I am excited to be a part of the pre-health track for students at WPI. I truly enjoy teaching health psychology, psychological science, and the biological basis of psychology: psychophysiology. It is fascinating to consider the reciprocal relationships between internal psychological states and changes in physiology. Assessing these relationships, we can learn more about stress, implicit biases, resilience, cognitive effort, and factors associated with health disparities.
I was recently awarded the APF Visionary Award (2013-2014) and completed my Postdoctoral Fellowship with Drs. Celia Moore and Edward Tronick at UMass Boston. During that time, I was also named a Harvard University Sackler Scholar Fellow in Psychobiology (2011-2013).
My Ph.D. in Social Psychology was obtained at Brandeis University in 2011.
My research interests include:
-Social psychophysiological responses to stress, intergroup interactions, discrimination, stigma, and related appraisal processes.
-Autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine monitoring on health outcomes.
-Social class and health disparities, etiology and epidemiology of disease outcomes related to social processes.
-Social emotions (e.g., shame, pride, empathy) in shaping physiology, appraisal, and behavior (e.g., self-esteem, morality, relationship formation and maintenance).
-Mind-body interactions on resilience and health.
- Health Psychology
- Helping, Prosocial Behavior
- Intergroup Relations
- Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
- O'Brien, K. (2012). Healthy, Wealthy, Wise? Psychosocial Factors Influencing the Socioeconomic Status-Health Gradient. J Health Psychol doi: 10.1177/1359105311433345
- O’Brien, Tronick, & Moore (2012). Relationship between Hair Cortisol and Perceived Chronic Stress in a Diverse Sample. Stress and Health.
- O’Brien, Afzal, & Tronick, (2012). Relational psychophysiology and mutual regulation during dyadic therapeutic and developmental relating. Interdisciplinary Handbook of the Person Centered Approach: Connections Beyond Psychotherapy, Eds. Jef Cornelius-White, Renate Motschnig, Michael Lux.
- O'Brien, K. (2011). Moral Certainty Under Stress: Physiological and Psychological influences on Moral Judgments.
- O’Brien, Koslov, Argo, & Mendes, (2010). Embodied Bias: Explicit attitudes and Psychophysiology during Arab/White intergroup interactions (abstract). Observer Vol.23, No.6 July/August, 2010
- O’Brien & Moore (2011). Early Life Stress, the Development of Physiological Stress Systems, and Potential Personality Moderators (abstract). International Journal of Developmental Psychobiology, 53(7), 761.
- O’Brien & Moore (2011). Subjective and Objective Socioeconomic Status influences Differential Autonomic Stress Reactivity (abstract). International Journal of Developmental Psychobiology, 53(7),761.
- O’Brien, Tronick, & Moore (2012). Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Biological and Perceived Chronic Stress: Does Group Identification Matter? escholarship.umassmed.edu.
- O’Brien, Wingfield & Rohleder, (2011). Low Vagal Tone predicts greater Threat Perceptions and Refusal to harm Others in Socio-Moral Judgments After Social Stress. Psychophysiology, 48 (supplement 1), 593.
- Foundations of Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Social Psychology Lecture
- Social Psychology Research Lab
- Social Psychology Seminar
Kymberlee M. O'Brien
100 Institute Road
Social Sciences and Policy Studies
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609