UC Berkeley Mental Health research has a strong focus on emotion. We study emotion by measuring feelings, facial and vocal expressions, and bodily and brain responses. We also study the ways in which people learn to manage their emotions, (and the difficulties that arise when people have trouble managing their feelings) and the influences on emotion, such as the amount and quality of sleep one obtains.
Older views on emotions cast them as the opposite of reason and clear thinking. However, contemporary research shows that emotions help us solve problems in every day life, help us make good decisions, and can promote health and well-being. Our research seeks to find ways that emotion can be used in these health promoting ways.
Many of our research studies involve emotion. In schizophrenia, we are assessing symptoms that involve emotion difficulties, developing treatments that help to focus on positive emotions, and studying the ways in which emotions guide thinking. In sleep, we are interested in how managing emotions can help with sleeping difficulties and how poor sleep can contribute to problems relating to emotional functioning the next day. In bipolar disorder, we are interested in how emotions and goals can influence manic symptoms, and we are developing treatments to manage emotions. In families, we are studying how emotion develops and the ways in which families can promote healthy emotions and well-being. In ADHD, we study emotional (as well as family, peer, and biological) influences, and we also assess the role of emotions in attitudes toward mental illness.