Thomas Harriot College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Psychology
Matthew C. Whited, PhD
Office: Rawl 239
104 Rawl Building
Department of Psychology
East Carolina University
Greenville, NC 27858-4353
Post-doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Medicine Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine (2012)
PhD, Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University (2009)
MS, Clinical Psychology, West Virginia University (2007)
BA, Psychology (2nd major Biology), Indiana University of Pennsylvania (2003)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the result of a combination of modifiable health behaviors, environment, and genetic makeup and takes several decades to manifest itself before an individual begins to suffer impairment from this very common class of diseases. We know that various psychological factors are associated with CVD including depression, hostility, et cetera. My research focuses on efforts to understand the relations between behavioral/psychological factors and CVD so that I can help to design interventions to modify health behaviors and psychological factors in order to reduce the impact of, and risk for, CVD.
Currently I am most interested in understanding the complex and interrelated mechanisms of the connection between symptoms of depression and CVD. To do this, I am studying the psychophysiology of depression and related factors, and the relation between depression treatment and CVD risk. My goal is to use this research to inspire targeted behavioral interventions that reduce depressive symptoms and contribute to efforts to prevent/postpone cardiovascular disease. The Happy Heart ECU study is the current manifestation of this work, in addition to various student-lead projects listed below.
One of the most important classes of health behaviors impacting people today are those that contribute to obesity and weight management. It is nearly impossible to study depression and CVD prevention without investigating the contribution of obesity to CVD. Because of this, much of my current work involves collaborating with other investigators across the country to investigate the environmental, behavioral, and psychological barriers (especially depression) to successful weight loss.
The Cardiovascular Psychophysiology Laboratory
We maintain a very active physical laboratory space that consists of my own graduate students, Dr. D. Erik Everhart's Cognitive Neuroscience laboratory, a rotating cast of undergraduate research assistants, and occasionally ECU Clinical Health Psychology graduate students from other labs. In the lab, we study the influence of behavioral and psychological factors on individuals' psychophysiological responses to stress. My graduate students and I also collaborate with researchers and treatment providers across ECU, most prominently the Vidant Hospital Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
In addition to Thesis and Dissertation projects, we maintain a lab group project that is investigating the influence of mood and health behaviors on overweight and obesity among college students. This is an ongoing data collection which we modify annually based on our results and new developments in the literature at large.
I am accepting additional students into the lab as part of the Clinical Health Psychology doctoral program for the 2017-2018 academic year. Applications will be due December 1 of 2016. I encourage interested students to thoroughly investigate the Clinical Health Psychology concentration of the Health Psychology PhD program here and to contact me with any additional questions about my lab and my work.
Student Research Projects and Interests
Ansley Taylor Corson is a third-year graduate student who earned her BA from Converse College in Psychology and Philosophy in 2014. Her thesis project involves investigating the relations between adaptive and maladaptive perfectionism, BIS/BAS, and heart rate variability.Taylor Freeman is a third-year student who earned his BA in Psychology and BS in Biomedical Sciences from the University of South Florida in 2014. His thesis project involves investigating how depression and other psychosocial variables affect attendance and completion rates in a cardiovascular rehabilitation program.