Department of Psychology

Elizabeth Vella Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology
photograph of Dr. Elizabeth Vella, grey background, headshot

Office Location

512 Science

Faculty Office Hours Summer 2022

by appointment


(207) 780-4252

Academic Degrees

  • Virginia Tech, M.S., 2003; Ph.D., 2005
  • Sonoma State University, B.A., 1998


Health Psychologist


Teaching Fall 2022

PSY 205/206: Experimental Methodology Lecture and Lab (In-person) 


Psychology Department Chair

Psychology Department Internship Coordinator

Elizabeth Vella, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Vella received her Ph.D. in Psychological Sciences from Virginia Tech in 2005 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007. Her research interests include the link between psychosocial factors and cardiovascular risk, and the physiological mechanisms that may explain these associations, as well as the implications for stress management interventions in improving quality of life and reducing physiological responses to stressors among at-risk populations. She has authored or co-authored numerous articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented her research at a variety of conferences. 

Research Interests

Cardiovascular Reactivity to and Recovery from Lab Induced Stress

Stress Reduction Interventions to Improve Quality of Life among Cancer Patients and Combat Veterans

Recent Publications

Vella, E.J. (2021). Psychosocial factors in coronary heart disease. In M.L. Robbins and K. Sweeney (Eds.), The Wiley Encyclopedia of Health Psychology (Vol#2): The social bases of health behavior (pp. 529-535). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [reprint request]

Vella, E.J. & Mills, G.J. (2017). Personality, uses of music, and music preference: The influence of openness to experience and extraversion. Psychology of Music, 45(3), 338-354. [pdf available here]

Vella, E.J., Turesky, E.F., & Hebert, J. (2016). Predictors of academic success in web-based courses: Age, GPA, and instruction mode. Quality Assurance in Education, 24(4), 586-600. [reprint request]

Vella, E.J., Milligan, B., & Bennett, J.L. (2013). Participation in outdoor recreation program predicts improved psychosocial well-being among veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: A pilot study. Military Medicine, 178(3), 254-260.[reprint request]

Vella, E.J., Kamarck, T.W., Flory, J.D., & Manuck, S. (2012). Hostile mood and social strain during daily life: A test of the transactional model. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 44(3), 341-352. [pdf available here]

Vella, E.J. & Budd, M. (2011). Pilot study: Retreat intervention predicts improved quality of life and reduced psychological distress among breast cancer patients. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 17, 209-214. [pdf available here]

Vella, E.J., & Friedman, B.H. (2009). Hostility and anger-in: Cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to mental arithmetic stress. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 72, 253-259. [pdf available here]

Vella, E.J., Kamarck, T.W., & Shiffman, S. (2008). Hostility moderates the effects of social support and intimacy on blood pressure in daily social interactions. Health Psychology, 27(Suppl. 2), S155-S162. [pdf available here]

Vella, E.J., & Friedman, B.H. (2007). The autonomic characteristics of defensive hostility: Reactivity and recovery to active and passive stressors (invited paper). International Journal of Psychophysiology, 66, 95-101. [pdf available here]