(he/him/his)

Kenneth Allen portrait
  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology

Education

  • BA, Oberlin College, 2009
  • MA, Harvard University, 2013
  • PhD, Harvard University, 2018

Biography

I am a clinical psychologist by training, with specialized experience in the treatment of anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use disorders.

I co-teach the course Introduction to Psychological Science (PSYC 100) with Professor Cindy Frantz and lead an upper-level seminar on self-destructive behaviors (PSYC 425).

“Self-regulation” broadly refers to processes by which we influence our internal state and engage with the environment. These processes are often automatic or reflexive, and thus demand minimal cognitive resources. Other forms of self-regulation require effortful cognitive control. When focused on a task, for example, sometimes we must shift our attention away from distracting, salient stimuli (like money or unpleasant memories). We similarly use cognitive control to manage our emotions when making thoughtful decisions, and to inhibit inappropriate reactions when feeling distressed or overwhelmed in certain settings (like resisting the urge to cry in a job interview). Individual differences in effortful self-regulation abilities are strongly implicated in the development of psychiatric disorders and other health-relevant outcomes (e.g., obesity).

At Oberlin, I direct the Cognition, Affect, Self-regulation, & Health (C.A.S.H.) Laboratory. Our research examines self-regulatory processes in various “affective contexts”: stimuli and situations we consider important due to perceived emotional valence or value.

We are particularly interested in how cognitive control over emotion-related attention and behavioral impulses confers risk for psychopathology.

The C.A.S.H. lab focuses especially on self-destructive behaviors, such as binge-eating or food restriction, impulsive risk-taking, compulsive ritualistic acts, as well as nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicide.