Culture and Relationships Lab



The Culture and Relationships Lab is directed by Dr. Karen Wu. Currently, we are investigating an array of different research questions, including:

  • How are our genes related to our personality traits, social behaviors, and social relationships? 
  • Why do people ghost? How do people react to being ghosted? Who ghosts, and who gets ghosted?
  • What are instructors' implicit and explicit attitudes towards students of different ethnic groups? What are predictors of these attitudes?
  • How do people perceive individuals who are in interracial relationships? 
  • What accounts for racial and ethnic preferences in dating?
  • Why do some people pick partners who look like them? 
  • What does "I love you" mean across various cultural backgrounds? How do people interpret the expression within their romantic relationships?

Graduate students are not limited to these topics and are encouraged to generate and test their own research questions on topics related to culture and/or relationships. Thus, graduate students should develop skills in independent thinking and creativity that will aid them in a research-oriented PhD program.



Joining the Lab


The lab meets for about 2 hours per week. During this time, students may discuss research, give research presentations, or work on ongoing projects. Outside of the meeting, students may also be involved in other tasks such as conducting literature searches, testing and refining the study design, building surveys, training for studies, running participants, coding data, and working on independent projects. Essential qualities in lab members include good communication skills, reliability, conscientiousness, time management skills, and the ability to work with others. Strong quantitative and writing skills are also highly valued, especially in graduate students or undergraduates who are interested in independent projects. 

Undergraduates interested in joining the lab should email Dr. Karen Wu ( for an application, whereas interested graduate students must formally apply to the MA program. Undergraduates -- please note that a GPA of at least 3.2 is recommended. 



Current Labbies



In Fall 2019, I started attending CSULA as a Psychology major and am currently pursuing a B.A. in Psychology. My research interests are about mental disorders (specifically depression, anxiety, and PTSD) and teenagers. In the future, I hope to become a Clinical Psychologist to help young adults with their hardships and mental health. I am an avid reader who usually stays indoors, but I also enjoy walking outside and taking in the scenery around me.



I began my undergraduate career at CSULA in Fall 2015 and graduated in Spring 2019 with a BA in Communicative Disorders. I am currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Counseling. I plan to become a rehabilitation counselor or mental health counselor. I also wish to continue exploring research questions involving interracial romantic relationships and individuals with disabilities and their romantic relationships. I enjoy listening to indie music, running around the block, lettering in my art journal, and spending time with my friends and family.



I began pursuing my MA in Psychology at Cal State LA in Fall 2021. My research interests include attraction, romantic relationships, the LGBTQIA+ community, and well-being. Dr. Wu's mentorship and the graduate psychology program at Cal State LA are vital in my pursuit of a PhD in Social Psychology, as I plan to become a public university professor involved in research. During my free time, I enjoy biking, playing with my dogs, camping, and all things Disney.




After transferring from community college, I started attending CSULA in the Fall of 2017. I am currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. My research interests include family and interpersonal relationships and their influence on health. I hope to assist underrepresented communities as a marriage and family therapist and educator.



I transferred to CSULA from East Los Angeles College in Fall 2016. I’m a Dual Major in Social Work and Psychology. I’m interested in researching the role of psychopathology in drug abuse among teenagers. After I complete my undergrad, I plan to pursue a Master’s in Social Work. I aim to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to work with children who are suffering from mental illness, substance abuse, or common lifestyle difficulties. I enjoy spending time with my friends going to Dodger games, the movies, and having game nights.



I came to CSULA in 2015 after finishing community college. I have since graduated with my BA in psychology and am now working on my Master’s in the subject. My research interests include relationships, conflict, and mood disorders. I currently work in the field of ABA as a Registered Behavior Technician. When I am not working or studying I love watching bad movies, playing video games, and fixing Furbys.



I began my journey at CSULA in Fall 2017. I entered majoring in child development but quickly realized that my interests were in psychology. My research interests are in social psychology and the complex factors that affect the mental health of humans. I enjoy attending music festivals and consider them my hobby because a lot of my life is spent listening to music.



I’ve been a Cal State LA student since the Fall of 2017. I am currently pursuing a B.A. in Psychology. My research interests are many because I love to learn about anything, but I am particularly interested in the many aspects of violence and how it affects people. My career goal is to become a forensic psychologist. In my free time, hobbies I enjoy doing include listening to music, reading, watching movies and TV, running, coloring and napping :)



I started pursuing my Master's degree in Psychology at CSULA in Fall 2020, after obtaining my BA in Psychology and Cognitive Science minor from UCLA in 2019. My research interests include familial relationships (parent-child), specifically immigrant parents and adolescents. I plan to become a professor/researcher. I also want to write and publish a book related to my research. My hobbies include traveling, watching movies (action, horror, rom-com), listening to music, singing, and dancing (I'm part of a family dance crew "cuzzins crew").



My journey started in Fall 2018. My research interest is about counseling psychology and how other cultures have different beliefs which can affect their social lives and mental health. My career goal is to get my masters in school psychology and become the best counselor that I can be! Becoming a big impact to people lives, those who need help, or those who are surrounded by me is very important to me. Lastly, when I’m not studying or hitting the books I like to work out, play basketball and get to know myself even more.



I transferred to CSULA from Rio Hondo College in Fall 2018. My research interests include anything related to social psychology, but particularly attitudes, relationships, social conformity, and media psychology. I am hopeful to pursue a master's degree in psychology and go on to a doctoral program for social psychology. I enjoy traveling as frequently as I can and I'm always up for an adventure to somewhere new! I'm also a dog mom and greatly enjoy hiking, going to the beach, or spending time outside working on my vegetable garden.




Recent Conference Presentations by Students


**Khaw, H., **Magana, R., & Wu, K. (2022, February). More power, less pressure: Gender does not moderate the link between power in a romantic relationship and sexual coercion. Poster presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Francisco, California.


*Saito, K., Wu, K., *Hsiao, C.Y., **Vasquez, D., **Zepeda, T., & **Hernandez, A. (2019, March). Different stories of love: Chinese couples are committed, whereas American couples are physically intimate. Poster presented at the International Convention of Psychological Science, Paris, France.


**Aueyong, E., **Bush, A., **Mata, K., & Wu, K. (2019, February). Different rules, same pace: Similarities between interracial and intraracial relationship milestones. Poster presented at the meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Portland, Oregon.


*Master’s student; **Undergraduate student