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? 
  • 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?
  • How do our perceptions of our feline companions, ways of loving them, and interactions with them predict our well-being?
  • How do people of diverse cultural groups experience and navigate social exclusion? What biases do they face?

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 close 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 1.5 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 ([email protected]) 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




I transferred to CSULA in the Fall of 2021 as a third-year undergrad after completing A.A. degrees in psychology and sociology at Rio Hondo College. I am currently majoring in psychology as an undergrad with the goal of going on to complete a PhD. My research interest includes how perceptions of stress can affect the way people react to stressful situations as well as how social interactions can influence resilience. I love to be in wild places like forests and deserts that feel untouched by time and people and will actively search out places and experiences that feel off the beaten path. I also love high fantasy books especially if they involve magic.



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.



I came to CSULA as a transfer student in Fall 2021 and I am currently working on my bachelor's in psychology. My research interests include abuse of power, sexism and how culture affects cognition. My career goals are to become a psychology professor and do research on minority group social issues and justice. Aside from college, I love to roller-skate, read, and play cozy video games.



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 arrived at CSULA in the fall of 2021 as a transfer student from PCC. I am a part-time student, and this is my last year. I am working towards a BA in psychology and hope to continue my academic journey in an MFT counseling program to become a therapist. Interpersonal relationships (romantic/platonic) interest me. On my free time, I like building Lego with my 9-year-old son, playing pretend games with my soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter, collecting Japanese Masterpiece Transformer figures, listening to music, watching low-budget romantic movies with my partner, and playing in a garage punk rock band.



I started my academic journey at CSULA in the Fall of 2017 as a Psychology major. Within the field of Psychology, my research interests involve how psychology intersects with the law, specifically how eyewitness memory contributes to the issue of wrongful convictions. At the moment, I hope to pursue an M.S. in Forensic Psychology and to be able to apply that degree within a criminal justice setting. However, when I am not studying, I like to binge watch horror films or play volleyball during the weekends.


Cat (Jiawei)

I started attending CSULA as a psychology major student info 2019 and am in my senior year. My current research interests include causes of racial preference, emotional intelligence, and how nature and nurture features impact an individual's personality, perspectives, attributions, and interpersonal relationships. My ultimate career goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology or Industrial Organization Psychology. I am obsessed with ugly cuteness things like my flat-fat face cat.



I started attending CSULA in Fall 2020, initially in a different major, but I changed to Psychology as I had an interest in the field since high school. I am currently working on my BA in psychology and working on applying to the master’s program in Public Administration and, hopefully, my Ph.D. in psychology down the road. My research interests are within social psychology, which are relationships and mental health in minorities.

Recent Conference Presentations by Students


*Aueyong, E., **Nunez, R., & Wu, K. (2023, May). Less about Race, More about Connection: Similar Milestones between Interracial and Intraracial Couples. Poster presented at the meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

*Shapiro, M.E., & Wu, K. (2023, May). Social Influences on Love: Women in Same-Gender Vs. Mixed-Gender Couples Differ in Commitment Milestones. Poster presented at the meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

**Olmos, K., **Manzur, A.L., & Wu, K. (2023, April). You’re The Only One Who Gets Me!”: Gender and Ethnic Differences in Perceived Social Support. Poster presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, California.

*Spence, D., & Wu, K. (2023, April). “It’s Complicated”: The Roles of Social Support and Coping Strategies in Psychological Abuse Across Romantic Relationships. Single talk presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, California.

*Tesoro, F., & Wu, K. (2023, April). Cultural Matching: The Role of Acculturation and Enculturation on Filipino Parenting and Emerging Adults’ Well-being. Poster presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Riverside, California.

*Shapiro, M.E., & Wu, K. (2022, August). Does Attachment Rule the Bedroom? The Relationship Between Gender, Attachment Style, and Sexual Assertiveness in Couples. Poster presented at the International Association for Relationship Research, Virtual (Formerly London, UK).

**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