SPEAR Lab

People

Current Research Team


Primary Investigator

Dr. Kenneth Vail, Ph.DDr. Vail, Lab Supervisor

Kenneth Vail is a psychological scientist and professor at Cleveland State University, and director of the Social Psychology & Existential Attitudes Research (SPEAR) Laboratory. He completed his BA in psychology at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and his MA and PhD at the University of Missouri. Dr. Vail’s research is focused on existential psychology, including the consequences of humans' awareness of their own mortality, autonomy, and choice freedom, and the influence of these existential concerns on cultural activity (e.g., politics, religion), personal growth, and both physical health (e.g., nutrition, carcinogenic behavior) and mental health (e.g., PTSD). At Cleveland State University, Dr. Vail has earned awards (e.g., Outstanding Research; Outstanding Teaching; Golden Apple Award) for his work teaching and mentoring across a variety of domains in psychological science.

Dr. Vail is also a founder and President of the International Society for the Science of Existential Psychology, and co-organizer of the annual Existential Psychology SPSP conference. He’s published a research handbook titled, The Science of Religion, Spirituality, and Existentialism; he’s co-edited special issues on existential psychology research in peer-reviewed journals such as Religion, Brain, & Behavior (2018) and Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology Vol. 1 & Vol. 2 (2020); he writes pop-science articles about existential psychology research for Tree of Life at Psychology Today and Medium; and he’s published dozens of peer-reviewed research articles and scholarly works. Some of his research findings have been featured in national and international news outlets including The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Live Science, TEDx, Telegraph UK, and the Times of India. He has contributed to notable volumes such as: Science and the World's Religions; The Psychology of Meaning; The Experience of Meaning in Life; Advances in Motivation Science; and the Handbook of Terror Management Theory and Research.

 

Graduate Student Researchers

Lauren SedivyLauren

  • MA - Psychological Science Program 2020-2022
  • Graduate student
  • Cleveland State University
  • Department of Psychology
  • Email: lauren.sedivy2014@gmail.com

Lauren graduated from Hiram College with a BA in Neuroscience and a minor in Biomedical Humanities. Her research passions include existential isolation, terror management theory, and social cognitive neuroscience. Currently, she is focused on exploring how the effects of existential isolation might be influenced by a variety of factors, such as gender, social context, and emotional memory.

 

Ashley SeelingAshley Seeling

  • MA – Psychological Science Program 2021-2023
  • Graduate Student
  • Cleveland State University
  • Department of Psychology 
  • Email: aseeling0224@gmail.com

Ashley earned her BA from Cleveland State University in 2021, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Statistics. Her research interests include existential social psychology, with applications to religion and conspiratorial belief, and how these factors mitigate anxiety and impact attitudes and behaviors. She is also interested in exploring how cognitive factors (e.g., analytic thinking) or motivational orientations (e.g., autonomy, self-determination) might alter those processes.

 

Carly NaschCarly Nasch

  • MA – Psychological Science Program 2021-2023
  • Graduate Student
  • Cleveland State University
  • Department of Psychology 
  • Email: carly.nasch@gmail.com 

Carly graduated from Chapman University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Disability Studies. Her research interests include understanding the challenges of gender nonconformity, terror management theory, and psychosocial well-being and individual perceived stigmatization. Currently, her work is focused on analyzing years of previous studies to understand trends in research on religious and political topics in the field. 

 

Madison LindenMadison Linden

  • MA – Psychological Science Program 2022-2024
  • Graduate Student
  • Cleveland State University
  • Department of Psychology 
  • Email: madison.linden1@gmail.com 

Madison completed a BA in Psychology at Cleveland State after receiving an Associate's degree and a Certificate of Philosophical Studies from Lorain County Community College. Though her interests often reach beyond psychology and philosophy, existentialism and terror management theory are Madison's most pertinent interests. Currently, she is working to examine the role of cultural worldviews in moderating risk perception and prosocial behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Undergraduate Honors Program Researchers

We are currently accepting undergraduate researchers; those interested in joining the SPEAR Lab can click here for further information.

 

Undergraduate Independent Practicum Researchers

We are currently accepting undergraduate researchers; those interested in joining the SPEAR Lab can click here for further information.

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