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Jaye Derrick

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Posted on 2/22/2017

Jaye Derrick is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Social Processes Lab at the University of Houston. Her research interests include the influence of close relationships (and faux relationships) on self-regulation, well-being, health, health behaviors, and addictive behaviors; the influence of substance use on close relationship functioning and intimate partner aggression; daily diary and EMA research methods.

Employer: University of Houston
Job Title:  Assistant Professor and Director, Social Processes Lab
Highest Degree: PhD
Institution Providing Degree: University at Buffalo, SUNY

What led you to choose a career in personality and social psychology?
I had been interested in psychology since early high school, but at that time I was interested in clinical psychology. It wasn't until I took some college classes that I realized there were other types of psychology. I became interested in attachment theory when I took a class in developmental psychology with Dr. W. Steve Rholes at Texas A&M University. I ended up working with him on my senior honor's thesis, related to attachment in adults, and that was when I first learned about social psychology. I really loved what I learned when working with Steve and with Jeff Simpson. It was really thanks to their lab meetings that I ended up applying for PhD programs in social psychology. 

Briefly summarize your current research, and any future research interests you plan to pursue. 
I primarily study how close relationships (and parasocial relationships) influence people's self-regulation, health behaviors, and addictive behaviors. We live these very social lives and are incredibly influenced by the people around us. Much of the research on behavior change has focused on how *individuals* can change their behaviors to become more successful or healthy. If anyone beyond the individual is considered, researchers usually examine that person's direct influence (e.g., provision of support; peer pressure). I have been studying ways in which close others can influence self-regulation more indirectly. For example, I have found that engaging in effortful interactions with their romantic partner makes smokers more likely to lapse during a quit attempt. Those types of interactions are usually missed in smoking research because researchers often consider the partner only as a source of support for (or against) quitting.

Why did you join SPSP?
I joined simply because I am a social psychologist, and this was my home society. 

What is your most memorable SPSP Annual Convention experience?
I'm not sure if this question refers to the actual conference, or just things that happen in the city where the conference is taking place. I have always enjoyed attending SPSP for the social aspects. Most of my close friends are social psychologists! One big memory is from the conference in Memphis. It seemed like everything closed down after 5 PM, and a friend and I were looking for a place to eat. We finally found what looked like this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Route 66 and we were a little bit skeptical about entering. But it had the most amazing food! We were both in heaven. The really fun part though was walking there with her.

How has being a member of SPSP helped to advance your career? 
I have had many opportunities to present research at SPSP, both posters and symposia, as grad student, postdoc, and faculty. Having the opportunity to discuss my research with like-minded researchers was very helpful. I've always found the preconferences to be truly helpful in this regard. I suppose some people consider this "networking," but I like to talk to people with similar interests, not necessarily those with big names.

Do you have any advice for individuals who wish to pursue a career in personality and social psychology?
If you're looking for a research idea, just look around you. What do you do? What does your family do? What do your friends do? Trying to understand why the people in your own life engage in certain behaviors can be very helpful in starting to create testable hypotheses.

Outside of psychology, how do you spend your free time?
I have a three-year-old daughter, so my first reaction was, what free time? I do spend a lot of time with my family outside of work. I also read and watch television (crucial "research" on parasocial interaction). Ideally, I'd like to start traveling and spending more time hiking and camping again. That might have to wait until my daughter is a little bit older.

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