Jay Michaels

Jay Michaels

Associate Professor


Office: SMC B329
Phone: 941/359-4772


Curriculum Vitae


Dr. Jay L. Michaels started his career with USF in 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. He earned his PhD in Experimental Psychology from Florida Atlantic University in 2012 after completing an MA in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University, BS in Psychology and BA in History from the University of Central Florida, and an AA from Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State University).

Previously, Michaels was an assistant professor of psychology at Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, from 2012 until 2016, where he also served as the Institutional Review Board co-chair. He was an instructor of record at Florida Atlantic University from 2010 until 2012. He enjoys teaching a variety of courses, but especially those related to research methods and statistics as well as social psychology.

Dr. Michaels’ primary research program examines how social and cognitive factors influence associations between religion, spirituality, and various outcomes. In recent studies, he has examined how religion and spirituality relate to the cognitive process of meaning-making and how this process plays a role in religion/spirituality’s association with health and wellbeing. He has also conducted studies to better understand how religion and social networks correspond to differences in people’s concern about external threats like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to conducting research, Michaels enjoys mentoring student researchers and often teaches classes related to research methods and statistics. Outside of teaching and research, Michaels is a home chef, amateur meteorologist, backyard astronomer, and enjoys Florida’s fantastic weather and natural spaces.


Cognition, Neuroscience, & Social


Michaels, J. L., Hao, F., Ritenour, N., & Aguilar, N. (2022). Belongingness is a Mediating Factor Between Religious Service Attendance and Reduced Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Religion and Health, 61(2), 1750-1764.

Michaels, J. L., Coy, A. C., & Vallacher, R. R. (2021). Initial development and validation of the religious behavioral identification form (RBIF): A scale to measure global cognitive framing of religious actions. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi: 10.1037/rel0000427

Michaels, J. L., Petrino, J., & Pitre-Zampol, T. (2021). Individual differences in religious motivation influence how people think. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 60(1), 64-82. doi: 10.1111/jssr.12696

Hao, F., Xinsheng, L., & Michaels, J. L. (2020). How carbon dependency and social capital affect attitudes toward climate change in 22 European countries. Environmental Science and Policy. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2020.07.028

Michaels, J. L.,Santos, C., Smirnov, J., & Warren, S. (2020). Thinking at a higher level? Religion and spirituality contribute more to global cognitive patterns among Eastern Europeans and Americans than among Western Europeans. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2020.07.028

Santos, C., & Michaels, J. L. (2020). What are the core features and dimensions of "spirituality?" Results from a prototype analysis of how laypeople mentally represent spirituality as a concept. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. doi: 10.1037/rel0000380

Michaels, J. L., Hao, F., Smirnov, J., & Kulkarni, I. Y. (2020). Beyond stewardship and dominion? Towards a social psychological explanation of the relationship between religious attitudes and environmental concern. Environmental Politics, 62(6), 844-864. doi: 10.1080/09644016.2020.1787777