Michael J. Poulin


Michael Poulin.

Michael J. Poulin


Michael J. Poulin


Research Interests

Prosocial motivation; meaning; physical and psychological adjustment to stress and trauma

Contact Information

351 Park Hall

Buffalo NY, 14260-4110

Phone: (716) 645-0518



  • PhD, University of California - Irvine

Current Research

A unifying theme in my research is that of responding to adversity. Research in my Stress, Coping, and Prosocial Engagement (SCoPE Lab) investigates this theme in two ways: by investigating the processes by which people respond to the adversity of others, and by examining the resources through which people manage their own adversity. Our research on responses to the adversity of others, or prosocial engagement, focuses on the concepts of empathy and compassion, and seeks to provide detailed understandings of these phenomena, especially by understanding the ways in which acting empathically or with compassion involve navigating the tension between self- and other-focused goals. Our research on how people manage their own adversity, or research on stress and coping, has uncovered diverse phenomena that can serve as coping resources. However, much of our work focuses on the ways in which prosocial engagement itself can serve as a stress buffer, including by reducing self-focus and lessening the effects of stress on health outcomes.

Selected Publications

  • DeLury, S. S., Buffone, A. E. K., Ministero, L. M., & Poulin, M. J. (in press). Compassion is partially selfless:  Public self-concept accessibility following compassion and threat. Self and Identity.
  • Acevedo, B. P., Poulin, M. J., & Brown, L. L. (in press). Beyond romance: Neural and genetic correlates of altruism in pair-bonds. Behavioral Neuroscience.
  • Morrison, C. D., Poulin, M. J., & Holman, E. A. (in press). Gender, genes, and the stress-buffering benefits of "home": Evidence from two national U.S. studies. Journal of Environmental Psychology.
  • Delury, S. S., & Poulin, M. J. (2018). Self-compassion and verbal performance: Evidence for threat-buffering and implicit self-related thoughts. Self and Identity, 17, 710-722.
  • Mroz, E. L., Poulin, M. J., Grant, P. C., Depner, R. M., Breier, J., Byrwa, D. J., & Wright, S. T. (2018). Caregiver self-esteem as a predictor of patient relationship satisfaction: A longitudinal study. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 21, 376-379.
  • Ministero, L. M., Poulin, M. J., Buffone, A. E. K., & DeLury, S. S. (2018). Empathic concern and the desire to help as separable components of compassionate responding. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 475-491.
  • Monin, J. K., Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., & Langa, K. M. (2017). Spouses' daily feelings of appreciation and self-reported well-being. Health Psychology, 36, 1135-1139.
  • Buffone, A. E. K., Poulin, M. J., DeLury, S. S., Ministero, L. M., & Morrison, C. D. (2017). Don't walk in her shoes! Different forms of perspective taking affect stress physiology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 161-168.
  • Buffone, A. E. K., Gabriel, S., & Poulin, M. J. (2016). There but for the grace of god: Counterfactuals influence religious belief and images of the divine. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 256-263.
  • Poulin, M. J., & Haase, C. M. (2015). Growing to trust: Evidence that trust increases and sustains well-being across the life span. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6, 614-621.
  • Buffone, A. E. K., & Poulin, M. J. (2014). Empathy, target distress, and neurohormone genes interact to predict aggression for others: Even without provocation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 1406-1422.
  • Poulin, M. J. (2014). Volunteering predicts health among those who value others: Two national studies. Health Psychology, 33, 120-129.
  • Poulin, M. J., & Holman, E. A. (2013) Helping hands, healthy body? Oxytocin receptor gene and prosocial behavior interact to buffer the association between stress and physical health. Hormones and Behavior, 63, 510-517.
  • Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A., & Smith, D. M.  (2013). Stress does not predict increased mortality among those who give to others. American Journal of Public Health, 103, 1649-1655.
  • Poulin, M. J., Holman, E. A., & Buffone, A. E. K, (2012). The neurogenetics of nice: Oxytocin and vasopressin receptor genes and prosocial behavior. Psychological Science, 23, 446-452.