Ph.D., University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, 2018
Nonsuicidal self-injury, substance use, aggression
My program of research seeks to identify mechanisms that are involved in the initiation and continuance of behaviors that lead to short-term relief but have long-term negative consequences (hereafter dysregulated behaviors) such as nonsuicidal self-injury, substance use, and aggression. Specifically, my work examines the roles of emotions, cognitions, and their interaction as antecedents to these behaviors and how engaging in these behaviors affect emotion. My work uses multiple methods including laboratory-based experiments, ambulatory assessment, and meta-analysis. The majority of my work has focused on understanding the role of negative emotion in dysregulated behaviors. Many theories posit that negative affect is an antecedent to the engagement in a dysregulated behavior and that engagement in a dysregulated behavior has the consequence of temporary relief from negative affect (Baker et al., 2004; Linehan, 1993; Selby & Joiner, 2009). In several studies, I have found support for the role of affect as an antecedent to substance use (Bresin, Mekawi, & Verona, 20018; Bresin & Fairbairn, under review), nonsuicidal self-injury (e.g., Bresin, Carter, & Gordon, 2013), and aggression (Bresin & Gordon, 2013a). My work has also tested the proposal that engagement in dysregulated behaviors leads to temporary relief from negative emotions. Across several experiments and a meta-analysis, my work has shown that negative affect decreases after experiencing acute physical pain, a proxy for nonsuicidal self-injury (Bresin, et al., 2010; Bresin & Gordon, 2013b; Bresin, Kling, & Verona, 2018; Bresin & Verona, 2016). In my future work, I hope to develop a theoretical framework to help understand why some people engage in several dysregualted behaviors and others only one, and what influences people who engage in several dysregulated behaviors to engage in one at any given point in time.