Skip to content

Travis Research Institute

Pak Lab
Pak Lab

Cultural Psychology and Narrative Inquiry

Jenny Pak, PhD


Psychology Building 123
Fuller Theological Seminary
180 N. Oakland Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91101-1714





External Collaborators:

Dr. J. W. Lee and his research team, Social Work Department, Kangnam University, Yongin, Korea
Dr. H. H. Xu and her research team, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China


According to recent scholarship from multiple disciplines (e.g., philosophy, anthropology, cognitive and developmental psychology), a person’s sense of self and life experiences are narrative in structure, formed in social interaction, and shaped by larger cultural frameworks. This lab is unique in its combination of cultural psychology and narrative approach to address a variety of theoretical and applied issues in psychology with the aim of advancing knowledge and professional competence at the individual and community level. Focused on a broad range of theoretically grounded topics, the current line of investigation includes how implicit cultural and religious values impact attachment, identity, spiritual formation, and emotional process in trauma, psychotherapy and care.


Culture, Religion, and Attachment

• Parent-child closeness and God attachment in urban and rural China
• Indigenous Asian parent-child relationship closeness measure
• Influence of culture, religion, and attachment on optimism


Culture, Religion/Spirituality, and Trauma

• Moral injury and minority identity formation
• Catholic spirituality and navigating doubt
• Grief and loss in the Coptic community
• Culture, religion, and aging among Korean/Korean immigrant elderly
• Psychological abuse and promoting resilience


Culture, Psychotherapy and Pastoral/Member Care

• Analysis of dual cultural self and emotional process in psychotherapy
• Culturally informed psychological practices and research strategies
• Cultivating humility and cultural adaptations in psychotherapy and
pastoral/member care

Recent Publications

Xu, H., Pak, J., Tu, R., and Schuberg, M. (2018). Exploring attachment and spirituality among Christians in China. Asian Journal of Social Science Studies, 3(3), 1-16.

Pak, J. (2017). Cultural psychology of religion and qualitative inquiry. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 28, 163-187.

Kim, J., Pak, J., and Eltiti, S. (2017). Cultural differences in family affection and coping abilities for missionary kids. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 45(2), 79-91.

Sklar, Q. T., Pak, J. and Eltiti, S. (2016). Parent-child closeness and acculturation in predicting racial preference in mate selection among Asian Americans. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 7(4), 265-273.

Kim, H. J., and Pak, J. (2013). Journeys toward spiritual maturity among Korean immigrant women in midlife. Journal of Psychology & Christianity, 32 (1), 3-19.


Faculty and Principal investigator


Jenny Pak

Associate Professor of Psychology



Audrey Lee

Audrey Lee. Audrey is a PhD candidate in clinical psychology. Her research topics involve the dual cultural self of individuals from highly modernized, collectivist cultures and the essential mechanism of therapeutic change through intensive qualitative analyses of psychotherapy sessions.

Angela Dupont

Angela Dupont. Angela is a fifth-year clinical psychology PhD student whose interests revolve around the effects of culture on psychology. Her current research focuses on the factors (e.g., culture, religion, education, attachment) influencing differences in optimism between French and American nationals.

Ruina Tu

Ruina Tu. The present study attempts to adopt an emic approach by using concepts endorsed in Chinese culture to delineate the landscape of traditional Chinese parenting from an indigenous standpoint. Specifically, the current research tries to explore the relevant social, cultural and historical factors that have shaped the development and manifestation of Chinese parenting. 


Michael Reda. The constructs of parental warmth and control are central to attachment theory’s understanding of the development of healthy relationship between caregiver and infant. Attachment theory treats these constructs as mutually exclusive. However, insights gathered from other cultures, particularly those of East Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan) suggest this understanding of warmth and control may not hold true. Michael’s project examines cultural critiques originating from East Asia to address Eurocentric biases that may be present in attachment theory’s definitions of warmth and control. 

Nadine Sidhom

Nadine Sidhom.  As a fundamental part of the human experience, grief has been reflected upon for centuries. However, there seems to be a very limited conversation between psychology and theology’s understanding of grief. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from the monastic traditions of the Desert Fathers regarding one’s understanding of life, death, hope, grief, and suffering. Nadine’s project addresses the gap by developing spiritually and culturally informed guidelines that will help treat grieving Coptic clients.

Mary Schuberg

Mary Schuberg. Mary’s project explores the lived experience of holding religious doubt alongside faith and church commitment, specifically in the Roman Catholic context. Narrative analysis is employed to identify both internal and external dimensions of a person who holds the tension between the ideals promoted by their religion while also allowing themselves to wrestle with the questions that come with the daily life application of those ideals in reality.

Karissa Burnett

Karissa Burnette. Using mixed methods, Karissa’s project focuses on understanding covert psychological abuse in romantic relationships. In addition to measuring psychological abuse, adult attachment style, and differentiation of self, particular attention is paid to formative relational and cultural experiences, the lived experience of covert psychological abuse, and the process of breaking free. Ultimately, it is hoped that this project will contribute to greater clinical awareness regarding the dynamics of covert psychological abuse and the healing process.

Sarah Mahtani. Psychological abuse of males is rarely investigated even though it may be more common. This study examines men’s experience of psychological abuse by their intimate partners.

Rachel Middendorf

Rachel Middendorf. Rachel’s project focuses on factors that promote resilience in individuals who experienced childhood abuse, as well as how these factors can be promoted through psychotherapy.

Eleanor Baylon

Eleanor Baylon. Eleanor’s project studies the mechanisms of resilience in Filipino-Americans.

Travis Research Institute logo
Contact Us

Jim Cummings, MDiv, MA
Research Administrator

Office Hours

8 am–5 pm


Room 326
180 N. Oakland Ave

Pasadena, CA 91182