What is studied in the IREP Lab?

The Interpersonal Relationships, Emotion & Personality (IREP) Lab @ University of Michigan - Dearborn (UMD) is dedicated to studying how individual differences in personality influence emotional experiences, emotion regulation, interpersonal functioning, and health and well-being. The Lab also focuses on evaluating the tools used to measure various aspects of personality, relational functioning, and well-being.

The overarching goal of the IREP Lab is to identify factors that help people feel more satisfied with their life, satisfied with their relationships (romantic and otherwise), and better manage their emotions. The lab is also invested in developing, building, and enhancing tools that researchers working in these areas can use in future studies.

Examples of IREP Research Projects

Examples of recent research posters from the IREP Lab can be found here. Many of Professor Siefert’s publications also can be accessed and downloaded from his Research Gate page.

Currently Active IREP Research Projects

All of the projects below are currently active and there are opportunities for students to be involved in almost all of them in some way.

The Inventory of Interpersonal Ambivalence (IIA; Siefert, 2015) Projects

Interpersonal ambivalence (IA) refers to strong, conflicting feelings about relationships. Some individuals have high levels of IA, while others are low on IA. Those high in IA experience, on the one hand, desires to connect with others and form relationships while also feeling, on the other hand, fear that they will be let down or hurt by those they get close to. Individuals high in IA often feel stuck between a rock and hard place. They want to connect with others, but their fears that this connection will prove harmful typically prevents them from trying.

To date, three IIA studies have been finished and suggest that the IIA has strong psychometric characteristics and measures something unique from closely related scales (e.g., attachment scales). Current studies build on prior studies by further examining the psychometric qualities and factor structure of the IIA, examining associations between IA and adult attachment, and considering associations between IA and various outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction; relationship satisfaction).

The Personality & Self-Defining Memories Study

This study looks at how one’s personality is related to the content in one’s self-defining memories (SDMs). SDMs are autobiographical memories of past events and experiences that are so important they help us to understand and define who we are as individuals and how we have come to be this way. SDMs are typically memories 1) of a specific event of experience 2) that involves strong emotions 3) and helps the individual understand who he or she is and/or how he or she came to be this way. Additionally, SDMs are usually things we have thought about several times in our lives. The purpose of this study is to look at how aspects of the individual SDMs one recall relate to one’s personality. Research from this project has also contributed to the development and validation of a new method for eliciting and coding SDMs, the Talking About Life Events – Task & Rating Manual (TALE-TRM; Siefert, DeFife, & Funke, 2015) for coding features of personality within SDMs.

The Social Cognition and Object Relations College Student Project

Does our personality and life situation impact the way we think about the world, feel about others, and form narratives? Studies suggest that the way one makes up stories says something about one’s personality (e.g., motivation; emotional regulation). The Social Cognition and Object Relations - Global Rating Method (SCORS-G; Stein, Hilsenroth, Slavin-Mulford, & Pinsker, 2011., Westen, 1995) is an expert-rated system for coding narratives. It has most frequently been utilized to study clinical samples. The studies in this project 1) look at the utility of the measure for use with college students, 2) identify and study factors that may impact ratings (e.g., card pull), and 3) look at how these ratings are associated with students’ interpersonal problems, subjective well-being, and experience of physical symptoms (e.g., the common cold). If you are interested in using the SCORS-G, simply click on the “Links and Resources” option in the menu to find the link for the manual.

The Development of an Advertising Structure Typology

Advertising relies heavily on emotion and appealing to specific types of people. While each individual advertisement is uniquely distinct, modern ads do tend to organize into a limited number of structures. Similar to jokes, which also have a limited number of structures which can produce an infinite amount of expressions, learning about ad structures may help individuals to better understand the strengths and weakness of each approach. This may help them better select advertising structures to fit their marketing agenda. This study focuses on the development of an expert rating manual for coding ads in terms of structural-format. In collaboration with other investigators, this study examines if 1) ads can be reliably rated in terms of their format structure, 2) if different structural formats are consumed by viewers in different ways (e.g., consistently yield different patterns of EEG activity) and 3) if ad format moderates associations between consumers’ experience of the ad and ad market performance.