Welcome to Anjali Mishra's website
I am a doctoral student in the Social-Personality Psychology PhD program at the University of California, Davis (UCD) and am in the process of finishing my PhD. I came to UCD in 2007 to work with Dr. Robert Emmons, who is a leading researcher in the field of positive psychology and is the editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology. This website provides an introduction to my background, research interests, teaching and career goals.
I was born and raised in New Delhi, India, and first came to the United States in 2003 to pursue a B.A. in Psychology at George Mason University,Virginia. The development of my research interests has been an exciting journey so far, initiated via my undergraduate research experience under the mentorship of Dr. Todd Kashdan with whom I worked for two and a half years in the Lab for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena. My undergraduate honors thesis focused on age and gender differences in the experience, evaluation, and expression of gratitude (Kashdan, Mishra, Breen, & Froh, 2009). As an extension of my previous study, under the supervision of Dr. Robert Emmons, my first study at UCD examined sex differences in various prosocial emotions, including gratitude, forgiveness, and hope. Consistent with my earlier findings, women reacted more positively to experiencing gratitude, which may be a function of their having more “relational selves,” whereas men may have more “autonomous selves.” As Taylor (2000) discusses in her work on men’s tendency toward “fight or flee” in the face of threats and women’s tendency to “tend and befriend,” men may maintain autonomy and self-control when threatened or stressed, and women may seek out relationship partners who can provide compassion and support.
More recently, I have been focusing on writing-intervention studies designed to facilitate gratitude. I have been exploring the effects of writing about grateful feelings on coping with stress and promoting posttraumatic growth following stressful life events. Described ahead is a brief summary of my ongoing research.
Writing about stressful life events has psychological and physical health benefits (King & Miner, 2000; Pennebaker, 1993; Pennebaker, Barger, & Tiebout, 1989), and grateful processing of stressful life events has been found to promote well being (Watkins, Cruz, Holben, & Kolts, 2008). In the past decade, there has been accumulating evidence for the psychological, social, and physical benefits of gratitude (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002; McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons, & Larson, 2001). Gratitude as a coping mechanism promotes positive reinterpretation of life events, successful resolvement of unpleasant memories, and alleviates stress and mild depression (Fredrickson, Tugade, Waugh, & Larkin, 2003; Watkins, et al., 2008; Wood et al., 2008). My ongoing research has three overarching purposes. First, I plan to examine the benefits of grateful processing of stressful life events, through writing from a grateful standpoint, compared to other forms of writing (e.g., meaning-focused or fact-focused). Second, I intend to examine the benefits of grateful writing in specific life domains such as romantic relationships. Third, I plan to test the potential practical applications of this research by examining benefits of grateful writing for clinically depressed and socially anxious individuals.
In future, besides my current research, I plan to explore (a) the effects of positive psychological interventions, particularly gratitude, on the quality of romantic relationships, (b) the influence of gratitude on cognitive processes (e.g., self-conceptions and construction of a personal history across the life span), and (c) appraisals and experience of gratitude across cultures. After completing my Ph.D., I plan to pursue a career in academia where I can continue my research and teach.
102 Q Young Hall
Department of Psychology
One Shields Avenue
Davis CA 95616