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James Floman, PhD

Associate Research Scientist

Research Summary

Dr. Floman has three core research streams: 1) The assessment of dynamic social-affective processes (i.e., developing and validating EI and well-being measurement tools); 2) EI, mindfulness, and well-being training (i.e., developing, optimizing, and scaling EI and well-being-enhancement interventions for real-world applications); and 3) Affective neuroscience (studying mental training-induced changes in ‘emotional brain’ function and structure). Dr. Floman’s research aims to foster healthy developmental trajectories in adults by drawing on innovations in affective science from psychology, education, and neuroscience. Dr. Floman can be reached at james.floman@yale.edu.

Extensive Research Description

I am an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI) whose mission is

to use the power of emotions to create a healthier, and more equitable, innovative, and compassionate

society. The Division of Research at the YCEI has an extensive $12.5 million portfolio of research projects

ranging from seed funding to large scale basic and applied research. With the support of my talented team (associate

research scientist, postdoctoral associate, research assistant, and student RAs), I am responsible for leading two

empirical research streams at the Center, as well as co-leading a project developing mindfulness curricula for

educators.


1. I am developing and validating a novel, multi-dimensional, and ecologically valid measure of social,

emotional, and eudaimonic well-being (i.e., psychological well-being) for adults, with a special focus

on educator and college student well-being. As part of this work, I am also co-developing and validating a new suite of

tools to assess emotion skills for basic and applied research, specifically performance-based ability

measures of emotion perception, understanding, and regulation. These tools will be used to guide

efforts to support the social-emotional well-being of U.S. adults, with a specific interest in human

service professionals, including preK-12 educators and doctors, and college students. In particular, the ecological

validity and parsimony of these tools will allow them to be used in experience sampling studies, randomized

controlled trials, and national longitudinal studies to facilitate more psychometrically rigorous

research on psychological well-being among professionals with high social-emotional labor jobs and college students.


2. I am also leading two large-scale national longitudinal studies examining well-being and resilience

dynamics among racially diverse U.S. educators. I am investigating the role of meditative practices,

compassion and social connectedness, as well as emotion regulation, leadership and school

climate, in buffering educators against the deleterious and prevalent impacts of chronic mental

stress. The goal of this research stream is to more precisely classify key protective and risk factors

underlying rapid increases in educator burnout and turnover, which disproportionately impact the

quality of education in high-poverty schools serving historically disadvantaged students. Insights

from this project will be translated directly to inform and optimize social-psychological and school-based

interventions designed to promote well-being and sustain resilience among educators.


3. Partnering with a seasoned educator who effectively taught contemplative practices in elementary

schools for over two decades, I am creating a set of mindfulness and compassion-based lessons to

support educator health and well-being. Specifically, I am integrating core principles of mindfulness

(e.g., present-centered attention, open awareness) and compassion (e.g., perspective taking,

common humanity) from meditative traditions into an emotion science-grounded evidence-based

preK-12 social-emotional learning (SEL) program called RULER (Recognizing, Understanding,

Labeling, Expressing, and Regulating emotions). RULER reaches thousands of educators and about

2 million students worldwide, with continuous growth across diverse global school communities.


In my prior work – with the award of a Varela Grant from the Mind and Life Institute – I conducted an

online randomized controlled trial (RCT). In this RCT, I examined the effects of meditation training

on K-12 educator emotion skills, compassion, and prosocial behavior compared to an active music

relaxation control group. With support from Drs. Kim Schonert-Reichl and Patricia Jennings –

both world leaders in contemplative education research – I ran this rigorous contemplative practice RCT.

At present, we are working on a manuscript from the project on the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy

of online-based meditation training for educators who may benefit greatly from such scalable trainings. From this

project, we also found statistically and theoretically significant differential effects of mindfulness and

loving-kindness meditation on educator prosocial behavior that we are writing up for publication.

Research Interests

Anxiety Disorders; Burnout, Professional; Emotions; Mental Health; Psychology, Applied; Stress, Psychological; Mood Disorders; Personal Autonomy; Resilience, Psychological; Emotional Intelligence; Mindfulness; Compassion Fatigue; Burnout, Psychological; Posttraumatic Growth, Psychological; Emotional Regulation