My postdoctoral research is centered on SAGES (Study for the Advancement of Graduate Education and Scholarship), a first-of-its-kind longitudinal study of the day-to-day experiences of doctoral (Ph.D.) students. Under the direction of Jonathan Cook (Penn State), and in collaboration with Geoff Cohen (Stanford University), Valerie Purdie Greenaway (Columbia University), and Josh Smyth (Penn State), SAGES employs an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) approach to evaluate the day-to-day and moment-to-moment experiences of first-year Ph.D. students using smartphone-based surveys. These data will greatly improve understanding of the psychological factors, such as feelings of belonging and (overcoming) social identity threats, that contribute to positive student outcomes in graduate school. Data collection for the main phase of SAGES is underway, with the first cohort of EMA data collection scheduled to conclude in June 2019.
A secondary line of research, in collaboration with Joe Gladstone (University of Colorado Boulder), studies how financial spending and saving behaviors relate to subjective well-being. Using a combination of objective account data and survey responses from a sample of U.K. bank customers, my research examines whether financial variables such as bank account balances (Ruberton, Gladstone, & Lyubomirsky, 2016) and hedonic spending variety (Ruberton, Gladstone, Margolis, & Lyubomirsky, under review) are uniquely predictive of well-being. Future experimental research will test the effect of reframing how people think about their spending habits (e.g., to see them as highly varied vs. stable) on immediate life evaluations and mood.
My dissertation research focused on the causes and outcomes of state humility. (See Chancellor & Lyubomirsky, 2013, and Ruberton, Kruse, & Lyubomirsky, 2017, for more information about state humility.) As part of a grant from the John Templeton foundation, I developed and tested a long-term humility-boosting program, which built on three existing short-term humility interventions: affirming self-relevant values, experiencing gratitude, and practicing awe. In addition to my predoctoral studies on humility, I have a continuing line of research examining self-transcendent experiences such as awe (Nelson-Coffey, Ruberton, et al., under review).
When not trying to answer these questions, I can usually be found watching or reading/thinking about baseball, especially my hometown St. Louis Cardinals. (During the winter, when baseball is not in season, I can usually be found staring out the window and waiting for spring.)