Matthew Capriotti

Matthew Capriotti


What research questions currently preoccupy you?

How can we use new technologies to leverage tried-and-true principles of psychological science to treat and prevent mental and behavioral health problems? Along these lines, my biggest current project looks at using in-home videoconferencing to expand access to evidence-based treatment for Tourette syndrome. In this work, we are using technology to bring the therapist into the patient’s home, which lets us reach people who otherwise could not access treatment. I’m also involved in a large-scale collaborative project called The PRIDE Study with colleagues at University of California San Francisco, where we are using Internet and mobile-device platforms to engage a large, US-wide sample of sexual and gender minority (e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer; LGBTQ) adults, in order to generate state-of-the-art knowledge about LGBTQ health. In this project, we are able to use technology to reach individuals in new and exciting ways, and to invite them contribute their stories to the research base.

What personal factors contributed to your study of behavioral science?

Both of my parents were in helping professions, and, with them as role models, I knew I wanted to help people with my work. In my freshman year I took a class in Applied Behavior Analysis, and I fell in love with the idea of using a natural-science approach to understand human behavior and experience. I pursued graduate school in clinical psychology because it gave me the unique opportunity to train as both a scientist and a mental health clinician. This career path has been the perfect marriage of my “people passion” and my love of behavioral science.

What has been most challenging in your research?

It’s been a challenge to learn to appreciate, and embrace, ambiguity. In doing research, we may have hypotheses, but we never know how things will turn out (if we did, we wouldn’t need to do research!). Over time, I’ve learned more and more to see puzzling results or logistical challenges as opportunities to learn new things and create new solutions. This is still a work in progress as I continue to confront new surprises and puzzles.

How has your position in SJSU contributed to your research?

Yes, even though I’ve only been here a short time. Not only has SJSU supported me in continuing with my prior research, but my department and colleagues have encouraged me to delve into new and exciting research areas. I really appreciate how faculty here are encouraged to go after the projects that they think will be most fruitful.

A hidden (research) talent:

If I told you, then it wouldn’t be hidden anymore! Just kidding. I have a knack for finding creative ways to make powerful visual displays of data (e.g., graphs). So much of our research findings are communicated in writing, and I love coming up with clear and powerful figures to go along with this. As they say, “a picture graph is worth a thousand words.”

One book that changed your life (or research) & why:

Evolution in Four Dimensions by Jablonka & Lamb was a relatively recent read that really shifted the way I think about how our genes, bodies, and environment work together to determine who we are and how we behave. A fascinating book for anyone interested in the incredible complexity with which nature and nurture interact.

A website/journal/newspaper (in your field?) you follow without fail:

The topics I study tend to cut across multiple disciplines and subfields, so there are a number of journals that I follow regularly. Though it’s not directly “in my area,” I love to keep up with the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, which publishes research on core processes of learning and behavior. I do more applied research, but I find that reading about this basic science to be a great source of new perspectives to take on my work.

Advice you’d give to newer faculty or students:

To new students, find an area of study you get excited about and throw yourself in. This has been said many times before, but I think it’s really powerful. Life is too short to pick a field of study (and later, a line of work) that you don’t enjoy.

RSCA Accomplishments

Awarded the Clinical Research Training Fellowship in Tourette Syndrome from the American Academy of Neurology for a project entitled “Incorporating Tele-CBIT Services into a Hospital-Based Tic Clinic.”

Capriotti, M. R., Piacentini, J., Himle, M. B., Ricketts, E. J., Espil, F. M., Lee, H.-J., Turkel, J. E., & Woods, D. W. (2015). Assessing environmental consequences of ticcing in youth with chronic tic disorders: The Tic Accommodation and Reactions Scale. Children’s Health Care, 44, 205–220.

Capriotti, M. R., & Pfiffner, L. J. (in press). Patterns and predictors of service utilization in treatment seeking youth with ADHD-Predominantly Inattentive Presentation. Journal of Attention Disorders

Grant Title: Impact of Mental Health Court: A Sacramento Case Study
Yuan (PI), Capriotti
Funder: Center for California Studies, California State University
Amount: $15,000