An almost inevitable part of being human is experiencing trauma; between 70% and 98% of people will experience trauma sometime during their lifetime. Humans also have an incredible ability to adapt to terrible events; most people who are exposed to trauma do not develop psychological disorders. Some people adapt to stressful and traumatic events with creatively, flexibility, and resiliency, while others become overwhelmed, fixated, and distressed. Experts and the scholarly literature have supported the idea that reactions to stress and trauma can be best understood as a complex interrelationship among social, psychological, and biological processes that may vary based on maturational level, past learning experiences, coping resources and methods, length of exposure and severity to traumatic or stressful events, interpersonal factors, and environmental pressures. Although trauma and stress are commonly associated with the development of posttraumatic disorder (PTSD), various other psychological problems are also common results of poor adaptation to trauma (including eating disorders, impulse-control disorders, poor body image, dissociation, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse and addiction, and dysfunctional interpersonal relationships). It is essential that we research the various aspects of how humans adapt to trauma and stress in order to identify ways to help prevent and treat maladaptive responses.

Coping, Risk, and Resiliency in Aggression and Interpersonal Violence (CRRAIV) Lab

The Coping, Risk, and Resiliency in Aggression and Interpersonal Violence (CRRAIV) Laboratory was developed in 2005 in the Department of Psychology at Western Illinois University when Dr. Melanie D. Hetzel-Riggin joined the faculty. It moved with her when she became an Associate Professor of Psychology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College in 2013. It is currently housed in Turnbull Lab. The lab is dedicated to the empirical study of issues related stress and coping, especially related to the experience of traumatic events. The overarching goal of the lab is to help students become passionate about and involved in research; to provide students with experience in research on forms of trauma, stress, coping, and adult psychological functioning; and to provide practice in basic research skills.

The projects conducted in the lab use a number of different methodologies, including self-report, narrative analysis, standardized assessment, physiological and behavioral measures, qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental designs. Equipment available to the students in the lab include BIOPAC hardware and software for measuring heart rate, skin conductance, ocular movement, muscle contraction, and evoked potentials, as well as auditory and visual stimulators, E-Prime and participant response pads. Students also have access to Sona Systems and SurveyMonkey in order to conduct online research, SPSS to conduct quantitative analyses, and NVivo and Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) to conduct qualitative analyses.


The goal of this page is to document the activities of the CRRAIV Laboratory and to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who participated in these activities. We begin with a brief description of the research areas in which studies have been conducted recently. There are also links to lists of ongoing projects.. students engaged in research projects, funding, publications, and conference presentations, as well as pictures of presentations with student authors.

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