Jay  Michaels

Jay Michaels

Jay Michaels
Assistant Professor


Office: SMC B329
Phone: 941/359-4772



Dr. Jay L. Michaels started his career with USF in 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. He earned his PhD in Experimental Psychology from Florida Atlantic University in 2012 after completing an MA in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University, BS in Psychology and BA in History from the University of Central Florida, and an AA from Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State University).

Previously, Michaels was an assistant professor of psychology at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, from 2012 until 2016, where he also served as the Institutional Review Board co-chair. He was an instructor of record at Florida Atlantic University from 2010 until 2012. He enjoys teaching a variety of courses, but especially those related to research methods and statistics as well as social psychology.

Dr. Michaels’ primary research program examines how social and cognitive factors influence associations between religion, spirituality, and various outcomes. In recent studies, he has examined how religion and spirituality relate to the cognitive process of meaning-making and how this process plays a role in religion/spirituality’s association with health and wellbeing. He has also conducted studies to better understand how religion and social networks correspond to differences in people’s concern about external threats like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to conducting research, Michaels enjoys mentoring student researchers and often teaches classes related to research methods and statistics. Outside of teaching and research, Michaels is a home chef, amateur meteorologist, backyard astronomer, and enjoys Florida’s fantastic weather and natural spaces.

Specialty Area

Cognition, Neuroscience, & Social

Selected Publications

Michaels, J. L., *Santos, C., *Smirnov, J., & *Warren, S. (in-press). Appealing to a higher power? Spirituality predicts more global thinking patterns in Eastern Europeans and Americans. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

Michaels, J. L., Vallacher, R. R., & Nowak, A. (in press). Finding order in the flow of personality: Dynamical systems techniques for measuring personality coherence and change. In J. F. Rauthmann (Ed.), The handbook of personality dynamics and processes. New York: Elsevier.

*Santos, C., & Michaels, J. L. (2020). What are the core features and dimensions of “spirituality?” Results from a prototype analysis of how laypeople mentally represent spirituality as a concept. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

Michaels, J. L., Hao, F., *Smirnov, J., & *Kulkarni, I. Y. (2020). Beyond stewardship and dominion? Towards a social psychological explanation of the relationship between religious attitudes and environmental concern. Environmental Politics.

Hao, F., Michaels, J. L., & Bell, S. E. (2019). Connections between Social Capital and Environmental Concern: An Analysis of the 2010 Chinese General Social Survey. Sociological Perspectives. doi: 10.1177/0731121419835504

Michaels, J. L. (2018). Mathematical models as tools for understanding the dynamics of cooperation and conflict. In U. Strawinska-Zanko & L. S. Liebovitch (Eds.), Mathematical models of social relationships (pp. 89-118). New York: Springer.doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-76765-9_6

Tan, R., Michaels, J. L., & Strawinska-Zanko, U. (2018). Dynamical approaches to conflict and its management in work groups. In U. Strawinska-Zanko & L. S. Liebovitch (Eds.), Mathematical models of social relationships (pp.119-146). New York: Springer.doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-76765-9_7

Michaels, J. L. (2017). Social forces maintaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A dynamical psychology perspective. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 11(4), 1-17.doi: 10.4119/UNIBI/ijcv.255

Michaels, J. L., Vallacher, R. R., & Liebovitch, L. S. (2013). Volatile psychological dynamics in social interactions: Attitudes and emotions react asymmetrically to interaction shifts between agreement and disagreement. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 706-714. doi: 10.1177/1948550613482985

Michaels, J. L., Parkin, S. S., & Vallacher, R. R. (2013). Destiny is in the details: Action identification in the construction and deconstruction of meaning. In J. Hicks & C. Routledge (Eds.), The experience of meaning in life: Classical perspectives, emerging themes, and controversies (pp. 103-116). New York: Springer.doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-6527-6_8