Lozano’s article, written in conjunction with Mahzad Hojjat and Judith Sims-Knight.
Two years later, and with considerably more experience, I applied to PhD programs. I had two options. The first option was to work as an IRB Analyst at Tufts University in Boston, close to home, while the second prospect involved moving my life to Illinois to work in a research lab at U of I. Rather than focusing on the short-term sacrifices (e.g., location, time, and money), I recognized that the research position would give me more opportunities to network, all the while allowing me to do what I love. Later that year, I was accepted to the PhD program in Social Psychology at the University of Illinois In Urbana-Champaign.
Fast forward to October 2016 and I’m about a month into my long-awaited journey as a doctoral student. My new advisor and I are working on a series of experiments investigating whether blame and praise are socially contagious. We’re particularly interested in the ways that individuals quantify these judgements.
The six years at UMass Dartmouth were some of the best years of my life — every experience helped cultivate my strong work ethic and desire to excel in research, thanks to the passion and support of faculty and staff. I can safely say that my scholarly experience as a Corsair effectively prepared me for the challenges of today, where I am a student at one of the best Social Psychology programs in the country. It is my hope that sharing my research journey will encourage readers to pursue their passion despite the many challenges and roadblocks that may lie ahead.
*Elizabeth B. Lozano, Mahzad Hojjat and Judith Sims-Knight, Journal of Individual Differences (2016), 37, pp. 128-134. DOI: 10.1027/1614-0001/a000197. © 2016 Hogrefe Publishing.