Dr. Osterman's Research Lab

Research Interests

Dr. Osterman's primary interests are at the intersection of social psychology and evolutionary theory. Specific topics in which she is currently interested in investigating include:

  • Parasocial relationships (i.e., one-sided relationships with TV personalities)
  • Interpersonal rejection
  • Suicide and self-destructive behavior
  • Aggression and violence
  • Prosocial behavior

What Dr. Osterman is looking for in a Research Assistant

Although she will consider every student individually for a research position, here are some general guidelines for Dr. Osterman's preferences for research students:

  • Work Study Research Assistants
    • GPA: 2.0 or higher
    • Classification: Any
    • Classwork: No requirements
    • Preferred skills: Experience with Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word); familiarity with library resources and performing lit searches
  • Research Experience Students
    • GPA: 2.0 or higher
    • Classification: Any
    • Classwork: No requirements
    • Preferred skills: Experience with Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word) and SPSS; familiarity with library resources and performing lit searches
  • Research Practicum Students
    • GPA: 2.5 or higher
    • Classification: Sophomore or higher
    • Classwork: PSYC 202 or 204 required; PSYC 251 (Social Psychology) or 381 (Evolutionary Psychology) preferred
    • Preferred skills: Experience with Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word) and SPSS; familiarity with library resources and performing lit searches
  • Independent Study Students
    • GPA: 3.0 or higher
    • Classification: Junior or higher
    • Classwork: PSYC 202 and 204 required; PSYC 251 (Social Psychology) or 381(Evolutionary Psychology) preferred
    • Preferred skills: Experience with Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word) and SPSS strongly preferred; familiarity with library resources and performing lit searches ; strong writing skills
    • *Students interested in pursuing an independent study should send a query outlining a research idea or question that they are interested in investigating.      

Current and Past Research  

During her time in graduate school, Dr. Osterman's research primarily focused on the "culture of honor" and its influence on interpersonal violence (e.g., school shootings, militant responses to terrorism), and she also conducted some work on forgiveness. In her last two years of school, she transitioned into research on suicide. She authored one publication on the culture of honor and its contribution to suicidal behavior and depression, and completed her dissertation on an evolutionary theory of suicidal behavior. She is currently preparing the latter project for publication.  

Currently, Dr. Osterman has two primary lines of research. First, she is extending her dissertation work by examining questions regarding gender and suicidal behavior from an evolutionary perspective, as well as examining individual differences that contribute to a vulnerability to depression and suicidality (again, within an evolutionary theoretical framework).  

Second, she is working on several projects that extend the current social psychological literature on "parasocial relationships," or relationships that people form with television personalities. In particular, she is interested in relationships with fictional characters in television programs, and the extent to which these relationships are, in form and function, similar to flesh-and-blood interpersonal relationships.   

Recent Publications

  • Brown, R. P., Imura, M., & Osterman, L. L. (2014). Gun culture: Mapping a peculiar preference for firearms in the commission of suicide. Basic & Applied Social Psychology, 36(2), 164-175.
  • Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. L. (2012). Don't tread on me: Masculine honor ideology in the U.S. and militant responses to terrorism. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(8), 1018-1029.
  • Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. L. (2012). Culture of honor, violence, and homicide. In T. Shackelford, V. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War (pp. 218-232). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Osterman, L. L. & Brown, R. P. (2011). Culture of honor and violence against the self. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(12), 1611-1623.
  • Barnes, C. D., Carvallo, M., Brown, R. P. & Osterman, L. L. (2010). Forgiveness and the need to belong. Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 1148-1160.
  • Barnes, C. D., Brown, R. P., & Osterman, L. L. (2009). Protection, payback, or both? Emotional and motivational mechanisms underlying avoidance by victims of transgressions. Motivation & Emotion, 33, 400-411.
  • Brown, R. P., Osterman, L. L., & Barnes, C. D. (2009). School violence and the culture of honor. Psychological Science, 20(11), 1400-1405.

Recent Conference Presentations

  • Osterman, L. L., & Brown, R. P. (2014, January). A kin selection model of suicide risk. Poster presented at the Roanoke College Faculty Professional Life Conference, Salem, VA.
  • Menotti, S., Brewer, A., & Osterman, L. L. (2013, April). Oxytocin as a mitigator of aggression. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Psychological Society, Edmond, OK.
  • Leaf, B., Murray, S., & Osterman, L. L. (2013, April) Pre-performance power statement usage on collegiate male hockey athletes. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, La Crosse, WI.
  • Osterman, L. L., & Brown, R. P. (2013, January). A kin selection model of suicide risk. Poster presented at the Evolutionary Psychology Preconference at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.
  • Osterman, L. L., & Brown, R. P. (2010, January). Culture of honor and suicide. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, Las Vegas, NV.
  • Osterman, L. L., & Brown, R. P. (2009, February). The ecology of vengeance: Culture of honor as a predictor of school violence. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, Tampa, FL.  

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