The Healthy Living and Learning (H2L) lab at UMD examines the intersection of psychology with health and learning. Our research employs a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, including delivery of interventions to encourage healthy living or deeper learning, meta-analytic systematic reviews of existing research, and longitudinal and cross-sectional survey based research designs. A primary emphasis within the lab is placed upon how self-regulation affects mental and physical health among a variety of populations (e.g., emerging adults/college students, adults, athletes). In particular, we examine how various psychological needs (competence, relatedness, autonomy) and motives for the health behaviors (e.g., eating and physical activity) are associated with well-being, quality of life, and weight management. A corollary of this work has been to study motivational processes or attentional focus during exercise and sports. More recently, we have begun to also investigate how pedagogical strategies, self-regulation and metacognition, as well as misconceptions (e.g., psychological myths) may influence student learning.
A goal of the H2L lab is to give students opportunities to become actively involved in the research, from the development of research questions or data collection and analyses to conference presentations or writing of manuscripts, with the aim of training students to become engaged critical thinkers and future scholars. Past members of the lab have gone on to doctorate programs in psychology, graduate training in public health, and mental health providers (seeking LPCC). Opportunities exist for both undergraduate and graduate students who have interests in clinical-counseling, health, or sport psychology. If you are interested in joining the H2L lab, please complete the Google Form below and contact Drs. Lara (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Rick LaCaille (email@example.com).
Current or Recent Projects:
College students and division I - III athletes wellbeing and coping during Covid-19
Body (dis)satisfaction, internalized weight bias, and eating regulation within the context of Self-Determination Theory
Go/No-Go training on weight loss, food evaluation, and disinhibition
Meta-analysis of physical activity interventions for caregivers
Longitudinal investigations of well-being and health habits among undergraduate and graduate students
Intuitive eating and appetite awareness training
Complementary health approaches among college students
Mental illness stigma in psychology classes
Examination of psychological misconceptions/myths and their correction
H2L Lab News & Highlights
March 2023: Hannah Appleseth (recent H2L/MAPS graduate) published her thesis/Plan B in the Journal of American College Health: Changes in basic psychological needs, passion, and well-being of first-semester graduate students. Listed as co-authors are Lara and Rick LaCaille, and two UMD faculty colleagues. Congrats, Hannah!
January 2023: The lab presented work at NITOP (National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology) on the teaching of Abnormal Psychology (The teaching of undergraduate Abnormal Psychology: A national survey; Teaching Abnormal Psychology: A content analysis of course catalogs across programs ) as well as students' engagement and academic burnout during COVID-19 (Longitudinal findings during COVID-19: Student engagement and academic burnout).
September 2022: Elaine Marshall (recent H2L/MAPS graduate) published her thesis/Plan B in Health Psychology (flagship journal for APA's Division 38 - Health Psychology): Effects of physical activity interventions for caregivers of adults: A meta-analysis. Listed as co-authors are Rick and Lara LaCaille, June Lee (faculty colleague in the Department of Applied Human Sciences), and Emily Peterson (recent H2L lab member). Way to go, Elaine!
August 2022: Dakota Leget successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Self-Determination Theory as a Framework for an Early Model of Internalized Weight Bias. Dakota enrolled in the clinical and health psychology doctoral program at the University of Florida, beginning the fall 2022 Congrats, Dakota!
August 2022: Several current and recent H2L lab members (Dakota Leget, Elaine Marshall, Emily Rechtzigel, Emily Peterson, and Sam Benzing) presented research at this year's American Psychological Association's conference, August 4 - 6. The following studies were presented: 1) College Students’ Health Behaviors and Well-being: Longitudinal Data during COVID-19, 2) Well-being of Caregivers: Meta-analysis of Physical Activity Interventions, and 3) Coping Style Mediates Internalized Weight Bias’ Effects on Mental Health. Dakota (and Lara) also organized and participated with several scholars in a symposium: Weight Stigma: Mechanisms, Health Consequences, and Next Steps.
July 2022: Rick LaCaille coauthored an editorial of a special section, Introduction to the Special Section: Approaches to Understanding and Increasing Physical Activity, in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
June 2022: Three H2L lab members (Dakota Leget, Emily Rechtzigel, and Sam Benzing) participated in presenting research at this year's virtual International Conference on Eating Disorders conference, June 9 - 10. The following studies were presented: 1) Internalized Weight Bias and Body Dissatisfaction: Are These Distinct Constructs?, and 2) Body Satisfaction, Weight Control Behaviors, and Mental Health in College Students During COVID-19: A Longitudinal Study.
March 2022: Lara and Rick LaCaille coauthored, with a student first author and another colleague, the paper A Naturalistic Analysis of Mental Illness Stigma in Undergraduate Psychology Courses published in Teaching of Psychology.
January 2022: Lara and Rick LaCaille (and two faculty colleagues) were awarded a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Grant from the American Psychological Association's Division 2 – Society for the Teaching of Psychology (http://teachpsych.org/) for 2022 to study how Abnormal Psychology is taught on campuses across the country as well as the recent trend to refer to the course by different titles. The research team has started to review course catalogs at a variety of colleges and will eventually examine course textbooks and survey instructors.
December 2021: Emi Jansen successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: The Effect of Go/No-Go Training Dosage on Weight Loss, Food Evaluation, and Disinhibition in Primarily Overweight and Obese Individuals: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Emi enrolled in the clinical health psychology doctoral program at East Carolina University, in the fall 2021 Congrats, Emi!
November 2021: Lara and Rick LaCaille, Elaine Marshall (recent H2L lab member), and colleagues published the paper Change in Perceived Stress and Health Behaviors of Emerging Adults in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
October 2021: Hannah Appleseth successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Motivational Goals, Needs, and Passion for Graduate Education: A Longitudinal Examination of the Prediction of Academic Burnout, Well-being, and Health. Hannah enrolled in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Oklahoma State University, beginning of fall 2021. Congrats, Hannah!
October 2021: The H2L Lab gave the invited talk entitled: College, Coping, and COVID, oh my! at the Coffee and Conversation Colloquium (UMD).
September 2021: Rick LaCaille coauthored a chapter To refute or not refute, that is the question: The case for creating myth debunking posters with psychology students in the Society for the Teaching of Psychology's Psychological Myths, Mistruths and Misconceptions: Curriculum-based Strategies for Knowledge Change. http://teachpsych.org/ebooks/mythsmistruths
June 2021: Elaine Marshall successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Examination of the Effectiveness of Physical Activity Interventions on the Wellbeing of Caregivers of Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis. Excellent work, Elaine!
May 2021: Hannah McCarthy successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: An Intuitive Eating Intervention for Healthy Living Among University Employees. She graduated with her M.A. and plans to enroll in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology (DC campus) in the fall 2021. Congrats, Hannah!
April 2021: Several H2L lab members (Hannah Lewis, Dakota Leget, Hannah Appleseth, Elaine Marshall, Emi Jensen, Emily Rechtzigel, and Emily Peterson) attended and participated in presenting research at this year's virtual Midwestern Psychological Association conference April 22 - 24. The following studies were presented: 1) Perceived Parenting Styles and Need Fulfillment on Emerging Adults' Well-Being, 2) Social Media Use, Physical Activity, and Mental Health during COVID-19, and 3) Graduate Student Wellbeing in the Midst of a Pandemic. Way to go!
April 2021: Urvashi Dixit presented her thesis Eating Regulation Within the Context of Self-Determination Theory at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference. Urvashi also plans to enroll in the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University South Alabama in the fall 2021. Awesome work, Urvashi!
March 2021: Lara LaCaille coauthored the paper Empathic Communication Skills Across Applied Undergraduate Psychology Courses: A Replication Study published in Teaching of Psychology.
December 2020: Rick and Lara LaCaille, and Stephanie Hooker (former UMD bulldog) published the paper Using Self-Determination Theory to Understand Eating Behaviors and Weight Change in Emerging Adults in the journal, Eating Behaviors.
May 2020: Urvashi Dixit successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Eating Regulation Within the Context of Self-Determination Theory. She graduated with her M.A. and began working with MAPS Behavioral Health. Congrats, Urvashi!
May 2020: Erika Damsgard successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: An Experimental Examination of Misconception Corrections Across Health Domains and Potential Backfire Effect. She graduated with her M.A. and began working with MAPS Behavioral Health . Congrats, Erika!
May 2020: Hannah Appleseth, Elaine Marshall, and Rick and Lara LaCaille presented work on psychological need satisfaction and thwarting in the context of physical activity at APS (Association for Psychological Science)
April 2020: Urvashi Dixit, Emily Jansen, Katelyn Melcher, Hailey Ellingson, Hannah Lewis, Jenna Murphy, Lara LaCaille, and Rick LaCaille presented work Role of Psychological Needs and Self-Regulation with Food Addiction Symptoms; Erika Damsgaard and Rick and Lara LaCaille presented An Experimental Examination of Misconception Corrections Across Health Domains at SBM (Society of Behavioral Medicine) .
January 2020: Elaine Marshall, Hannah Appleseth and Rick LaCaille published papers on the psychosocial benefits of physical activity and intervention strategies to promote physical activity in the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine.
December 2019: A write-up in the Duluth News Tribune about the longitudinal study on students' weight change: https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/education/4783802-UMD-research-targets-the-freshman-15. Some coverage of the study by UMD's student run paper the Bark: https://www.thebarkumd.com/news/2019/10/4/taking-a-scientific-look-at-the-freshman-15?rq=freshman%20fifteen. And some coverage by CEHSP: https://cehsp.d.umn.edu/articles/lacailles-firstyear-student-study.
October 2019: Amy Maslowski and Rick and Lara LaCaille published the paper A systematic review and meta-analysis of mental health first aid outcomes of controlled studies in the Mental Health Review Journal.
September 2019: Rick and Lara LaCaille, and Amy Maslowski published the paper Metacognition, course performance, and perceived competence for learning: An examination of quiz and exam wrappers in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology.
September 2019: Rick and Lara LaCaille, Erika Damsgard and Amy Maslowski published the paper Refuting mental health misconceptions: A quasi-experiment with abnormal psychology courses in the Psychology Learning and Teaching.
August 2019: Erika Damsgard, Amy Maslowski, Lara LaCaille, and Rick LaCaille presented work on debunking mental health myths at APA's Division 2 (Society for the Teaching of Psychology) session . Amy Maslowski also presented her work on MHFA at APA's Division 27 (Division of Community Psychology).
May 2019: Urvashi Dixt, Katelyn Melcher, Claire Guidinger (former student), Lara LaCaille, and Rick LaCaille presented work examining need satisfaction/frustration and weight control at SDT (Self-Determination Theory) .
January 2019: Rick LaCaille and Stephanie Hooker (former student) published the chapter Physical Activity and Health in the Handbook of Health Psychology.
May 2018: Amy Maslowski successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Examination of the Effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid Among the Public: A Meta-Analysis. She enrolled in the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of North Dakota in the following fall.
January 2018: Rick LaCaille, Lara LaCaille, and Amy Maslowski presented work on metacognition and exam/quiz wrappers at NITOP (National Institute on the Teaching of Psychology) .
May 2017: Claire Guidinger successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: Appetite Awareness Training as a Weight Gain Prevention Intervention for Young Adult Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. She enrolled in the counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Oregon in the following fall.
March 2017: Lara LaCaille, Claire Guidinger, Lauren Vieaux (former student), Brooke Collins, Courtney Clark, and Rick LaCaille presented work examining appetite awareness at SBM (Society of Behavioral Medicine) . Hannah Lamert (former student) presented research from her Plan B.
May 2016: Lauren Vieaux successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: A Brief Appetite Awareness Intervention for Eating and Weight Regulation Among College Freshmen: A Randomized Clinical Trial. She obtained her LPCC in Minnesota and is practicing as a mental health professional.
May 2016: Hannah Lammert successfully defended her Plan B/thesis: The Freshman Fifteen and Beyond: A Meta-Analysis. She enrolled in the clinical psychology (health psychology track) doctoral program at Pacific University the following fall.
Application for Research
Complete the Google Form: