Rodika Research Papers

Assistant Professor
Social Psychology
Ph.D., University of California, Davis

Heyne Building, Room 103B
ridamian [at] uh [dot] edu
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Biographical Summary

Dr. Rodica Damian is an Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Houston. Her current research examines the role of diversifying experiences, life events, and personality by social context interactions on personality development, and downstream consequences for creativity, status attainment, and well-being. Dr. Damian studies these topics using multiple methods ranging from controlled laboratory experiments to large longitudinal studies that track people's lives and real-world outcomes over time. She collaborates on this research with colleagues across North America and Europe.

Dr. Damian has published more than 20 scientific papers and chapters so far, including several articles in international peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Journal of Research in Personality, and Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Research Interests

My research program is dedicated to understanding the precursors of status attainment, creative achievement, and well-being. In doing so, I use a person-by-situation interaction framework, where I examine the interplay of life experiences, social background factors, and individual differences, with a focus on the underlying cognitive and developmental processes. In particular, I am interested in diversifying experiences, which include both adverse and diverse life experiences, such as poverty and multiculturalism, respectively. I seek to understand how diversifying experiences, contribute to personality development, career success, and well-being, and why some people are better than others at coping with adversity and using diversity to their advantage.

For a more detailed list of research questions and current projects, click here.

Prospective Graduate Students

I am looking for highly motivated graduate students to join my team starting Fall 2016.

Are you curious which factors promote success, creativity, and happiness? How life experiences and social contexts shape our personalities and change us over time? Why some people thrive against all odds, while others are crushed by the weight of their misfortune? And how we can benefit from diversity in today’s globalizing world?

If you want to join my lab in this exciting scientific quest, then apply for admission to the Social Psychology program at the University of Houston. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Selected Publications

Damian, R. I., & Roberts, B. W. (2015). The associations of birth order with personality and intelligence in a representative sample of U.S. high school students. Journal of Research in Personality. Online first: 10.1016/j.jrp.2015.05.005

Damian, R. I., & Simonton, D. K. (2015). Psychopathology, adversity, and creativity: Diversifying experiences in the development of eminent African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108, 623-636. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000011

Damian, R. I., Su, R., Shanahan, M., Trautwein, U., Roberts, B. (2014).Can personality traits and intelligence compensate for background disadvantage? Predicting status attainment in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Online first: 10.1037/pspp0000024

Damian, R. I., & Robins, R. W. (2013). Aristotle’s virtue or Dante’s deadliest sin? The pride-creativity link and the mediating role of motivation. Learning and Individual Differences, 26, 156-160. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2012.06.001

Damian, R. I., & Sherman, J. W. (2013). A process dissociation examination of cognitive processes underlying unconscious thought. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 228-237. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.10.018

Pozzebon, J., Damian, R. I., Hill, P., Lin, Y., Roberts, B., & Lapham, S. (2013). Establishing the validity and reliability of the Project Talent Personality Inventory. Frontiers in Psychology—Personality Science and Individual Differences, 4, 968. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00968

Saad, C. S., Damian, R. I., Benet-Martinez, V., Moons, W. G., & Robins, R. W. (2013). Multiculturalism and creativity: Effects of cultural context, bicultural identity, and cognitive fluency. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 369-375. doi: 10.1177/1948550612456560

Damian, R. I., & Robins, R. W. (2012). The link between dispositional pride and creative thinking depends on current mood. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 765-769. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2012.07.003

Ritter, S. M., Damian, R. I., Simonton, D. K., van Baaren, R., Strick, M., Derks, J., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2012). Diversifying experiences enhance cognitive flexibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 961-964. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.009

Damian, R. I., & Simonton, D. K. (2011). From past to future art: The creative impact of Picasso’s 1935 Minotauromachy on his 1937 Guernica. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 5, 360-369. doi: 10.1037/a0023017

To increase the positive energy in your office space, and be more productive as a result, consider taking advantage of feng shui. This is the ancient art of aligning our external world to support our internal journey, explains Lorrie Webb Grillo, certified feng shui practitioner and owner of Thriving Spaces Feng Shui.

“Feng shui operates around us whether we’re conscious of it or not,” she says.

Grillo points out a feng shui office:

  • Supports you mentally and physically
  • Enhances your financial goals
  • Serves your current needs and goals while keeping you open to future possibilities

Consider these simple options from experts to create better feng shui:

1. Love your desk. Grillo advises treating yourself to a desk that is the right height, constructed of material you admire, and shaped to allow easy access to everything you need.

She also recommends positioning it thoughtfully.

“Place your desk in the ‘command’ or ‘power’ position,” she advises. “You’ll feel safe, comfortable and primed for work.”

The power position ensures you can:
• See the doorway
• Avoid energy flow from the door
• Have a solid wall behind you and another barrier at the side

2. Banish clutter. Feng shui consultant Rodika Tchi cited the old adage “a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind,” in The Spruce [1].

“This does not mean you have to go Zen with nothing on your desk,” she says.

But it does mean only having items on it that you’re working on that day.

“Let your desk breathe,” recommends Tchi.

Grillo advises using open and closed storage to mitigate clutter. Open storage, such as bookshelves, invites new energy (like future clients). Closed storage keeps work confidential and secure.

Of course, take advantage of law practice management software so you can store client and matter information in the cloud to significantly reduce the need for paper files while simultaneously improving your organization and workflow processes.

The recommendation to de-clutter is supported by the Journal of Neuroscience, which reports [2], in essence, that a cluttered environment restricts ability to focus.

3. Add some healthy plants. They help clean the air to make breathing easier, and add life and vibrance, Feng shui consultant Laura Benko explains in Entrepreneur [3]. She says bamboo and philodendrons are good choices.

“Plants are a great way to fill in a corner, soften angles, or circulate energy,” adds Grillo.
This, too, is supported by research. The University of Exeter carried out an experiment which revealed that office plants can assist in:

• Boosting staff well being 47%
• Improving creativity 45%
• Increasing productivity 38%

4. Surround yourself with images and objects that uplift. This can include photos of loved ones, artwork you love, cards or pictures from your children, or other special mementos. Be thoughtful about what you select, notes Benko. She recalls a client who displayed a vacation photo and, while it appeared idyllic, it captured a stressful time.

“Subconsciously, she was feeling the stress and anxiety of that moment,” says Benko.

5. Decorate with cool tones. Benko warns that bold colors, especially reds and oranges, can promote anxiety and aggression.

“Offices that use this color will make you want to leave early,” she says.

Instead, she advises using:
• Pale green to inspire creativity
• Blue to promote calmness
• Gray to promote sophistication

Even if you’re so time-strapped that you don’t have a second to spare, take advantage of these simple tips for a once-and-done fix that will set the stage for a more productive, happier law office for you and your clients.

Want to bring that productivity into every aspect of your practice? Take a quick look at our Matter Management Checklist for Overworked Attorneys.

1. Tchi, Rodika. “Feng Shui Office Case Study.” The Spruce, Feb. 15, 2017.
2. McMains, Stephanie and Kastner, Sabine. “Interactions of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Mechanisms in Human Visual Cortex.” The Journal of Neuroscience, Jan. 12, 2011
3. Evans, Lisa. “Feng Shui and the Successful Entrepreneur.” Entrepreneur, Sept. 21, 2012.
4. University of Exeter. “Office Plants Boost Well Being at Work.” July 9, 2013


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