New Faculty Research in the Psychology Department

Dr. Carryl Baldwin
Dr. Carryl Baldwin

With two projects currently being funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), Dr. Carryl Baldwin is wasting no time. The first study involves surveying advanced displays and controls and discovering what human factor concerns there may be about new and future automotive technologies. The second project uses low cost physiological metrics to detect mind wandering while driving; the research team was able to reliably identify when drivers have their eyes on the road but their mind is somewhere else. One startling finding from this study was that drivers’ minds were wandering roughly 70% of the time.

In addition to these two exciting projects, Baldwin is also working on some studies that look at autonomous systems. She has been funded by Northrop Grumman Corporation for a series of experiments that look for new ways to facilitate communications with autonomous air and surface vehicles. Most people are not very good at sustaining attention for long periods of time, something they are frequently required to do when monitoring automated systems. The goal now is to find new and creative ways to support effective attentional control (e.g., provide down time when the automation is highly reliable) while maintaining some form of situation awareness. This could entail an advanced auditory display (e.g., morphing music playing in the background) or changes in ambient lighting colors to gently and appropriately direct people’s attention to the autonomous display as necessary. Baldwin’s deep interest in applied auditory cognition within transportation settings makes these projects align perfectly with her passions. In light of the recent and continued growth in autonomous systems it is important to study how this will impact human attention, workload, and fatigue. If this is the kind of research that you love doing, Baldwin’s team is looking for participants for simulation studies, along with subject matter experts and anyone who has experience piloting. 

 

Dr. Seth Kaplan
Dr. Seth Kaplan

Dr. Seth Kaplan is currently examining the experience of work and improving employees’ experiences and well-being. With a grant from the Department of the Army, Kaplan is studying affective forecasting, which is the sense of how we anticipate we would feel in certain situations.  This topic intrigues Kaplan because he is particularly interested in the psychological benefits of working.

Work can be a great source of stress and psychological and physical problems, but it can be structured in a way that can promote a number of benefits. Regarding the stressful elements of a work experience, Kaplan notes that, “We tend to think about the effects of events in life and things we can’t recover from, but our ability to adapt goes unappreciated.” Other researchers have concluded that our feelings are not as extreme as we anticipate and often dissipate faster than we might think. Kaplan’s current study is looking further into what factors make those predictions more or less accurate and what consequences might follow from our workplace experiences. If you are interested in learning more about this study or about initiatives to improve workplace well-being more generally, please contact Dr. Kaplan at skaplan1@gmu.edu.

 

Dr. Stephen ZaccaroDr. Stephen Zaccaro

For years, Dr. Stephen Zaccaro has been involved in research on leadership and individual differences. This topic has been an interest of his since he first wrote a paper about leadership during his graduate studies in 1980. That early work emphasized that leadership emergence is indeed grounded in individual differences, more so than believed at the time. Since then, his research in this area has confirmed that leader individual differences matter but they matter in some complex ways when it comes to predicting leadership outcomes. Zaccaro is currently examining how such individual differences interface with situational parameters in determining leader role occupancy and leadership effectiveness. He is also examining drivers and consequences of leaders’ motivation to engage in leadership development, as well as their choices of particular developmental activities.

The other major area Zaccaro is working on is multiteam systems (MTS). A multiteam system consists of multiple teams working closely together on a core mission or task. The focus of this research is on factors that optimize processes within teams and between teams in such systems. Zaccaro is studying the governance and leadership of multiteam systems, particularly how MTS leadership influences the assembly of teams into the MTS, and their processes in working together. These kinds of collectives are being examined in multiple settings including health, science, cyber security, and business settings.

Zaccaro is always looking to hear about alumni and student experiences with leadership development and multiteam systems. If you wish to share about your involvement in one of these areas, please contact him at szaccaro@gmu.edu.

 

Dr. Yi-Ching Lee
Dr. Yi-Ching Lee

Dr. Yi-Ching Lee was recently featured in George Mason University’s faculty and staff news outlet, The George, in an article describing her study on how researchers can use driving patterns to detect and diagnose disease. To learn more about her exciting research and findings, please take a look at the article at https://www2.gmu.edu/news/386301.

We are very proud of our faculty members for their dedication to research and passion for making the world a better place. For more updates on their current research, check out our career blog.