Sandy Lwi, PhD.
My primary research interests focus on understanding how the emotions we express and experience are associated with different psychosocial outcomes, and whether those associations are shaped by individual differences such as age, health, and cultural background. For example, my work with healthy aging adults has found that displaying sadness in response to the distress of others is linked to a sense of feeling more socially connected, while in people with dementia, relationships with their caregivers are strengthened when they express genuine positive emotions. Because emotions are a fundamental cornerstone in the architecture of our mental health, my research has also examined the outcomes associated with poor mental health. In some people, such as informal dementia caregivers, my research has found that poor mental health can increase the mortality risk of the loved ones they are caring for who have dementia. In older female veterans, my research indicates that poor mental health can increase one’s risk for cognitive disorders. The links between emotion, health, and psychosocial outcomes are still vastly under-explored, with even fewer studies examining these links through the lens of cultural differences. My future work will aim to try and fill some of those gaps. Thus far, I have addressed my research interests using a multi-faceted approach that includes facial coding, peripheral physiology, and subjective responses. I am currently expanding upon this skillset by learning MRI and EEG techniques, which I plan to utilize in my goal to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that undergird our emotions and our ability to live healthy, meaningful lives.
Lwi, S.J., Haase, C.M., Newton, S.L., Shiota, Michelle N., and Levenson, R.W. (2019). Responding to the emotions of others: Age differences in facial expressions and age-specific associations with relational connectedness. Emotion.
Lwi, S.J., Barnes, D.E., Xia, F., Peltz, C.B., Hoang, T., Yaffe, K. Ten-year prevalence of cognitive impairment diagnoses and associated medical and psychiatric conditions in a national cohort of older female veterans. (2019). American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 27(4). 417-425.
Verstaen, A., Haase, C.M., Lwi, S.J., Levenson, R.W. (2018). Age-related changes in emotional behavior: Evidence from a longitudinal study of long-term married couples. Emotion 26(4).
Lwi, S.J., Casey, J.J., Verstaen, A., Connelly, D., Merrilees, J., Levenson, R.W. (2018). Genuine smiles by patients’ during marital interactions are associated with better caregiver mental health. The Journal of Gerontology: Series B.
Brown, C.L., Lwi, S.J., Goodkind, M.S., Rankin, K.P., Merrilees, J., Miller, B.L., Levenson, R.W. (2018).Empathic accuracy deficits in patients with neurodegenerative disease: Association with caregiver depression. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 26(4). 484-493.
Ford, B.Q., Lwi, S.J, Gentzler, A., Hankin, B.L., Mauss, I.B. (2018). The cost of believing emotions are uncontrollable: Youths’ theories of implicit emotion predict emotion regulation and depressive symptoms. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 147(8). 1170.
Lwi, S.J., Ford, B.Q., Casey, J.J., Levenson, R.W. (2017). Poor mental health in caregivers of patients with neurodegenerative disease predicts patient mortality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114(28). 7319-7324.
Chen, K.H., Lwi, S.J., Hua, A.Y., Haase, C.M., Miller, B.L., Levenson, R.W. (2017). Increased subjective experience of non-target emotions in patients with frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 15. 77-84.
Edge, M.D., Lwi, S.J., Johnson, Sheri J. (2015). An assessment of emotional reactivity to frustration of goal pursuit in euthymic bipolar I disorder. Clinical Psychological Science. 3(6), 940-955.
For a full list, please visit: