Our research

Welcome to the UMKC Social Cognition and Health Research Team page!  We appreciate your interest. Our team examines several aspects of health related to social cognition, with a particular focus on the creation of attributions following a chronic disease diagnosis, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer.

We’ve examined causal attributions and their short- and long-term effects on physical and mental health status. We’ve also explored the effects of discrimination on affective and health outcomes among Hispanic Americans, as well as the effects of poverty and stress on health-related quality of life following a heart attack. Most recently, our team has developed two scales to assess self-blame attributions in patients with CVD and cancer.

According to Janoff-Bulman, self-blame attributions can be divided into those that capture controllable behaviors that caused a stressor (i.e., behavioral self-blame; BSB) versus those that reflect dispositional and uncontrollable causes of a stressor (i.e., characterological self-blame; CSB). Ours is the first team of which we are aware to develop and validate self-blame attribution scales to explore patients’ causal origins of CVD and cancer.

Cardiac Self-Blame Attributions (CSBA) scale: After validating the psychometric properties of the scale (see Harry et al., 2018), we are now testing the predictive validity of it in patients with CVD who are participating in cardiac rehabilitation. That is, we are testing the scale’s ability to predict health outcomes from cardiac rehab, including blood pressure, body mass index, healthy dietary choices, physical fitness capacity, and mental well-being. The CSBA has recently been translated by researchers in Iran for use with Persian-speaking patients in cardiac rehabilitation (CSBA-P; Goudarzian et al., 2020).

Self-Blame Attributions for Cancer (SBAC) scale: We’ve also validated a measure of self-blame attributions among patients with cancer (see Eways et al., 2020). We are now testing the ability of the scale to predict outcomes such as perceived health, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and coping.

In addition to these projects focusing on self-blame, we are studying benefit-finding during the COVID-19 pandemic among college-age adults in the US. We are interested in exploring how benefit-finding may affect adjustment processes and academic outcomes during this unprecedented time in our history. We will be sharing some of our initial findings as a poster (Ramirez et al.) at the upcoming 2023 American Psychological Association conference in Washington, DC.

We also conducted a study examining whether perseverative cognitions, like vigilance and worry, mediate the associations between experiences of discrimination, experiences of microaggressions, and sleep quality among Black Americans. We will be sharing our initial findings (Wilson et al.) from this project at the upcoming 2023 Society for Behavioral Medicine conference in Phoenix, AZ.

Social Cognition and Health Research Team; Last updated on 12/15/22