Psychopathology and related behavioral problems such as substance use disorders have enormous social costs. The goal of our work is to reduce the burden these problems place on society by working to understand why some people experience psychopathology, while others remain resilient. A key thread running throughout this work relates to the development of empirically-based models of the individual difference domains that underlie tendencies to develop psychopathology.
Historically, psychopathological syndromes and rubrics for grouping them have been delineated based primarily on expert opinion. In contrast, our aim is to model psychopathology empirically, based on data. In the process of pursuing this goal, we work to develop and implement quantitative models that can help adjudicate among different accounts of psychopathology. For example, psychopathological variation has typically been assumed to be categorical in nature. In our approach, we treat this assumption as a hypothesis to be tested by modeling relevant data, as opposed to something we can simply assume by fiat. We also work to try to bring this perspective to bear on official classification systems.
In working to understand and model individual differences in psychopathological tendencies and where they come from, we pursue connections with a variety of areas, most notably personality psychology, personality disorders research, human quantitative and molecular genetics, and neuroscience. We welcome inquiries from prospective undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs interested in joining us in our research.