Peggy Zoccola

Assistant Professor

Contact Information:

Email: zoccola(->AT<-)
Phone: 740-597-3300
223 Porter Hall
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701

Research Area: 

Experimental Health


Research Lab:

Psychosocial Processes and Health Laboratory



Research Interests

My research interests lie in understanding how cognitive and emotional factors may prolong physiological and psychological stress responses and the potential health consequences of this persistent activation. To date, my program of research has focused on how repetitive thought processes such as rumination and worry may influence physiological stress responses and sleep—two major health-relevant processes associated with morbidity and well-being. Some questions that I address include: do individuals who ruminate, or mentally rehearse past stressors, have greater increases in the stress hormone, cortisol, in response to a stressful event? Do these cortisol levels remain elevated after the stressor is over? Does rumination on past stressors negatively impact sleep? My work also aims to identify individual- and situation-level factors that may promote or prevent rumination. For example, are some individuals at greater risk for rumination? Are certain stressors more likely to elicit ruminative thought?

Selected Publications

Zoccola, P. M., Figueroa, W. S., Rabideau, E. M., Woody, A. & Benencia, F. (in press). Differential effects of poststressor rumination and distraction on cortisol and C-reactive protein. Health Psychology.
Dickerson, S. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2013). Cortisol responses to social exclusion. In C. N. DeWall (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion (pp. 143-151). New York: Oxford University Press.
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
Zoccola, P. M., Dickerson, S. S., & Lam, S. (2012). Eliciting and maintaining ruminative thought: The role of social-evaluative threat. Emotion, 12(4), 673-677. doi: 10.1037/a0027349
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(1), 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(4), 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(8), 925-929. doi:16/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(5), 435-443. doi:10.3109/10253891003713765
Dickerson, S. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2009). Toward a biology of social support. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 519-526). New York: Oxford University Press.
Lam, S., Dickerson, S. S., Zoccola, P. M., & Zaldivar, F. (2009). Emotion regulation and cortisol reactivity to a social-evaluative speech task. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(9), 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(7), 771-775. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ae58e8
Dickerson, S. S., Mycek (Zoccola), P. J., & Zaldivar, F. (2008). Negative social evaluation, but not mere social presence, elicits cortisol responses to a laboratory stressor task. Health Psychology, 27(1), 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(6), 661-667. doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e31817bbc77


Recent Grants

  • Inflammatory Responses to Acute Psychological Stress and Rumination. Ohio University Research Committee Grant. 2011-2012. PI. ($7,985)

Courses Taught


  • Psychology of Health & Illness
  • Research Methods in Psychology


  • Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)
  • Social Endocrinology

Graduate Students

I will be accepting graduate students for the 2014-2015 academic year. For information about the Ph.D. Program in Experimental Psychology, click here.

Additional Links

American Psychosomatic Society:

APA Division 38 (Health Psychology):

Society for Personality and Social Psychology: