Bridget A. Hearon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
210 Teel Hall
B.A., Psychology, Bryn Mawr College
M.A., Psychology, Boston University
Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Boston University
Clinical Internship, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Areas of Expertise
- Health Psychology/Behavioral Medicine
- Clinical Psychology
Areas of Research
My interests span both Clinical and Health Psychology. Clinical psychologists typically study the causes, predictors, assessment and treatment of mental illness. Health psychologists use a biopsychosocial model to better understand what makes individuals engage (or not) in health behaviors such as exercise, substance use, diet, and medication/treatment adherence. There is a great deal of overlap between these areas of psychology; however, health psychology differs from clinical in that outcomes are related to physical (e.g. viral load in HIV, cholesterol levels, blood glucose) rather than mental (e.g. symptoms of low mood and loss of interest associated with depression, panic attacks and tension associated with anxiety disorders) health.
Specific Projects/Areas of Interst Include:
- Anxiety Sensitivity, Eating and Exercise: Anxiety sensitivity, or the catastrophic interpretation of benign bodily sensations associated with the experience of anxiety, is used as a measure of distress intolerance and predicts avoidance-based coping behaviors. Within the health psychology literature, elevated anxiety sensitivity is associated with substance use, poor pain tolerance, and sleep difficulty. More recently, my work has extended these findings to overeating in the context of negative affect and avoidance of exercise. As anxiety sensitivity can be lowered relatively easily with behavioral treatment, the next step in my research is to add this behavioral treatment to existing diet and exercise plans to determine if it helps individuals become more successful and maintaining and losing weight.
- Halo Effects: A halo effect refers to a phenomenon whereby something that is unhealthy is perceived as being less unhealthy when paired with an impression/image of health. For example, if a large group of people is shown a picture of a bacon cheeseburger and asked to estimate the calories, the group mean may be 750 calories. However, if a second group of people is shown the same bacon cheeseburger paired with a side salad, the mean for calories shown is often lower (e.g., 700) even though the salad is actually adding calories to the meal. I am interested in moderators of this effect. That is, are certain types of individuals more likely to succumb to halo effects, and are there ways to intervene so that people do not overeat due to these calorie misperceptions?
- Effects of Exercise on Mood and Memory: A growing body of evidence suggests that regular physical activity can have significant mental health benefits in addition to improved physical health. Studies have demonstrated that programs of physical activity can be powerful supplements to or stand alone treatments for mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. In addition, exercise may enhance cognitive performance as well as hasten recovery from negative affect induced by traumatic memories. I am interested in determining ways to maximize the mental health and cognitive benefits of regular physical activity.
- Hearon, B.A., Garner, L., Beard, C., & Björgvinsson, T. (in press). Predictors of suicidality among patients with psychotic disorders in a partial hospital treatment program. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.
- Hearon, B.A., Pierce, C.L., Björgvinsson, T., Fitzmaurice, G.M., Greenfield, S.F., Weiss, R.D., & Busch, A.B. ( in press). Looking beyond primary care: A single- question screening testfor drug use disorders in a psychiatric treatment setting. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
- Kredlow, M.A., Capozzoli, M., Hearon, B.A., Calkins, A.W., & Otto, M.W. (in press). The effects of physical activity on sleep: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine.
- Moshier, S.J., Landau, A.J., Hearon, B.A., Stein, A.T., Greathouse, L.,Smits, J.A.J., & Otto, M.W. (in press). The development of a novel measure to assess motives for compensatory eating in response to exercise – The CEMQ. Behavioral Medicine.
- Hearon, B.A., Quatromoni, P.A., Mascoop, J.L. & Otto, M.W. (in press). The role of anxiety sensitivity in daily eating and exercise behavior. Eating Behaviors.
- Hearon, B.A., Utschig, A.C., Smits, J.A.J., Moshier, S.J., & Otto, M.W. (2013). The role of anxiety sensitivity and eating expectancy in maladaptive eating behavior. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37, 923-933.
Moshier, S.J., Hearon, B.A., Calkins, A.W., Szuhany, K. L., Utschig, A.C., Smits, J.A.J., & Otto, M.W. (2013). Clarifying the link between distress intolerance and exercise: Elevated anxiety sensitivity predicts less vigorous exercise. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 37, 476 -482.
- Calkins, A.W., Hearon, B.A., Capozzoli, M.C., & Otto, M.W. (2013). Psychosocial predictors of sleep dysfunction: The role of anxiety sensitivity, dysfunctional beliefs and neuroticism. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 11, 133 -143.
- Hearon, B. A., & Otto, M. W. (2012). Benzodiazepines. In S. G. Hofmann (Ed.). Psychobiological approaches for anxiety disorders: Treatment combination strategies (pp. 25-39). Wiley-Blackwell.
- McHugh, R. K., Hearon, B. A., Halperin, D. M., & Otto, M. W. (2011). A novel method for assessing distress intolerance: Adaptation of a measure of willingness to pay. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42, 440-446.
- Hearon, B.A., Calkins, A.W., Halperin, D., McHugh, R.K., Murray, H.W., & Otto, M.W. (2011) Anxiety sensitivity and sedative abuse among opiate dependent women and men. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 37, 43-47.
- Hearon, B.A., Beard, C., Lee, J., Otto, M.W. & Bjorgvinsson, T. (November, 2014). Comparison of two strategies for promoting exercise as an augmentation to CBT in a partial hospital program. Symposium accepted for presentation at the 48th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Szuhany, K. L., Hearon, B.A., Utschig, A.C., Mascoop, J.L., & Otto, M.W. (November, 2013). Moderators of eating in response to mood: Variable findings in the lab, at home, and when depressed. Symposium presented at the 47th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, Tennessee.
- Hearon, B.A., Litano, M, Mascoop, J., Quatromoni, P.A., & Otto, M.W. (November, 2012). Emotional eating: The role of anxiety sensitivity in naturalistic eating behaviors in the context of negative mood states. Symposium presented at the 46th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, National Harbor, Maryland.
- Hearon, B.A., McHugh, R.K., Calkins, A.W., Safren, S.A., Pollack, M.H., & Otto, M.W. (November, 2012). A treatment focus on distress intolerance for treatment refractory outpatients with opioid dependence. Symposium presented at the 46th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, National Harbor, Maryland.
- Hearon, B.A., Utschig, A.C., Moshier, S.J., Brierly, B.L., & Otto, M.W. (November, 2011). Anxiety sensitivity and maladaptive eating behavior: Self-report and behavioral outcomes. Symposium presented at the 45th annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Toronto, Canada.
- Hearon, B.A., Otto, M.W., Smits, J.A., & Presnell, K. (March, 2009). Anxiety sensitivity, exercise, and food cravings in overweight individuals. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- Psy100: General Psychology
- Psy200: Research Design and Analysis I
- Psy201: Research Design and Analysis II
- Psy210: Health Psychology
- Psy250: Theories of Personality
- Psy390: Adult Psychopathology