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Psychology professor researching the ‘damage control’ health habits of students


GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Assistant Professor of Psychology Kristel Gallagher, Ph.D., is researching compensatory health beliefs as a part of the Greenville Neuromodulation Center (GNC) Faculty/Student Research Institute.

Her research project, “‘Damage Control’—A Pilot Study to Investigate the Use of Compensatory Health Beliefs in First-Generation College Students,” looks at psychological mechanisms in students that allow them to be aware of healthy behaviors while simultaneously participating in unhealthy ones.

“My hope is that the data collected as part of this project can be used to better inform those providing resources to these students, both at Thiel College and beyond,” Gallagher said. “It would be ideal to develop an intervention strategy to target them early in the process of forming and acting upon compensatory health beliefs. The data from this study could be used to develop such a program at Thiel College where we have a large number of first-generation students.”

Gallagher received her master’s degree in 2009 and doctorate in 2012 in experimental social and health psychology from Kent State University. She began teaching at Thiel College in the fall of 2015. Her research expertise centers around the study of motivating people to live healthy lives. Gallagher has been published in some of the top journals in her field and has also presented her work at various national and international academic conferences. She hopes that the data collected this summer will aid in the development of future projects involving student researchers.

In 2015, Thiel College alumni Fred Haer ’65 and his wife, Jill (Shackett) ’66, pledged more than $400,000 to fund the GNC Faculty/Student Research Institute from 2015-2017. It is open to all Thiel College faculty members and focuses on connecting science and the liberal arts. In its second year, six other research projects are a part of the institute.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and remains committed to combining tradition with innovation.

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