The SMaC Lab draws upon social, personality, existential, and cultural psychology to study the underlying motivations and consequences of human behavior and relationships. We conduct studies on how interpersonal relationships (e.g., attachment and loneliness), social identity (e.g., gender expression and racial identity), and contemporary social issues (e.g., prejudice, bias, racism, conspiracy theories) can influence human behavior and well-being.  

About us

Principle Investigator:

  • Dr. Peter Helm

Current Graduate Student

  • Elif Bilal

Select Representative Publications

Edwards, M. E., Helm, P. J., Pratscher, S., Bettencourt, B. A., Arndt, J. (in press). The impact of awe on existential isolation: Evidence for contrasting pathways. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 

Helm, P. J., Jimenez, T., Carter, S., & Arndt, J. (2022). A phenomenological divide: Reference group consequences for existential isolation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 00, 1-15.  

Helm, P. J., Chau, R. F., & Greenberg, J. (2022). Existential isolation: Theory, empirical findings, and clinical considerations. In R. G. Menzies, R. E. Menzies, & G. Dingle (Eds.), Existential concerns and cognitive-behavioral procedures: An integrative approach to mental health (pp. 95-113). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. 

Helm, P. J., Jimenez, T., Galgali, M. S., Edwards, M. E., Vail III, K. E., & Arndt, J. (2022). Divergent effects of social media use on meaning in life during the coronavirus pandemic via loneliness and existential isolation. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 39, 1768-1793. 

Helm, P. J., Medrano, M., Allen, J. J. B., & Greenberg, J. (2020). Existential isolation, loneliness, depression, and suicide ideation among young adults. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 39, 641-674. doi: 10.1521/jscp.2020.39.8.641 

Helm, P. J., Lifshin, U., & Greenberg, J. (2020). Terror management theory. In B. J. Carducci, C. S. Nave, J. S. Milo, & R. E. Riggo (Eds.), Wiley encyclopedia of personality and individual differences: Vol. I. Models and theories (pp. 407-411). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 

Helm, P. J., Jimenez, T., Bultmann, M., Lifshin, U., Arndt, J., & Greenberg, J. (2020). Existential isolation, loneliness, and attachment in young adults. Personality and Individual Differences159, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2020.109890 

Helm, P. J., Lifshin, U., Chau, R., & Greenberg. J. (2019). Existential isolation and death thought accessibility. Journal of Research in Personality, 82, 1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2019.103845 

Helm, P. J., Greenberg, J., Park, Y. C., & Pinel, E. C. (2019). Feeling alone in your subjectivity: Introducing the state trait existential isolation model (STEIM). Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, 3, 146-157. doi: 10.1002/jts5.41 

Helm, P. J., Rothschild, L., Greenberg, J, & Croft, A. (2018). Explaining sex differences in existential isolation research. Personality and Individual Differences, 134, 283-288. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2018.06.032 

Helm, P. J., Duchschere, J., & Greenberg, J. (2018). Treating low self-esteem: Cognitive behavioral therapy and terror management theory. In R. E. Menzies, R. G. Menzies, & L. Iverach (Eds.), Curing the Dread of Death: Theory, Research, and Practice (pp. 219-238). Brisbane, Queensland: Australian Academic Press