David’s research focuses broadly on understanding what makes people resilient under stress. Specifically, he conducts community intervention studies, laboratory studies of stress and coping, and neuroimaging studies to understand how various stress management strategies alter coping and stress resilience. For example, he is currently working on studies that test how mindfulness meditation training impacts the brain, peripheral stress physiological responses, and stress-related disease outcomes in at-risk community samples. David also explores how the use of simple strategies (self-affirmation, rewarding activities, cognitive reappraisal) can buffer stress and improve problem-solving under pressure.
David has made some recent research forays into other areas, such as in describing the role of unconscious processes in learning and decision making, developing new theory and research on behavioral priming, and in building a new field of health neuroscience.
Areas of Expertise (5)
Media Appearances (5)
Neuroscientist shares the ‘nonnegotiable’ routine he uses to stay mentally sharp during the day
There’s nothing inherently wrong with these routines, but building success with your sleep schedule is a lot easier than that, says David Creswell, a psychology and neuroscience professor at Carnegie Mellon who studies sleep.
Nightly Sleep Is Key to Student Success
Carnegie Mellon University News online
David Creswell(opens in new window), the William S. Dietrich II Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences(opens in new window), led a team of researchers to evaluate the relationship between sleep and GPA.
The less college students sleep, the worse their grades, study finds
The Washington Post online
Researchers found that every lost hour of average nightly sleep at the start of an academic term was associated with a 0.07-point drop in a student’s end-of-term GPA. When a student slept less than six hours a night, the effect of lost sleep on a student’s grades was even more pronounced, said David Creswell, the lead author of the study and a professor in psychology and neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University.
Loneliness Is Bad for Your Health. An App May Help.
The New York Times online
Because loneliness, like mindfulness, is a subjective state, it’s difficult to make definitive conclusions about why and how a focus on acceptance prompted greater sociability. But David Creswell, an associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon who conducted the study with the lead author, Emily Lindsay, believes that “the equanimity piece is key.” The poise it teaches, he says, may help people become less self-judgmental, less self-conscious, more amenable to interacting with others.
Just A Few Minutes Of Meditation May Reduce Stress, Study Finds
“More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits,” said lead author J. David Creswell. So he and his team from Carnegie Mellon University set out to determine whether low “doses” of mindfulness might have an effect on the stress response.
Industry Expertise (4)
Writing and Editing
Health and Wellness
American Psychosomatic Society Herbert Weiner Early Career Award (professional)
Social Personality Health Network Early Career Award (professional)
APA Early Career Award for Scientific Contributions to Psychology (professional)
The Colorado College: B.A., Psychology 2000
University of California, Los Angeles: Ph.D., Social Psychology 2007
University of California, Los Angeles: M.A., Social Psychology 2003
- Social Personality Health Network : Executive Committee member
Event Appearances (3)
How do mindfulness interventions work?
From Behavior to Brain to Body to Health, Center for Neuroscience and Society colloquium series, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
Self-affirmation writing for breast cancer survivors
University of Hawaii Medical School Honolulu, HI
How do mindfulness interventions work?
Mind-body interface international symposium, PNIRS Asia-Pacific Symposium Plenary talk Taichung, Taiwan
Research Grants (3)
Mindfulness training for the Pittsburgh Community
Highmark Foundation $100,000
Mindfulness meditation training for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
NIH R01 $2,668,817
Value affirmation and physical symptom relief among breast cancer patients taking aromatase inhibitors
NIH R01 $2,685,878
Effect of mindfulness-based intervention on endurance performance under pressure and performance-relevant mental attributes, an interdisciplinary perspectiveContemporary Clinical Trials
2023 Performance under pressure is one of the primary features of competitive sports. Considering that increased competition levels are typically accompanied by elevated stress and anxiety, athletes' ability to cope with stress has gained even more importance in recent years. Accordingly, the current trial, entitled Mindfulness-based Peak Performance (MBPP), will take an interdisciplinary approach (e.g., sport psychology, sports training, and cognitive neuroscience), to more definitively examine whether a MBPP affects athletic performance under pressure and relevant mental attributes.
Nightly sleep duration predicts grade point average in the first year of collegeProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
2023 Total nightly sleep is a potentially important and underappreciated behavior supporting academic achievement. First-year college students from three independent universities provided sleep actigraphy for a month early in the academic term, across five separate samples. Lower average nightly sleep early in the academic term predicted lower end-of-term GPA, an effect that held even when controlling for factors known to predict end-of-term GPA, including previous-term GPA, daytime sleep, and overall academic load.
Psychometric evaluation of a Visual Interpersonal Analog ScalePsychological Assessment
2023 Interpersonal theory organizes social behavior along dominant (vs. submissive) and warm (vs. cold) dimensions. There is a growing interest in assessing these behaviors in naturalistic settings to maximize ecological validity and to study dynamic social processes. Studies that have assessed interpersonal behavior in daily life have primarily relied on behavioral checklists. Although checklists have advantages, they are discrepant with techniques used to capture constructs typically assessed alongside warmth and dominance, such as affect, which typically rely on adjective descriptors.
Lack of Belonging Predicts Depressive Symptomatology in College StudentsPsychological Science
2022 Feeling a sense of belonging is a central human motivation that has consequences for mental health and well-being, yet surprisingly little research has examined how belonging shapes mental health among young adults. In three data sets from two universities (exploratory study: N = 157; Confirmatory Study 1: N = 121; Confirmatory Study 2: n = 188 in winter term, n = 172 in spring term), we found that lower levels of daily-assessed feelings of belonging early and across the academic term predicted higher depressive symptoms at the end of the term.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction increases stimulated IL-6 production among lonely older adults: A randomized controlled trialBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
2022 Loneliness is a potent psychosocial stressor that predicts poor health and mortality among older adults, possibly in part by accelerating age-related declines in immunocompetence. Mindfulness interventions have shown promise for reducing loneliness and improving markers of physical health. In a sample of lonely older adults, this two-arm parallel trial tested whether mindfulness training enhances stimulated interleukin-6 (IL-6) production, a measure of innate immune responsivity. Lonely older adults (65–85 years; N = 190) were randomized to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or control Health Enhancement Program (HEP) intervention.