Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Our lab conducts research on subjective well-being—people's feelings and beliefs about the extent to which their lives are going well. We study this question from a variety of angles, using a variety of research methods. Undergraduate students in our lab gain hands-on experience with these research methods. For instance, research assistants help design and run studies in which participants' moods are manipulated to determine the effects on overall feelings of life satisfaction. In other studies, we use experience sampling methods to track people's emotions and experiences over time. Research assistants play an important role in the administration of these surveys and the explanation of the research methodology.

In addition, research assistants in the Personality and Well-Being Lab are encouraged to read broadly about the topics we research. In weekly lab meetings, we read student-selected articles related to personality and well-being. We discuss these articles, both in terms of general issues that you might discuss in your classes, and in terms of the research we are actively conducting in the lab. A number of students have gone on to complete independent study projects based on these discussions, and some of these studies have even been published!

Research assistants can participate either as volunteers or for course credit (Psychology 490 or 491). Psychology 490 is a graded course with a paper requirement. Psychology 491 is an ungraded (for-credit) course that does not have a paper requirement (see here for a more general description of indepedent study options in Psychology). Regardless of whether you are participating for credit or not, assistants are expected to contribute between six and nine hours each week, though the timing of these hours is usually very flexible. Research Assistants are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings, which are typically held on Friday mornings.

Dr. Lucas is also available to supervise honors projects (for information on the honors program in the Psychology Department, click here. In general, we recommend that you gain experience working in the Personality and Well-Being Lab before working on your honors project in the lab. That way, you can obtain experience with the methods and research topics, which makes it much easier to think about and design a study for your project. So if you would like to work with Dr. Lucas as an honors student, the best way to do this is to first volunteer in the lab!

Michigan State University Personality and Well-Being Lab