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Dr. Wells' Lab

Behavior, Affect and Thinking Laboratory (BAT Lab)

The focus of the Behavior, Affect, & Thinking (BAT) lab at Oklahoma State University is the investigation of factors that are related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STB). Some broad questions the lab is interested in answering are:

  • How does suicidal thinking influence other suicide-relevant cognitive processes (e.g., attention, self-referential judgments)?
  • Can we use suicide-relevant cognitive processes to improve the detection or prediction of STB?
  • Can we leverage benign cognitive biases to increase the use of STB prevention strategies like the suicide lifeline and firearm safe storage practices?
  • How can we help firearm owners reduce suicide risk through responsible safe storage and means safety?
  • How can screening for suicide be improved?
  • What is the relationship between social media use, mood, and STB?

In particular, I am interested in the way that people attend to and process suicide-relevant information and how this may be relevant to the identification and prediction of STBs. I am also interested in safe storage and means safety for firearms and suicide screening broadly. In my research, I utilize eye tracking (I have a Tobii in the lab) as well as tasks involving reaction time, affect misattribution, behavioral economics, etc. We also collect data through ecological momentary assessment (EMA).

Join Our Lab

The primary quality I look for in a graduate student is interest in, and enthusiasm for, research. I also look for a good match between an applicant's research interests and my research interests. Graduate school can be a trying experience. If you are not interested in your research it will make graduate school that much more difficult. My own experiences as a graduate student (in two different graduate programs), and as a faculty member, have convinced me that the match between a student's interest and the advisor/mentor's interests contributes substantially to a student's happiness and productivity in graduate school. My advice to applicants (regardless of whether they are applying to work with me or not) is to develop an understanding of your own interests and to apply to work with professors whose research is a good match for your interests. Other general factors I look for include: initiative, motivation, analytical thinking, cognitive flexibility, and openness to feedback.


Gaining research experience as a research assistant or a lab coordinator after obtaining your undergraduate degree can often be an excellent way to help refine your research interests. It also shows dedication, interest, and enthusiasm for research. While I certainly consider applications from applicants who have yet to obtain their undergraduate degree, post-baccalaureate research experience can only make you a more competitive candidate.



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