This post is part of a series of interviews with our participants for the “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” 2017 Summer Seminar. Andrea Yetzer is earning her PhD in Psychology at Northwestern University. Valerie Wallace is Associate Director, Communications, for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.
Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?
Andrea Yetzer: I’m originally from Chicago, but currently live in Colorado Springs, CO for my Master’s program. I’ll actually be moving back to Chicago this fall to start my PhD program at Northwestern.
VW: Tell me about your research.
AY: My research framework stems from working in a terror management theory lab where I have focused on the relationship between morality and psychological equanimity. Prior to beginning my Master’s program, I worked with veterans in mental health at the Jesse Brown VA in Chicago. It is there that I came across research on the construct of moral injury—a trauma dimension that occurs from perpetrating, experiencing, or witnessing acts or events that violate deeply held moral values and beliefs; this experience is what drove my passion to research the role of morality in psychological functioning.
Currently, my research focuses on the self-regulatory processes of moral behavior and emotions, and how perseveration on failures to achieve moral behavioral standards may lead to moral injury. In doing this research, I have become fascinated with the almost ubiquitous role of morality–from religious and secular laws, to self-regulation, and to politics and intergroup relations. As I transition into my PhD program, my research will now focus on the more positive aspects of morality and how such worldviews can stimulate other-oriented moral emotions and motivate prosocial action.
VW: What are your non-academic interests?
AY: I’m really into a wide variety of music (Chicago house music, soul, Motown, hip-hop, etc.) and I used to frequent the Lyric Opera. I also love podcasts, going to baseball games (White Sox fan here), and you can be sure that my answer is always a ‘yes’ for karaoke. Before I entered grad school and fell out of “fighting shape,” I was pretty involved in obstacle course racing (e.g., Spartan Race, Tough Mudder) and team endurance events (GORUCK).
VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s seminar?
AY: What I am most looking forward to about this seminar is gaining knowledge from the moral philosophical framework of virtue and happiness, and how this may inform and/or strengthen my research. To be honest, I think all the seminars are going to be incredibly insightful and engaging, and I’m looking forward to meeting other scholars working in this area, and creating strong research networks!