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Areas of Interest

My research concerns self-regulation – how people direct their thoughts, feelings, and actions to achieve their goals. My particular interests are health behavior change and emotion regulation. There are several strands to this work:

  • A key focus has been the intention-behavior ‘gap’. My colleagues and I have shown that people successfully translate (even strong) intentions into action only about 50% of the time (e.g., Sheeran, 2002). Our research also pinpointed several factors that determine the consistency between intentions and behaviour (e.g., Sheeran & Webb, 2012).
  • A concomitant line of research uses if-then plans or implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, 1999) to reduce the intention-behavior ‘gap’ and improve rates of performance of health behaviors (e.g., Martin, Sheeran et al., 2011).
  • A third line of research is concerned with providing crucial tests of health behavior theories. This work uses meta-analysis to assess how much change in health-related intentions and behavior accrues from interventions that change the key predictors specified by the theories, namely, risk perceptions, fear/worry, perceptions of severity, attitudes, social norms, and self-efficacy (e.g., Sheeran, Harris, & Epton, 2013; Webb & Sheeran, 2006).
  • Recent work has begun to examine nonconscious routes to action and the self-regulation of implicit influence (Gollwitzer, Sheeran et al., 2011; Rivis & Sheeran, 2013; Sheeran, Gollwitzer, & Bargh, 2013).
  • Our research on emotion regulation has developed and tested a taxonomy of strategies for managing unwanted feelings (Webb, Miles, & Sheeran, 2012) and explored the value of an action control perspective on emotion regulation (e.g., Varley et al., 2011; Webb et al., 2012).

I hope to take on a graduate student in Fall 2024 and welcome applications from members of  under-represented groups.

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