The Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat


Thursday, 17 May, 2018 -
13:00 to 14:00


Mathews Building, Level 16, Room 1616


School of Psychology

This talk will review the origins and current research inspired by the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat developed by Professor Jim Blascovich.

This talk will review Jim Blascovich’s quest to broaden the understanding of neurophysiological processes related to social motivation and behaviours. In the early 1990s, Jim began development of a panel of cardiovascular measures using to add to electrocardiograms and blood pressure measures such as vasodilation, vasoconstriction and blood flow. This led to his well-known theoretical model, the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat which today guides research world-wide. Jim, together with the Director of the UCSB Brain Imaging Centre, determined that the accuracy of BOLD signal size and locations revealed via fMRI technology could be increased by determining the motivational state (i.e., challenge/threat) of research participants during fMRI studies. Recent published and in press articles describe the success of this enterprise.


Jim Blascovich is Distinguished Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he is the Founding Director of the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior. Jim is a past President of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc (Div. 8 of APA), the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology. He is a Member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, of the American Psychological Society, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Among his awards and prizes are the Methodological Innovation Prize and the Service Award from the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Inaugural Teaching Fellowship from the Australasian Social Psychology Society/Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and an Erskine Fellowship at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Jim Blascovich’s major research interests include social motivation, and social influence within technologically mediated environments such as immersive virtual reality. He developed the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat and has applied this model to various social phenomena including intra-individual, interpersonal and intergroup processes. He also uses immersive virtual environment technology to empirically investigate social influence processes within virtual environments.

Jim received his Ph.D. at the University of Nevada where he was an assistant professor for one year, then on to in succession Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and finally the University of California, Santa Barbara.