Public Release: 

There's an app for that

Grant funds development of psychological support app for military personnel

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

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IMAGE: Caption: Northern Arizona University professors Heidi Wayment (left) and Ann Huffman (right) share their ideas for the new smartphone app with NAU ROTC cadets. view more 

Credit: Photo Northern Arizona University

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) is pleased to announce that SIOP member Dr. Ann Huffman and her Northern Arizona University colleague Dr. Heidi Wayment were recently awarded a $1.4 million Department of Defense grant for their research on Psychological Health and Resilience of Military Personnel.

The Huffman-Wayment project is a response to many calls for the development of psychological health interventions for military personnel. The long-range goal of their work is to improve the quality of life for military personnel.

It is widely recognized that military personnel face ongoing stressors including separation from family and frequent relocation, along with everyday work and family stressors. When their coping resources fall short, military personnel are at risk for negative personal and occupational health outcomes including anxiety, sleep disturbance, and unhealthy behaviors.

One of the products of the research grant is a self-management intervention app. The researchers describe the phone-based intervention as a dynamic form of self-management that will improve behavioral outcomes, health, and resilience among military personnel as they cope with stressors in different military environments and in different phases of the stress process.

The research project includes a multi-phased study, which begins with an experimental examination of how well the use of a self-management intervention strengthens personal and occupational resources in a military occupational setting. The project will conclude with a large-scale experiment assessing the effectiveness of the intervention.

The intervention adapts research on the "quiet ego", a concept developed by Wayment and Bauer in 2008 that borrows heavily from humanistic, organismic, and eudemonic perspectives on the self. The quiet ego reflects growth and balance values, as reflected in an identity that is not excessively self-focused but also not excessively other-focused--an identity that incorporates others without losing the self. Previous research has demonstrated numerous benefits of a quiet ego, including personal growth and a greater compassion for the self and others (Wayment et al., 2015).

The brief, non-religious, self-management intervention app Huffman and Wayment are developing is based on the quiet ego theory and reminds individuals of the characteristics of a self-identity rooted in balance and growth (Wayment & Bauer, 2017). Unlike other popular interventions (e.g., mindfulness), this approach may be more amenable to work-related stressors (Huffman, Irving, Wayment, 2015).

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Ann Huffman is a Professor of Psychological Sciences and Management at Northern Arizona University. Ann received her Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Texas A&M University in 2004. Prior to Texas A&M University, Ann worked as a principal investigator with the Walter Reed Army Research Institute-Europe. Ann's primary research interests include the work-life interface, high stress occupations, occupational health, and diversity in the workplace. Ann has published numerous research articles in journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, and Human Resource Management. Ann has received grants from Society for Human Resource Management Foundation, the Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Small Grant and the Department of Defense to support her research. She was awarded the 2009 Northern Arizona University Most Promising New Scholar Award, 2012 Social and Behavioral Sciences Career Milestone Award and was selected as a 2007-2008 Sloan Early Career Work-Family Scholar.

Heidi Wayment is a Professor of Psychological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, receiving her PhD in Social Psychology and Health Psychology from UCLA in 1992. Heidi is a fellow of the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Association of Psychological Sciences, and the Western Psychological Association. Her research on the quiet ego has been supported by Arizona TRIF foundation and her work on the quiet ego was awarded the 2018 Northern Arizona University Award for Most Significant Research/Scholarly Work. Heidi's work has been supported with NSF, NIH, NIMH, HRSA/AMERSA, and NCAA/DOD funding and she has published widely in the areas of stress and coping, self-identity, sports psychology, and health behavior, with a special emphasis on psychosocial predictors that can inform prevention and intervention efforts. Dr. Wayment has a longstanding interest in understanding how issues related to self-identity can influence behavior and coping. Heidi was awarded the SBS Exceptional Service Award in 2015 for work on SBS Compassion project and the NAU President's Award in 2008 for service to the Department of Psychological Sciences.

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