Emotion Regulation & Health (Davis)

Emotion Regulation & Health (Davis)
Keywords: chronic pain; resilience; mindfulness; well-being
Lab Area
Clinical Psychology
Lab Director
Mary Davis, PhD
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers
Contact Us

The Emotion Regulation and Health Lab works to understand how emotional and social aspects of life affect how people adapt to the challenges of chronic stressors, including chronic pain. 

The research areas we are most interested in include:

  • Mindfulness-based approaches to improving emotion regulation in chronic pain. Can learning to simply pay attention to what’s happening in the moment, without judging it, help improve mood, coping, and day-to-day health?
  • The physical health effects of childhood trauma. Early adversity sets the stage for health problems later in life.  What are the psychological, social, and physiological mechanisms driving the adversity-health relation?
  • Affectionate touch, mood, and stress responses. Touch can be one means of mitigating the effects of stress.  How does that happen?  Is it true for everyone?
  •  Sources of resilience that offset the demands of stress. We are often inclined to focus on factors that make individuals vulnerable to stress.  Yet vulnerable individuals also have strengths.  What are key strengths, like feeling loved, that can protect individuals from the negative effects of adversity, like pain?
  • How is chronic pain transmitted from parents to children? Having a parent with chronic pain increases the risk that a child will develop chronic pain as well.  What are the psychological, environmental, and biological mechanisms that can explain these relations?

Lab Director & Principal Investigator: Mary Davis, PhD, Professor 

Dr. Davis received her PhD in Psychology (Clinical area) from the University of Pittsburgh and grew up in Northern California, the Philippines, and Idaho. Her research interests include psychological and social factors that promote adaptation to chronic illness; mindful acceptance as an approach to emotion regulation that minimizes distress and promotes well-being in chronic pain; and resilience to stress and early trauma. Curriculum Vitae.

Current Graduate Students

Laurie Dempsey Wolf: Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology

Undergrad Education: University of South Florida
Likes: cats, hiking, zumba
Research Interests: impact of social and emotional experiences (e.g., loneliness, trauma history) on physical experience of chronic illness, particularly chronic pain.

Kirti Thummala, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology

Undergrad Education: University of Michigan
Likes: Thai food and sushi; Netflix marathons with friends; running
Research Interests: Understanding emotional, social, and physiological factors that enhance effective emotion regulation, particularly in people with chronic health conditions; the role of day-to-day interpersonal experiences in how people cope with daily stressors related to chronic pain; the impact of trauma and chronic stress on emotional and physical health outcomes; and mindfulness meditation-based interventions. 

Dhwani Kothari, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology

Undergrad Education: University of Colorado (Boulder); Graduate Education: San Diego State Univ Likes: Bollywood, Harry Potter, cooking
Research Interests: Emotional reactivity and physiological responses in chronic pain populations, such as fibromyalgia syndrome and osteoarthritis.

Shannon Moore, Doctoral Student, Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychology

Undergrad Education: University of Delaware
Likes: dogs, cats, hiking, cooking vegetarian
Research Interests: impact of race and socioeconomic status on the emotional experience of pain, as  well as functional and physical outcomes in chronic pain patients.

Post-doctoral Fellow

Ellen WanHeung Yeung, PhD, Social Psychology

Undergrad Education: University of California at Berkeley
Former post-doctoral fellow, now at University of Missouri
Current research Interests: (1) Studying the genetic and environmental influences on the bidirectional relation of alcohol use disorder and chronic pain. (2) Bridging substantive and quantitive knowledge to generate novel methodological and statistical approaches to address substantive interests.

Where are they Now?

Shannon Stark Taylor, PhD, Post-doc Fellow, Veterans Administration, Durham, NC

Join the Lab!

NEW!  Research Specialist JOB# 27027BR (posted 10-19-16)

Select Publications

Below are a sample of recent publications from Dr. Davis' research and lab. A more complete listing may be found in Dr. Davis' curriculum vitae.  (Student authors are italicized)


Driscoll, M.A., Davis, M.C., Aiken, L.S., Yeung, E.W., Sterling, E.W., Vanderhoof, V., Calis, K.A., Popat, V., Covington, S.N., & Nelson, L.M. (2016). Psychosocial vulnerability, resilience resources and coping with infertility: A longitudinal model of adjustment to primary ovarian insufficiency.  Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Stonnington, C.M., Kothari, D.J., & Davis, M.C. (2016). Understanding and promoting  resiliency in patients with chronic headache. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports.

Sturgeon, J.A., Arewasikporn, A., Okun, M.A., Davis, M.C., & Zautra, A.J. (2016). The psychosocial context of financial stress: Implications for inflammation and psychological health. Psychosomatic Medicine.


Yeung, E.W., Davis, M.C., & Ciaramitaro, M. (2015). Cortisol Profile Mediates the Relation Between Childhood Neglect and Pain and Emotional Symptoms among Patients with Fibromyalgia, Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 

Rivers, C., Zautra, A.J., & Davis, M.C. (2015). Resilience. In C. Aldwin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Elsevier.

Thummala, K., Davis, M.C., Kratz, A.L., Tennen, H., & Zautra, A.J.  (2015).  Emotions.  Encyclopedia of Positive Psychology.  Wiley-Blackwell.

Dowd, H., Hogan, M.J., McGuire, B.E., Davis, M.C., Sarma, K.M., Fish, R.A., & Zautra, A.J. (2015).  Comparison of an online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy intervention with online pain management psychoeducation:  A randomized controlled study.  Clinical Journal of Pain, 31, 517-527.

Davis, M.C. Mindfully considering treatment of fibromyalgia: A Comment on Cash et al. (2015).  Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49, 299-300. 

Wolf, L.D., Davis, M.C., & Yeung, E.W. (2015). The within-day relation between lonely episodes and subsequent clinical pain in individuals with fibromyalgia:  Mediating role of pain cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 79, 202-206

Kothari, D. J., Davis, M.C., & Yeung, E.W., & Tennen H. (2015). Positive affect and pain: Mediators of the within-day relation linking sleep quality to activity interference in fibromyalgia. Pain, 156, 540-546

Yeung, E.W., Davis, M.C., Aiken, L.S., & Tennen, H. (2015). Social enjoyment interrupts the cycle of same-day and next-day fatigue in women with fibromyalgia. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49, 411-419.

Davis, M.C., Zautra, A.J., Wolf, L.D., Tennen, H., & Yeung, E.W. (2015). Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions for chronic pain: Differential effects on daily pain reactivity and stress reactivity.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 83, 24-35

Davis, M.C., Zautra, A.J., Wolf, L.D., Tennen, H., & Yeung, E.W. (2015). Mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral interventions for chronic pain: Differential effects on daily pain reactivity and stress reactivity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.


Davis, M.C., Thummala, K., & Zautra, A.J. (2014).  Stress-related clinical pain and mood in women with chronic pain:  Moderating effects of depression and positive mood induction. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 48, 61-70. doi: 0.1007/s12160-013-9583-6 .

Wolf, L.D., & Davis, M.C. (2014). Loneliness, daily pain, and perceptions of interpersonal events in adults with fibromyalgia.  Health Psychology, 33, 929-937.


Arewasikporn, A., Davis, M.C., & Zautra, A. (2013).  Resilience: A framework for understanding the dynamic relationship between social relations and health.  In M. L. Newman & N. A. Roberts (Eds.), Health and Social Relationships: The Good, the bad, and the complicated. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Burleson, M.H. & Davis, M.C. (2013).  Social touch and resilience. In M. Kent, M.C. Davis, & J. Reich (Eds.), Handbook of resilience: Approaches to stress and trauma (pp.131-143).  New York, NY: Routledge.

Davis, M.C., Burke, H.M., Zautra, A.J., & Stark, S. (2013).  Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions.  In A. M. Nezu, C. M. Nezu, & P. A. Geller (Eds.), Handbook of Psychology, Volume 9: Health Psychology (pp. 182-199). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley Publishers.

Davis, M.C. & Zautra, A.J. (2013).  An online mindfulness intervention targeting socioemotional regulation in fibromyalgia:  Results of a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 46, 273-284.

Davis, M.C., Zautra, A.J., & Stark, S. (2013).  Arthritis: Psychosocial aspects.  In M.D. Gellman & J.R. Turner (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine (pp. 130-144). New York, NY: Springer.

Kent, M. & Davis, M.C. (2013). Resilience training for action and agency: Becoming the hero of your life. In M. Kent, M.C. Davis, & J. Reich (Eds.), Handbook of resilience: Approaches to stress and trauma (pp. 227-244).  New York, NY: Routledge.

Kent, M., Davis, M.C.,  & Reich, J. (2013).  Handbook of resilience: Approaches to stress and trauma.  New York, NY: Routledge.

Taylor, S.S., Davis, M.C., & Zautra, A.J. (2013). Relationship status and quality moderate daily pain-related changes in physical disability, affect, and cognitions in women with chronic pain. Pain, 154, 147-153.

News & more!

Congratulations to Dhwani Kothari!  Her paper presentation at the 2015 annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine was chosen by the Program Committee to receive a Citation award.  Her paper title was "Daily Positive Mood and Pain Mediate the Sleep Quality – Activity Interference Link in Fibromyalgia."

Congratulations to lab alum Mary Driscoll (PhD in 2011) for her 2015 appointment to serve in the Office of Women’s VA Health Services.    

Congratulations to lab alum Anna Kratiz (PhD in 2009) for receiving the 2015 early career research award from the  Division of Rehabilitation Psychology (American Psychological Association).

May, 2014:  Marissa Ciaramitaro won the award for Best Honors Project in Psychology against outstanding competition. Congratulations, Marissa! 

May, 2014:  Ellen Yeung’s presentation at the Association of Psychological Science Conference in San Francisco was selected by the Program Committee to be highlighted in a press release noting important advances in the field:  The Role of Social Enjoyment in Daily Fatigue among Women with Fibromyalgia

June, 2014:  Shannon Stark Taylor successfully defended her dissertation.