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Kim Pulvers, PhD, MPH

Kim Pulvers, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor of Psychology

Office: SBSB 3212
Hours: Spring 2015: Tuesday 10:15am-11:15am & Wed 11:10am-12:10pm

Kim Pulvers, PhD, MPH

Dr. Pulvers is a clinical health psychologist and Associate Professor at California State University San Marcos. Dr. Pulvers received her Ph.D. in Clinical Health Psychology and Master of Public Health from the University of Kansas and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Pulvers’ research focuses on how psychological factors impact health behavior change. Her areas of interest are disease prevention and health promotion; health disparities; nicotine and tobacco use and other addictive behaviors; stress and mental health; distress tolerance; and positive psychology. Dr. Pulvers is serving as a psychiatric diagnostic supervisor on an NIH-funded project using Structured Clinical Interviews for DSM-IV TR (Axis I) diagnosis among Mexican-American women.



Clinical Health Psychology Research Program

The Pulvers lab is currently conducting two lines of research: 1) nicotine and tobacco use and regulation and 2) integrative biopsychosocial approaches to understanding stress which includes a) experimental social models with physiological measurement for increasing pain tolerance and b) identifying psychological risk factors for addictive behaviors.

 Nicotine and Tobacco Use and Regulation

 Nicotine and tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States. This line of research addresses three high-impact areas: (1) reducing health disparities related to tobacco use among members of ethnic minority groups, (2) advancing critically-needed information about a rapidly rising tobacco product, electronic cigarettes (ECs), and (3) gathering scientific evidence needed to advance state-level policy on banning the sale of single use filtered cigarettes given their toxic environmental effects.

 Current projects include switching smokers to ECs to determine whether this leads to cigarette reduction, cessation, or dual use, and longitudinally studying EC and other tobacco use among college students at two CSU campuses. In addition, there is a community-based project under development at a local high school to study tobacco product use. We are completing a study to determine the effects of switching smokers to unfiltered cigarettes on behavior and health. Obtaining evidence that filters do not measurably protect human health is key to the success of proposed California legislation (AB1504) to ban the sale of single use filtered cigarettes.

 Biopsychosocial Approach to Understanding Stress and Health

 Experimental Social Models

 This line of research models stress in the lab through the use of an experimental technique called the cold pressor task. We are using social messages to increase how long people withstand an acute physical stressor, measuring physiological stress response, and identifying psychological factors associated with stress response. We have established norms for how long smokers (compared to nonsmokers) tolerate cold pressor pain, developed a social norm manipulation for pain tolerance and successfully tested it with college and community samples including smokers. We are currently testing a gender-specific social message with Hispanic and non-Hispanic White college women and will determine whether there is a link between ethnicity, stress response, and mental health, and whether this response is moderated by acculturation.

 Distress Tolerance and Addictive Behaviors

Those who use substances habitually to cope with stress can become addicted and/or have difficulty quitting until they learn more adaptive ways to cope with stress. Distress tolerance is the ability to withstand negative experiences and persist toward goals despite emotional or physical distress. Distress tolerance is linked to smoking and other addictive behaviors. Improving distress tolerance skills and/or transforming the distress experience could be valuable in changing addictive behaviors. Students in the lab have used survey methods to link a component of distress tolerance, emotion regulation, with unhealthy eating, sexual compulsivity, internet addiction, and alcohol use. 

Dr. Pulvers' CV:



PSYC 402 Psychological Testing: Principles and practices of group and individual testing in aptitude, intelligence, interest, and personality. Theory, construction, evaluation, interpretation, uses, and limits of psychological tests. Reliability, validity, item analysis, norms, and test construction and selection. Ethical, sociocultural, and gender issues in testing. 

PSYC 336 Abnormal Psychology: Causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders.

PSYC 352 Human Sexuality: Examines physical, intrapsychic, and interpersonal aspects of sexuality; also anatomical, physiological, and emotional aspects, love and attraction, sexual dysfunction treatment, sexually transmitted diseases, sex and aging, legal aspects of sexual behavior, sexual exploitation, and eroticism in American culture. 

PSYC 495 Field Experience in Psychological Settings: Supervised field experience in on- and off-campus settings which provide psychological services, such as medical settings, mental health clinics, schools, and industry. Students will spend approximately six hours per week in a field placement for observation and participation, attend weekly class meetings, read related material, and prepare written reports.

PSYC 558 Proseminar in Clinical/Counseling Psychology: In-depth seminar designed to investigate and discuss current topics in counseling/ clinical psychology, including assessment and intervention techniques, professional ethics, multicultural issues, and outcome research. Students will present formal written and oral presentations and lead class discussions of advanced issues relevant to counseling/clinical theory, research, or practice. 



Where are they now?

Former student researchers in the Pulvers lab include:

Gina Merchant, currently in Public Health with Health Behavior Concentration PhD joint program at UCSD/SDSU

Eleuterio Limas, currently in Counseling Psychology PhD program at Indiana University

Anna Hood, currently in Clinical Psychology PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis

Marlene Strege, currently in Clinical Psychology PhD program at Virginia Tech

Ines Pandzic, currently in Clinical Psychology PhD program at University of Western Australia

Jackie Schroeder, currently in Experimental Psychology PhD program at Washington State University

Grant Brady, currently in Industrial/Organization PhD program at Portland State University

Laura Thode, currently in Clinical Psychology PhD program at Alliant University

Jennifer Bachand, currently in Master of Social Work program at Cal State Fullerton

Brittany Basora, currently in Master of Clinical Psychology program at Cal State Fullerton

Heidi Swanson, currently in Master of Sport and Exercise Psychology program at Minnesota State University

Nick Roome, currently in Master of Human Factors program at University of Idaho

Michelle Hackbardt, currently in Genetics Counseling program at UC Irvine


Prospective Students

Please complete the lab application and submit by email to for consideration. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. View lab application.

Requirements include: the ability to commit at least 10 hours per week and a minimum of two semesters

Preferred qualifications include: relevant work or research experience, strong classroom performance, and the ability to commit more than 10 hours per week and more than two semesters