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Peggy Zoccola

Dr. Peggy Zoccola, portrait
Associate Professor & Director of Experimental Training
Porter 223

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Ph.D., Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine (2010)

M.A., Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine (2006)

B.A., Psychology, University of Pennsylvania (2002)


Research Areas

  • Experimental Health

Research Lab

Psychosocial Processes and Health Laboratory

Dr. Zoccola is currently not accepting new graduate students.

Research Interests

Dr. Zoccola’s research interests lie in understanding whether and how cognitive and emotional factors may prolong physiological and psychological stress responses and the potential health consequences of this persistent activation. To date, her program of research has focused on how repetitive thought processes such as rumination and worry may influence cortisol stress responses and related health outcomes. A few of questions that Dr. Zoccola addresses in her work include: Do individuals who ruminate, or mentally rehearse past stressors, have greater increases in stress hormones (cortisol) or inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein) in response to a stressful event. If so, for how long do these stress-related changes persist after the stressor ends? What are the consequences of rumination and prolonged stress-related physiological activation? Her work also aims to identify individual- and situation-level factors that may promote or prevent rumination and physiological activation. For example, are some individuals at greater risk for rumination? Are certain types of stressors or environmental contexts more likely to elicit ruminative thought and increases in cortisol? Dr. Zoccola’s research program also addresses key methodological issues and questions: How do operational definitions of rumination impact associations with physiology? How can we best measure or manipulate ruminative thought? In ongoing and recently completed studies with her colleagues and students at Ohio University, Dr. Zoccola is also exploring potential stress-buffering factors, such as trait reflection, mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction, dispositional hardiness, positive post-stressor messages, and comprehensive lifestyle interventions.


*Denotes graduate student co-author; **Denotes undergraduate student co-author

*Manigault, A. W., *Figueroa, W., *Hollenbeck, C., **Mendlein, A., *Woody, A., *Hamilton, K., *Scanlin, M., Johnson, R., & Zoccola, P. M. (2018). When family matters most: Sexual minority identity disclosure to family members uniquely predicts diurnal cortisol exposure in sexual minority young adults. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80, 717-723.

*Woody, A., *Hooker, E. D., Zoccola, P. M., & Dickerson, S. S. (2018). Social evaluative threat, cognitive load, and the cortisol and cardiovascular stress response. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 97, 149-155.

*Manigault, A. W., *Figueroa, W., *Hollenbeck, C., **Mendlein, A., *Woody, A., **Sinegar, S., *Hamilton, K., *Scanlin, M., Johnson, R., & Zoccola, P. M. (2018). A test of the association between mindfulness subcomponents and diurnal cortisol patterns. Mindfulness. 9, 897-904.

*Manigault, A. W., *Woody, A., Zoccola, P. M., & Dickerson, S. S. (2018). Trait mindfulness predicts the presence but not the magnitude of acute cortisol responses to social-evaluative stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 90, 29-34.

Zoccola, P. M., *Manigault, A. W., *Figueroa, W. S., *Hollenbeck, C., **Mendlein, A., *Woody, A., *Hamilton, K., *Scanlin, M., & Johnson, R. (2017). Trait rumination predicts elevated evening cortisol in sexual and gender minority young adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14, 1365.

*Bunford, N., Evans, S. W., Zoccola, P. M., Owens, J. S., Flory, K. & Spiel, C. (2017). Correspondence between heart rate variability and emotion dysregulation in children, including children with ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45, 1325-1337.

*Woody, A., *Figueroa, W. F., & Benencia, F., Zoccola, P. M. (2016). Trait reflection predicts interleukin-6 response to a social-evaluative stressor. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 52, 27-31.

Zoccola, P. M., & Dickerson, S. S. (2015). Extending the recovery window: Effects of trait rumination on subsequent evening cortisol following a laboratory performance stressor. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 58, 67-78.

Chadwick, A. E., Zoccola, P. M., *Figueroa, W. S., & *Rabideau, E. M. (2016). Communication and stress: Effects of hope evocation and rumination messages on heart rate, anxiety, and emotions after a stressor. Health Communication. n.v., n.p. Advance online copy. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2015.1079759

*Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2016). Sources of discrimination and their associations with health in sexual minority adults. Journal of Homosexuality, 63, 743-763. doi:10.1080/00918369.2015.1112193

*Woody, A., *Figueroa, W. F., & Benencia, F., Zoccola, P. M. (2016). Trait reflection predicts interleukin-6 response to a social-evaluative stressor. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 52, 27-31. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2015.10.011

Weeks, J., & Zoccola, P. M. (2015). "Having the heart to be evaluated": The differential effects of Fears of Positive and Negative Evaluation on emotional and cardiovascular responses to social threat. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 36, 115-126. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2015.08.004

*Woody, A., **Smolak, E., *Rabideau, E. M., *Figueroa, W., & Zoccola, P. M. (2015). Trait rumination moderates the effect of mentation type on heart rate responses to stressor recall. Stress, 18, 554-560. doi:10.3109/10253890.2015.1055726

*Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2015). Individual differences of risk and resiliency in sexual minority health: The roles of stigma consciousness and psychological hardiness. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 2, 329-338. doi:10.1037/sgd0000114

Zoccola, P. M., & Dickerson, S. S. (2015). Extending the recovery window: Effects of trait rumination on subsequent evening cortisol following a laboratory performance stressor. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 58, 67-78. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.04.014

Juth, V., Dickerson, S. S., Zoccola, P. M., & Lam, S. (2015). Understanding the utility of emotional approach coping: Evidence from a laboratory stressor and daily life. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 28, 50-70. doi:10.1080/10615806.2014.921912

*Gianferante, D., Thoma, M. V., *Hanlin, L., *Chen, X., Breines, J., Zoccola, P., & Rohleder, N. (2014). Post-stress rumination predicts HPA axis responses to repeated acute stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49, 244-252. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.021

Zoccola, P. M., *Figueroa, W. S., *Rabideau, E. M., *Woody, A., & Benencia, F. (2014). Differential effects of post-stressor rumination and distraction on cortisol and C-reactive protein. Health Psychology, 33, 1606-1609. doi:10.1037/hea0000019

Zoccola, P. M., *Rabideau, E. M., *Figueroa, W. S., & *Woody, A. (2014). Cardiovascular and affective consequences of ruminating on a performance stressor depend on mode of thought. Stress & Health, 30, 188-197. doi:10.1002/smi.2588

Zoccola, P. M., Dickerson, S. S., & Lam, S. (2012). Eliciting and maintaining ruminative thought: The role of social-evaluative threat. Emotion, 12, 673-677. doi:10.1037/a0027349

Zoccola, P. M., & Dickerson, S. S. (2012). Assessing the relationship between rumination and cortisol: A review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 73, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.03.007

Schlotz, W., Yim, I. S., Zoccola, P. M., Jansen, L., & Schulz, P. (2011). The Perceived Stress Reactivity Scale: Measurement invariance, stability and validity in three countries. Psychological Assessment, 23, 80-94. doi:10.1037/a0021148

Zoccola, P. M., Dickerson, S. S., & Yim, I. S. (2011). Trait and state perseverative cognition and the cortisol awakening response. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 36, 592-595. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.10.004

Zoccola, P. M., Green, M. C., Karoutsos, E., Katona, S. M., & Sabini. J. (2011). The embarrassed bystander: Embarrassability and the inhibition of helping. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 925-929. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.07.026

Zoccola, P. M., Quas, J. A., & Yim, I. S. (2010). Salivary cortisol responses to a psychosocial laboratory stressor and later verbal recall of the stressor: The role of trait and state rumination. Stress, 13, 435-443. doi:10.3109/10253891003713765

Lam, S., Dickerson, S. S., Zoccola, P. M., & Zaldivar, F. P. (2009). Emotion regulation and cortisol reactivity to a social-evaluative speech task. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 1355-1362. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.04.006

Zoccola, P. M., Dickerson, S. S., & Lam, S. (2009). Rumination predicts longer sleep onset latency after an acute psychosocial stressor. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 771-775. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ae58e8

Dickerson, S. S., Mycek (Zoccola), P. J., & Zaldivar, F. P. (2008). Negative social evaluation, but not mere social presence, elicits cortisol responses to a laboratory stressor task. Health Psychology, 27, 116-121. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.27.1.116

Zoccola, P. M., Dickerson, S. S., & Zaldivar, F. P. (2008). Rumination and cortisol responses to laboratory stressors. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70, 661-667. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e31817bbc77

Courses Taught


  • Advanced Research Methods in Psychology
  • Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)
  • Social Endocrinology
  • Stress Science


  • Human Stress
  • Psychology of Health & Illness
  • Research Methods in Psychology

Recent Grants

Alcohol intoxication as a risk factor for intimate partner aggression among adults with ADHD. Sponsored by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017-2019. Co-I (PI: Wymbs).

Inflammatory Responses to Acute Psychological Stress and Rumination. Ohio University Research Committee Grant. 01/2012 - 12/2012. PI. $7,985.

Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students

Former Graduate Students

  • Wilson Figueroa
  • Erin Rabideau
  • Alex Woody

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