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


Zoccola CV

Research Interests

My 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, my 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 I address in my 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? My 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 enivornmental contexts more likely to elicit ruminative thought and increases in cortisol? My 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?

Selected Publications

Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M., (in press). Sources of discrimination and their associations with health in sexual minority adults. Journal of Homosexuality.
Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M., (in press). 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.
Woody, A., Smolak, E., Rabideau, E. M., Figueroa, W., & Zoccola, P. M. (in press). Trait rumination moderates the effect of mentation type on heart rate responses to stressor recall. Stress. doi:10.3109/10253890.2015.1055726
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, and Coping, 28, 50-70. doi:10.1080/10615806.2014.921912
Zoccola, P. M., Figueroa, W. S., Rabideau, E. M., Woody, A. & Benencia, F. (2014). Differential effects of poststressor rumination and distraction on cortisol and C-reactive protein. Health Psychology, 33, 1606-1609. doi:10.1037/hea0000019
Gianferante, D., Thoma, M. V., Hanlin, L., Chen, X, Breines, J,. Zoccola, P. M., & Rohleder, N. (2014). Post-stress rumination predicts HPA axis responses to repeated stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49, 244-252. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.07.021
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 and Health, 30, 188-197. doi:10.1002/smi.2588
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, 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, 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: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, 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, 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. (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


Recent Grants

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


Courses Taught


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


  • Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)
  • Social Endocrinology


Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students:

  • Wilson Figueroa
  • Cari Hollenbeck
  • Andrew Manigault
  • Eileen Parry
  • Alex Woody

Former Graduate Students:

  • Erin Rabideau


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: