Rising Stars in Psychological Science

Donna Rose Addis

University of Auckland, New Zealand

This is a photo of Donna Rose Addis.

What does your research focus on? My research combines behavioral, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological methods to investigate how we remember the past, imagine the future, and construct a present sense of self. I have a particular interest in the role of the hippocampus in memory, and I have also examined how memory and future thinking changes with hippocampal dysfunction in temporal lobe epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and healthy aging.

Modupe Akinola

Columbia Business School, USA

What does your research focus on? I study how stress affects performance. My research focuses on understanding how organizational environments, characterized by deadlines and multi-tasking, can engender stress, and how this stress can have spill-over effects on performance. I use a multi-method approach that includes behavioral observation, implicit and reaction time measures, and physiological responses (specifically hormonal and cardiovascular responses) to examine how cognitive outcomes are affected by stress.

Ehsan Arabzadeh

University of New South Wales, Australia

Photo of Ehsan Arabzadeh

What does your research focus on? A principal challenge of systems neuroscience is to quantify brain activity underlying behavior. Key questions include: How are different stimuli represented in neuronal activity? How does neuronal activity give rise to animals’ choices? I have a broad interest in systems neuroscience spanning areas such as sensory coding, adaptation, and learning. In the lab, we perform neuronal recording from cortex and deep-brain structures in anesthetized as well as awake behaving rats, and apply computational methods to quantify the way in which single neurons or neuronal ensembles code for sensory stimuli, the animal’s choice, and the outcome of a behavioral action. One focus is the rat whisker sensory system. The detailed knowledge of cortical processing circuitry, combined with the animals’ high-level sensory capacities, makes this system an ideal platform for studying the neuronal bases of behavior.

Steve Balsis

Texas A&M University

This is a photo of Steve Balsis.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on improving the assessment of clinical disorders (personality disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, etc.) in older adults. This topic is timely because many of these disorders are not measured well in older adults. Further, these disorders play important roles in health outcomes, affecting not only older adults but also their families and the health care system. I focus much of my research on improving assessment instruments more generally because many of the current instruments and techniques have fundamental problems that are relevant to adults of all ages (not just older adults). A significant focus of this research is on the measurement of dementia. The goal here is to hasten the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a critical step in managing the disease. My most recent studies are aimed at improving the detection of change in clinical trials of Alzheimer’s disease medications.

Yanchao Bi

Beijing Normal University, China

What does your research focus on? My current research focuses on the functional and neural architecture of concepts — the meaning of words, pictures, and sounds. My earlier work was on the psychological mechanisms of language processing. I was always interested in the meaning of words, which goes beyond language and represents the interface between language and a whole range of other cognitive domains.

Julie Bugg

Washington University, USA

What does your research focus on? The primary focus of my research is cognitive control, and age-related changes in control. I am interested in the mechanisms humans use to resolve interference, the interplay of expectancy-driven and stimulus-driven control, the degree to which these mechanisms are impaired versus spared with age, and remediation of age-related cognitive control decline.

Andrew Butler

Duke University, USA

What does your research focus on? Generally speaking, I study human memory and learning. However, I am particularly interested in how the act of retrieving information from memory affects subsequent memory for that information. Many people consider memory retrieval to be a neutral event, much like measuring someone’s weight. Just as stepping on a scale doesn’t change how much someone weighs, memory retrieval is assumed to reveal the contents of memory but leave them unchanged. However, a large body of research has shown that retrieving information from memory actually changes memory. My program of research explores the underlying cognitive processes that produce this basic finding as well as various practical applications.

Dana Carney

Columbia University, Graduate School of Business


What does your research focus on? I study memory, metacognition and cognitive aging. I am interested in age-related differences in memory and cognition and how people make judgments and predictions about memory performance. Specifically, I am very interested in how people remember important information, and if older adults learn to remember important things at the expense of less important information. If you know you can’t remember everything, how do you prioritize what is important to remember? Does this same ability to focus on important information also make one a good student? Do we really understand how our own memory works?

Shana K. Carpenter

Iowa State University, USA


What does your research focus on? I study techniques and strategies that improve memory. My research so far has focused on the effectiveness of relatively simple mnemonic techniques such as retrieval practice, the optimal scheduling of repeated study sessions, and the best time during which corrective feedback should be given in order to maximize the amount of information that people can remember.

Alan Castel

University of California, Los Angeles, USA

This is a photo of Rising Star Alan Castel.

What does your research focus on? I study memory, metacognition and cognitive aging. I am interested in age-related differences in memory and cognition and how people make judgments and predictions about memory performance. Specifically, I am very interested in how people remember important information, and if older adults learn to remember important things at the expense of less important information. If you know you can’t remember everything, how do you prioritize what is important to remember? Does this same ability to focus on important information also make one a good student? Do we really understand how our own memory works?

Jason Chan

Iowa State University, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on memory illusions and memory interventions. Recently I started to merge these two interests together; the goal is to use memory enhancement techniques such as retrieval practice to reduce erroneous memories. Of course, we have known for a long time that memory can be malleable, so one question that interests me is “what can we do about it?” Memory intervention techniques (such as retrieval practice) can be used to reduce erroneous memories, and they can also be applied to enhance students’ learning in general, but even these interventions can have its limits. One of my research goals is to learn more about these limits.

Joan Chiao

Northwestern University, USA

What does your research focus on? I conduct research in social affective and cultural neuroscience. Currently, my research adopts a ‘cultural neuroscience’ framework to examine how cultural and genetic factors give rise to everyday emotion and social cognition. Since high school, I have been interested in neuroscience and understanding how the brain works. In college, I also developed a strong passion for diversity and social justice. Fortunately, research in social affective and cultural neuroscience allows me to pursue these interests simultaneously. Ultimately, I hope that my research with others may be able to inform public policy and population health concerns.

Joshua Correll

University of Chicago, USA

What does your research focus on? Racial stereotypes are complex and multifaceted. Researchers have highlighted the diverse attributes that are associated with a variety of racial groups. But amid this variability, stereotypes of the “other” as dangerous seem to occupy a special role. In the United States, these stereotypes are frequently applied to Black people — particularly to Black men. The presentation of a Black male face on a computer screen prompts attentional and physiological reactions in roughly a tenth of a second, and can motivate defensively oriented behavior. The mechanisms and consequences of these threat-based stereotypes constitute my primary research interest. As a platform for studying the relationship between race and threat, much of our work employs a task in which participants decide whether or not to shoot a potentially dangerous “target.” This first-person-shooter simulation presents a series of images of young men, some Black, some White, some armed, some unarmed. The player’s goal is to shoot any and all armed targets. Using this task, we find robust evidence of bias, such that participants shoot an armed target more quickly and more frequently when that target is Black (rather than White), but they decide not to shoot an unarmed target more quickly and more frequently when the target is White (rather than Black). In essence, participants are faster and more accurate when targets conform to the cultural stereotype that Blacks are dangerous. Our initial work with this paradigm highlights the fast-acting influence of race on perceptions of threat, leading us to questions about the psychological processes that drive this bias as well as the potential to overcome it.

J. David Creswell

Carnegie Mellon University, Health and Human Performance Laboratory


To what do you attribute your success in the science? I think one reason why I’ve had some initial successes is that I’m good at getting people to work together. I love team science. I learn so much from my students and collaborators, and I love to see them run with ideas and projects. I am just one small piece of each publication — the work reflects the team effort, and I enjoy being a team leader.

Amy Cuddy

Harvard Business School, USA


What does your research focus on? Much of my work has focused on social categories (e.g., Asian Americans, elderly people, Latinos, working mothers) — how they are judged by others and by their own members (i.e., stereotyping) and how these judgments set the tone and content of social interactions (i.e., prejudice and discrimination). My collaborators and I have developed a body of research that concentrates on judgments of other groups and individuals along two core trait dimensions, warmth and competence, and how these judgments shape and motivate our social emotions, intentions, and behaviors. I examine how these social-perception and influence processes play out in contexts such as hiring, promotion, and charitable giving, among others. My most recent work examines warmth and competence in the domain of nonverbal behavior — demonstrating how brief nonverbal expressions of competence/power and warmth/connection actually alter the neuroendocrine levels, expressions, and behaviors of the people making the expressions, even when the expressions are “posed.”

Brian D'Onofrio

Indiana University Bloomington, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on identifying the mechanisms through which environmental factors, such as pregnancy-related, parental, and neighborhood risks, are associated with child and adolescent psychopathology. I am currently utilizing three approaches to specify these developmental processes: (1) quasi-experimental designs, including the comparison of differentially exposed siblings, twins, and offspring of twins; (2) longitudinal analyses; and (3) randomized-control, intervention studies.

Lisa DeBruine

University of Aberdeen, UK

What does your research focus on? Interpreting a wide range of signals from the face is at the center of social interaction. My original focus of research was on human kin recognition and how people respond to facial resemblance. As predicted by biological theories of inclusive fitness and inbreeding, I find that people perceive computer-generated facial resemblance as “trustworthy, but not lust-worthy”. This led to a productive second line of research on social perception of faces more generally, which has developed into further lines of research on social perception of voices and on the cognitive and visual processes that underpin face perception.

Jaap Denissen

Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany

What does your research focus on? I am interested in longitudinal transactions between persons and situations. How do people change their behavior in response to situational demands, both in the short term (e.g., on a day-to-day level) and in the longer term (e.g., during an important life transition)? How do people differ in these responses? What effects do these differences have on important life outcomes, such as well-being and friendship formation?

Thomas F. Denson

University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

This is a photo of Thomas F. Denson.

What does your research focus on? I am a social psychologist interested in the causes and consequences of anger and aggression. The work in my laboratory takes a wide-ranging approach to understanding these phenomena in that we investigate psychological and biological variables and their interactions. Specific foci include understanding the role of self-control in aggression as well as trying to identify how individuals can best regulate their anger. Two additional research interests include prejudice and social stress. So, the sunny side of life really

C. Nathan DeWall

University of Kentucky, USA

What does your research focus on? My research emphasizes the pervasively social nature of human beings, a nature that includes a powerful motivation to form and maintain social connections, a propensity to behave aggressively, and a sophisticated capacity to self-regulate. My research program focuses on these three related processes: (1) the consequences of social rejection and acceptance, (2) understanding risk and resiliency factors for aggression, and (3) why humans and non-human animals succeed and fail at self-regulation.

Angela Duckworth

University of Pennsylvania


To what do you attribute your success? In addition to fabulous mentors, I’ve had the most wonderful students and research assistants; they make coming to work every day a true joy. My department has been terrifically encouraging. And, perhaps most important of all, I am blessed with an incredibly supportive family — they put up with my long hours, inconvenient travel schedule, and occasional bouts of post-journal-rejection crankiness.

Paul E. Dux

University of Queensland, Australia

This is a photo of Paul E. Dux.

What does your research focus on? Our world constantly serves up far more sensory information than can be processed at the level of awareness. Thus, it is vital that humans are able to sort the important information from the irrelevant, and select the correct responses to this information from a veritable plethora of options. These tasks are thought to be undertaken by the attention system and I am interested in understanding the cognitive and neural underpinnings of this system and, in particular, the mechanism(s) that give rise to the capacity limitations of attention. In addition, I am interested in how humans overcome such limitations by employing environmental cues such as the context in which relevant items appear and how training improves cognitive performance and reduces the impact of attentional bottlenecks.

Bridgid Finn

Washington University, USA

My research is focused on the cognitive processes that are involved in regulating memory and learning. Much of my research targets how metacognition is used to guide learning. Specifically, I’m interested in identifying the biases that affect how people make assessments about their knowledge, and how these biases affect decisions about learning. Recently, I have been working on understanding the mechanisms involved in memory retrieval, and in particular the role that reconsolidation and post retrieval processes may play in strengthening memory after retrieval.

Michael C. Frank

Stanford University, USA

What does your research focus on? I study the intersection between social cognition and language acquisition: I try to understand how the social context of interactions between children and caregivers provides information for children to learn the meanings of words and how they go together in sentences.

Phillip Atiba Goff

Executive Director of Research, Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity; University of California, Los Angeles

This is a photo of Phillip Atiba Goff.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on contemporary racial and gender discrimination, particularly in the domain of criminal justice. It is inspired by a single question: How does one explain persistent racial inequality in the face of declining explicit racial prejudice? This question summarizes the conundrum of many contemporary intergroup conflicts and presents difficult practical and theoretical challenges to traditional psychological approaches to bias and discrimination. Rather than assuming that declining prejudiced attitudes are simply evolving, my work investigates possible psychological mechanism that produce inequality even absent bias. Put another way, my work investigates racism without racists (and sexism without sexists, etc). The goal of my research is to generate new language to describe contemporary intergroup conflict that foregrounds the role of situations in producing objectionable outcomes and, therefore, better describes both the mechanisms and experiences of racism and sexism.

Karen Gonsalkorale

The University of Sydney, Australia

What does your research focus on? My research interests are in the areas of social cognition, intergroup relations, and stereotyping and prejudice. I’m currently exploring the ways in which people think about their social groups and how these cognitions influence intergroup relations. Other research focuses on intergroup biases that people may not personally endorse or even be aware of having. I’m interested in what causes these biases, whether people can control them, and how they influence behaviour toward members of other groups.

Nigel Gopie

Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Canada

What does your research focus on? How does memory facilitate our communication? Memory underlies our ability to retrieve the name of a colleague or to remember what we said to a friend a week ago so we do not repeat a joke or information. My research focuses on how memory facilitates these socially important tasks. Forgetting the names of familiar people and prefacing conversations with, “Have I told you this before?” is not just prevalent among older adults but it is also a common problem among people in my generation. These cognitive lapses are still not well understood and it excited me to shed light on these socially significant processes.

Amie Grills-Taquechel

University of Houston, USA

Amie Grills-Taquechel

What does your research focus on? My primary research program focuses on examining developmental pathways to childhood anxiety disorders, as well as developing and evaluating prevention/intervention programs for childhood anxiety-related problems. My work in this area has examined the roles of peer (e.g., bullying and friendship quality), familial (e.g., parental anxiety and stress), and academic variables (e.g., achievement, attention) in the development of pediatric anxiety. I also have a secondary area of research, which pertains to risk and resiliency factors involved in the development of anxiety and related difficulties following traumatic events. I have completed several studies in this area including those with survivors of natural disasters, sexual assault, and mass shootings.

June Gruber

Yale University, USA

This is a photo of June Gruber.

What does your research focus on? In what ways can feeling good actually be bad for us? There is a fair amount of research on associated difficulties of negative emotions like fear in anxiety disorders or sadness in depression. We know almost nothing about the potential negative consequences of positive emotions. My work explores this surprising and counterintuitive possibility by delineating the nature of positive emotion disturbance along a continuum in people with normative degrees of positive emotion (college students and community samples) as well as clinical patient samples characterized by extreme degrees of positive emotion (bipolar disorder). I take a multi-method approach in my work by measuring experiential, behavioral, and biological indices of emotion response.

Greg Hajcak

Stony Brook University, The State University of New York

This is a photo of Greg Hajcak.

What does your research focus on? My laboratory focuses on cognitive and affective science and their intersection with psychopathology (anxiety, depression, and psychosis). We are particularly interested in emotion–cognition interactions: how attention, emotion, and cognitive control relate to one another — including the topic of emotion regulation, which has become hot over the past few years. We are also interested in the converse: how motivation and emotion influence processes that are seemingly “cognitive.” Our research tools include psychophysiological, neurobiological, and behavioral measures — we work a lot with EEG and ERPs, the startle reflex, and increasingly, integrating multiple measures. We are very interested in whether individual differences in these processes might serve as concomitants of, and markers of risk for, psychopathology. Although most of our work has been in adults, we are increasingly studying children and developmental processes in my lab.

Yong He

National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, China

What does your research focus on? Much of my research focuses on the methodology and applications of the human brain connectome by using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques, including structural MRI, diffusion MRI and resting-state fMRI. Specifically, I am interested in (1) exploring the relation between brain structural and functional connectivity and personal behaviors, and (2) studying abnormal connectivity patterns in neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Hal E. Hershfield

Stern School of Business, New York University, USA

What does your research focus on? Broadly, I study the ways that thinking about time can transform the emotions people feel and alter the judgments and decisions that they make. Within this framework, I have carried out two related lines of research. First, I study the role that considerations of the future play in guiding emotional experience and directing decision-making. In this vein, I have studied how an awareness of imminent endings (a) gives rise to a mixture of happiness and sadness and (b) directs one’s attention and even one’s gaze toward positive information. Further, I have found that looking ahead in time and feeling a sense of connection to one’s future self can impact long-term financial decision-making, converting a consumer into a saver. In my second line of research I examine the ways that reflections about the past can change investments in the present. Here, I study the ways that counterfactual reflection — or thoughts about what might have been rather than what was — fosters a greater sense of commitment to entities such as companies, countries, and important others.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

University of Southern California – Brain and Creativity Institute and the Rossier School of Education

What does your research focus on? I use an interdisciplinary approach that combines affective and social neuroscience, human development psychology, and educational psychology. My research has two branches: One focuses on the development of psychological, neural, and psychophysiological bases of social emotion, social learning, and self across cultures; the other focuses on translating and applying the results of this research within educational contexts.

Aarti Iyer

University of Queensland, Australia

What does your research focus on? In one line of research, I investigate people’s emotional responses to inequality and injustice, and the ways in which these emotions predict distinct political attitudes and behaviors. I also study institutional efforts to address inequality (e.g. affirmative action), focusing on beneficiaries’ and non-beneficiaries’ emotional and political responses to these programs. In a third line of work, I examine the ways in which identity change processes shape people’s experiences of life transitions.

Véronique Izard

CNRS & Université Paris Descartes, France

This is a photo of Veronique Izard.

What does your research focus on? In my research, I am trying to understand the foundations of mathematical thinking. How much of mathematical thinking is grounded in universal intuitions, common to all human beings? What part of mathematics consists of cultural inventions, transmitted through generations? I was originally trained as an engineer, and being fascinated by the beauty of mathematics, I majored in pure maths. At the end of college, I was going to enroll for a theoretical math PhD, until, out of pure luck, I stumbled upon a leaflet on a cognitive science graduate program. I fell in love with this science instantly.

Wendy Johnson

University of Edinburgh, UK

What does your research focus on? My research explores how genetic and environmental influences transact to shape the way people move through their lives and become the varied individuals we see around us. This is really broad, I know. I’m particularly interested in cognitive ability, how it develops in childhood, why and how it varies so much among individuals, what it is in the brain, how people use it or don’t, how it is integrated with personality and emotional expression, how it is shaped during education, and how it changes in old age. This takes me in many directions involving medicine and mental health, sociology, education, personality, genetics, embryology, and evolutionary anthropology.

Jeffrey D. Karpicke

Purdue University, USA

What does your research focus on? Research in my laboratory sits at the interface between cognitive science and education. Our research has been especially focused on the importance of retrieval processes for learning. My goal is to identify effective strategies that promote long-term meaningful learning and comprehension. There is a significant need now for research that integrates the theoretical tools and methods from cognitive science with the content and learning goals in education. This is an exciting time to be conducting this research because there is the potential to have an impact both on theoretical ideas about how the mind works and on practical strategies that can be used in educational settings.

Aaron Kay

Duke University, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on the relation between motivation, implicit social cognition, and broad societal issues. I have a particular interest in how basic motivations and needs – including ones that people may not be entirely aware of – manifest as specific social and societal beliefs. These include (but are not limited to) the causes and consequences of stereotyping and system justification, religious and political belief, and the attitudes people hold towards their institutions and social systems.

Katherine Kinzler

The University of Chicago, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on the development of social cognition.  I believe that studying early development is essential for understanding the nature and potential malleability of human social interactions.  Much of my research investigates infants’ and children’s reasoning about language as a social category.  I find that even before they can talk themselves, children evaluate others based on how they speak.  Children’s language-based social evaluations persist throughout development.  In several cases, I find that children’s social preferences for others based on their language and accent are greater than those based on race.

E. David Klonsky

University of British Columbia, Canada

This is a photo of E. David Klonsky

What does your research focus on? Over the past several years, my research has focused on understanding and assessing motivations for non-suicidal self-injury and attempted suicide, as well as the role of emotion in psychopathology. Findings from these projects have led me to develop a new line of research on the classification and assessment of emotional experience. For example, how can we best understand, differentiate, and operationalize emotional reactivity and emotion regulation? Are there primary emotions (e.g., sad, glad, mad, and scared) that can be understood and predicted through a parsimonious, evolutionarily grounded theory?

Iris Kolassa

University of Ulm, Germany

What does your research focus on? I have two research interests: First, the consequences of (traumatic) stress on the brain, the mind, and one’s molecular biology. Second, changes in the brain in aging and mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer's disease and the role of physical exercise and cognitive trainings in preventing age-related cognitive decline.

Peter Kuppens

University of Leuven, Belgium

What does your research focus on? I study emotions, specifically I’ve been trying to make sense of the patterns with which our emotions change across time, and what we can learn from them to understand what makes people happy or miserable

Andrew Livingstone

University of Stirling, UK

What does your research focus on? Broadly, I’m interested in social identity, group processes, and intergroup relations. I’ve also developed a particular interest in the role of emotion in these phenomena. Specific lines of research have focused on (1) the role of group norms and social identity content in intergroup relations; (2) resistance to intergroup inequality and threat by members of minority groups; and (3) emotion as a basis for social identity. I’m also fortunate to have been involved in research into crowd behavior, led by Clifford Stott at University of Liverpool.

Corinna E. Löckenhoff

Cornell University, USA

This is a photo of Corinna E. Lockenhoff

What does your research focus on? My research examines age differences in personality and emotions and explores their influence on health-related decisions and outcomes. A central goal is to understand how age groups differ in their approach to healthcare choices and to find ways to optimize such choices across the life span. Another line of my research examines life-long trajectories in people’s personality traits and their relation to mental and physical health.

Shayne Loft

University of Western Australia, Australia

What does your research focus on?My research goal is to conduct theory-driven research to uncover the mechanisms that underlie human performance in safety-critical work contexts. My general approach is to observe performance in complex work systems (e.g., air traffic control, submarine track management, piloting) and take these insights back into the laboratory, bringing them under experimental control. This laboratory research is complemented by field research and consultancy. Some specific areas of interest include prospective memory, conflict detection, workload, situational awareness, training and automation.

Gary Lupyan

University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

This is a photo of Gary Lupyan.

What does your research focus on? I am interested in the cognitive functions of language. Apart from being used to communicate our ideas, how does speaking a language shape those ideas in the first place? What sorts of concepts might be “unthinkable” if we didn’t have the capacity for language? How are traits such as memory, categorization, and visual perception — traits that we share with other animals, shaped by our capacity for language — a trait largely unique to our species?

Joe Magee

New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service & Stern School of Business, USA

What does your research focus on? I study the influence of social hierarchy on thought and behavior, and how people construe and communicate about their social worlds. The theme that ties these areas of research together for me is social power, defined by the dynamics of dependence and control in interpersonal relationships. In particular, I am interested in how the existence of power in social relationships and organizations plays an important role in construal and behavior.

Lindsay Malloy

Florida International University, USA

This is a photo of Lisa Malloy.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on such questions as, what do children say about the past and why? What factors influence when(or if) and how children disclose abuse? What’s the best way to question children about their eyewitness memories? How can knowledge of children’s cognitive and social development facilitate their participation in the legal system — a system designed for adults but that sees millions of children each year?

Malia Mason

Columbia University, USA

This is a photo of Malia Mason.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on two distinct areas of inquiry. First, I examine how the mind manages itself, with a particular focus on understanding how people intuitively decide where to channel their attention, how deeply to process information, and when to shift their attention elsewhere. My second line of research is devoted to exploring one key task that occupies, and indeed requires, much of human attention: understanding other people. In this area, I document and analyze the tactics that people use to understand and explain the attitudes and behavior of others. I explore these questions using both traditional behavioral approaches and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques.

Matthias R. Mehl

University of Arizona, USA

This is a photo of Matthias R. Mehl.

What does your research focus on? I am interested in the psychological implications of people’s everyday social lives. What do people do in their daily lives? And why do they do the things they do? In most of my research, I use a naturalistic observation sampling method, the Electronically Activated Recorder (or EAR), to track people’s moment-to-moment social behavior in the real world. The EAR is a digital audio recorder that periodically and unobtrusively records snippets of ambient sounds from participants’ immediate environments as they go about their days. That way, it produces an acoustic log of their social behaviors and interactions as they naturally unfold. My current research focuses on (1) individual differences in everyday social life and the role they play for understanding personality, culture, and gender and (2) how people use their everyday social lives for coping with upheavals (e.g., national disasters, personal illnesses).

Amori Yee Mikami

University of Virginia, USA

This is a photo of Amori Yee Mikami.

What does your research focus on? Nearly all people can remember someone from his or her own childhood who didn’t get along with the peer group. Yet, when asked why this child had difficulty, most people name behaviors within the disliked child as the source of the problem (e.g., that child couldn’t share; that child told lies). Few consider social contextual factors, such as prejudice in the peer group, or a peer climate that discourages inclusion, that also affect the likelihood that a child will be accepted. I am fascinated by the understudied idea that social contextual factors may influence peer relationships.

Kimberly Noble

Columbia University, USA

This is a photo of Kimberly Noble.

What does your research focus on? I study socioeconomic disparities in children’s neurocognitive development. Specifically, we’ve known for decades that there are broad differences in children’s cognitive development and academic achievement as a function of socioeconomic status, or SES. But while classic measures of academic achievement surely reflect the function of the brain, they are relatively uninformative concerning perturbations in specific cognitive and neural processes. A cognitive neuroscience approach, in contrast, reflects the fact that different neural structures and circuits support the development of distinct cognitive skills, improving our efforts to provide targeted educational interventions.

Catherine J. Norris

Dartmouth College, USA

What does your research focus on? I’m interested in how individuals differ in their responses to emotional stimuli, how these emotional responses are affected by social factors, and the consequences of these patterns of responding for mental and physical health. I’m currently pursuing these interests in three separate lines of research. First, I study basic emotional processes like the negativity bias, the propensity to respond stronger to unpleasant than to pleasant events, and how they differ across individuals. For example, we have found that neurotic individuals show larger and more extended skin conductance responses to emotional (particularly unpleasant) images, suggesting that they are both more reactive and less able to regulate their responses, a pattern that could affect physical health over the lifecourse. Second, I’m investigating emotional processes involved in social exclusion, or the feeling that one’s social connections are lacking. Using fMRI, we have found that both chronically lonely individuals and participants experiencing acute social exclusion in the laboratory show decreased activation of the mentalizing network (e.g., TPJ, mPFC) when viewing pictures of people in distress. Third, I’m applying some of my work on interactions between emotional and social cognitive processes to study race bias, or negative feelings toward outgroup members.

Lauri Nummenmaa

Aalto University, Finland

What does your research focus on? I study the brain basis of emotions and social cognition. Using the multimodal brain-imaging approach, I aim to understand the neural circuitry that enables us to navigate the social and physical world unharmed. In particular, I am interested in how the brain automatically processes the emotional and social cues conveyed by other people, and how this enables our brains to tune our behavior and mental processes to manage, for example, social interactions.

Kristina Olson

Yale University, USA

This is a photo of Kristina Olson.

What does your research focus on? My research sits at the intersection of social and developmental psychology, exploring the emergence and development of social cognition. My lab focuses on three primary areas: (1) the emergence and development of social group attitudes; (2) “strategic pro-sociality,” or the ways in which children are more or less helpful or generous in different contexts; and (3) children’s understanding of ideas and intellectual property.

Daniel M. Oppenheimer

Princeton University, USA

What drew you to this line of research? Why is it exciting to you? I wish I had better metacognition about what draws me to these sorts of projects. Really, I just do whatever projects grab my attention. At any given moment, there rarely seems to be any connection between the different projects I’m working on. But when I look back in hindsight there do seem to be common themes. Which just goes to show that metacognition is flawed (which is good, because that’s what my research suggests…).

Nickola Overall

University of Auckland, New Zealand

What does your research focus on? Intimate relationships can have immense benefits, such as when support from relationship partners protects individuals from stressful events and helps them reach their personal goals. Close relationships can also undermine psychological and physical wellbeing, such as when couples experience relationship conflict. My research investigates both the benefits and costs of intimate relationships, with a particular emphasis on the relative success of different communication strategies used when couples are trying to resolve relationship problems or support each other. This includes identifying what strategies help couples maintain healthy relationships versus those that lead to dissatisfaction and dissolution.

Betsy Levy Paluck

Princeton University, USA

What does your research focus on? I’m interested in prejudice and conflict reduction. I’m especially interested in developing and testing theory using field experiments with real world prejudice and conflict reduction interventions. I’ve worked with media interventions in post-conflict countries in Central and Horn of Africa, and with peer-influence interventions in high schools in the United States. All of this work has gotten me interested in the nature of social change more broadly. For example, some settings are so mired in conflict that it is considered “cultural.” I’m interested in psychological understandings of culture and cultural change, and how this connects to theories of behavioral and social norm change.

Angelica Ronald

Birkbeck University of London, UK

What does your research focus on? What causes people to have mental health problems across the lifespan. My research has so far focussed on neurodevelopmental disorders, in particular, autism spectrum conditions. I am just starting a new project on the causes of psychotic experiences in adolescence. Both of these projects involve a longitudinal twin design to estimate the role of genetic and environmental influences on these conditions, as well as molecular genetic association designs.  I have just set up the Genes Environment Lifespan (GEL) lab at Birkbeck and am excited by the great team of researchers I will be working with.

Robert Rydell

Indiana University Bloomington, USA

This is a photo of Robert Rydell.

What does your research focus on? I am currently engaged in two distinct lines of research. Members of my lab and I have been most interested recently in stereotype threat (individuals’ worries about confirming negative stereotypes about their ingroup). We have been examining the negative impact the pejorative stereotype that “women are bad at math” has on women’s mathematical learning, incidental learning, and executive functioning. My research has also focused on understanding and explaining how indirect (“implicit”) attitude measures can differ substantially from direct (“explicit”) attitude measures during attitude formation and in response to attempts at attitude change.

Gregory R. Samanez-Larkin

Vanderbilt University, USA

What does your research focus on? In general I am interested in how cognition and motivation develop and change over adulthood and into old age. Most of my recent work has specifically examined age-related change in learning and decision making — particularly related to finances. The larger goal of all of this work is to contribute to a more comprehensive model of human aging that integrates evidence and theory from psychology, neuroscience, and economics.

David A. Sbarra

University of Arizona, USA

What does your research focus on? My research is about how people recover from social separations and cope with loss experiences. I study divorce and romantic breakups as models for understanding how people deal with difficult or stressful life events in general. My research program has two main arms: (1) Prospective change: the variables that predict emotional recovery over time and the psychological mechanisms explain why some people do well or poorly in the wake of a loss experience, and (2) determining how psychological responses to loss are associated with health-relevant biological responses and the ways in which psychology and biology change together as people face difficult relationship transitions. With this basic foundation, there are many natural extensions of my research, and we study risk for major depression following divorce, the behavioral manifestations of attachment-related loss responses, gender differences in response to loss, and basic emotion regulation processes using multiple methods. As a clinical psychologist, I also have an abiding interest in using basic science to help improve the lives of people who are struggling with difficult relationship transitions.

Gaia Scerif

University of Oxford, UK

What does your research focus on? We live in complex multimodal environments, and yet even as infants we direct attention very efficiently to select what is relevant into memory, learning, and action selection. I am fascinated by processes of attentive learning, and therefore by the following questions: How do we come to learn what to attend to and how to control our attention to learn new information over developmental time? Why do some individuals really struggle to do so? What are the cascading consequences of attention differences over developmental time?

Susanne Scheibe

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

What does your research focus on? I study how emotional experience and emotion regulation change as people age, and how such changes affect important realms of life, such as work life. When looking at the many (mostly negative) changes that accompany aging, emotions clearly stand out. Emotional experience becomes more positive and more stable with age at least until people reach their 70s and 80s. This is actually surprising given that a large part of emotion regulation requires cognitive control, which declines more than other competencies with age. I am trying to understand the role of motivational and competence-related factors for the positive lifespan trajectory of emotion. For example, in one study we showed that older adults can be more efficient in regulating emotions than younger adults, as indicated by smaller cognitive costs. In my newest work, I started to investigate how emotional aging can support older adults’ well-being and performance in work contexts.

Lars Schwabe

Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

What does your research focus on? At the intersection of cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and endocrinology, my research focuses on how stressful experiences influence cognitive processes. In particular, I am interested in how stress and stress hormones shape our memories and how they affect the interactions of multiple, declarative and non-declarative memory systems.

Atsushi Senju

Birkbeck College, UK

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on the typical and atypical development of the “social brain” — the network of neural structures specialized to process the social world that enables us to learn effectively from, interact with, and influence the behavior of others. I want to understand how young infants achieve these amazing abilities and how these capacities shape the development of adult social skills. I am interested in the reasons why individuals with autism, a developmental disorder characterized by profound difficulties in social interaction and communication, have difficulties in developing effective social skills.

Chris Sibley

The University of Auckland, New Zealand

This is a photo of Chris Sibley.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on trying to understand how and why people use ideology to justify social inequality and group hierarchy. I am particularly interested in modeling how individual differences interact with situational factors in society to predict support for different ideologies (i.e. tolerance versus prejudice). I also have a special interest in developing theories tailored specifically to intergroup relations in New Zealand, where I am from.

Victoria Southgate

Birkbeck University, UK

What does your research focus on? I am interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms that enable young children, from early infancy, to interact with and learn from other people, and how these might differ from other species. We know a great deal about the kind of social abilities that even very young infants possess, but we know much less about the neural mechanisms that underpin these abilities. My current research investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms that enable infants to understand and predict the actions of others. Basic action understanding and prediction is a fundamental prerequisite for being able to learn from, and interact with, others.

Shannon Wiltsey Stirman

Boston University School of Medicine, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on the implementation of evidence based practices in mental health. I’m particularly interested in two areas: training and sustainability. My collaborators and I are trying to determine the best methods of training clinicians to deliver new treatments. We also need to know more about what makes implementation efforts successful over the long-term. I would like to identify the factors that are most central to sustaining evidence-based practices, so as a first step, I’ve been working on a systematic review of the literature on sustainability from other fields.

Karl Szpunar

Harvard University, USA

What does your research focus on? My research interests focus primarily upon, but are not limited to, understanding the cognitive and neural relations that underlie our capacity to remember personal past experiences and imagine personal future experiences.

Nicole Tausch

University of St. Andrews, UK

What does your research focus on? I’m generally interested in the psychological factors involved in intergroup relations, prejudice and discrimination, and group conflict. As part of my PhD, I investigated intergroup relations in Northern Ireland and India. I looked at how different types of perceived threats shape intergroup attitudes and how different forms of intergroup contact affect such threat perceptions. Working in contexts such as India where there are large disparities in status and power between groups increased my awareness of the role of group inequality in intergroup conflict and created an interest in the psychological processes involved in social change. This also led me to take a more critical look at intergroup contact as an intervention to reduce intergroup conflict and at prejudice reduction as an end in itself. My recent work on contact has therefore focused on the potentially counter-productive effects of contact for members of disadvantaged groups and demonstrated that contact may in fact decrease awareness of inequality and discrimination, and reduce willingness to act for social change among members of disadvantaged groups. Another current line of research investigates the factors that influence willingness to participate in political action. I’m particularly interested in finding out under which conditions people opt for non-normative as opposed to normative forms of action, and when they come to support methods such as violence and “terrorism” to address an injustice.

Peter F. Titzmann

University of Jena, Germany

What does your research focus on? The focus of my research is on the development of children and adolescents with a migration background and the interplay between normative development and migration-related adaptation. For example, we investigated specific acculturation-related hassles of adolescent immigrants in Israel and Germany that can add to the normative demands of adolescence. In two other studies we examined whether delinquency is predicted by the same or different factors among two groups, namely immigrant and native adolescents; we also compared the autonomy expectations of these two groups. A fourth core area has been the investigation of inter-ethnic friendships of immigrant adolescents.

Eddie Tong

National University of Singapore, Singapore

This is a photo of Eddie Tong.

What does your research focus on? I am interested in a wide range of topics, but my research centers on appraisal theories of emotion. I am also interested in the cognitive processes associated with different emotions. I first got into appraisal research in 1999 as a masters student in the National University of Singapore. Most appraisal studies up to that point were aimed at showing which emotion is associated with which appraisal. This is important, but I realized that more could be done.

Nash Unsworth

University of Oregon, USA

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on working memory, attention control, long-term memory retrieval and individual differences in those processes. In particular, our work focuses on how individuals rely on attention to actively maintain information over the short term and how they retrieve information from long-term memory when that information could not be maintained. Furthermore, a major focus of our work is to examine individual differences in these processes and to determine how they are related to higher-order cognitive processes such as intelligence and reasoning.

Maarten Vansteenkiste

Ghent University, Belgium

Maarten Vansteenkiste

What does your research focus on? I focus on motivational dynamics in my research. I am to understand how different reasons for engaging in an activity and pursuing different goals are related to outcomes, such as performance, persistence, learning, and well-being. Often, it is assumed that better outcomes will follow when people are more strongly motivated to engage in an activity. Yet, research findings show that it is critical to consider the type of motivation (i.e., autonomous or controlled) and the type of goals (i.e., intrinsic or extrinsic) people have for engaging in an activity to understand whether they will be productive, engaged, and persistent. Through my research, I try to expand Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Deci, 2000), a well-known and empirically validated motivation theory. I have been using SDT as a source of inspiration to study motivational dynamics in a variety of life domains including education, parenting, psychotherapy, ecology, work and unemployment, and sports and exercise.

Simine Vazire

Washington University in St. Louis

What does your research focus on? My research examines people's knowledge about their own personalities.  Do people know how they behave? Do they know how others see them? I examine the discrepancies between how people see themselves and how others see them, and try to determine who is more accurate.  I also examine whether people are aware of these discrepancies, and if so, how do they justify them? Finally, I'm curious about the processes that lead to these discrepancies – why do others sometimes know us better than we know ourselves?

Essi Viding

University College London, UK

This is a photo of Essi Viding.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on understanding different developmental pathways to persistent antisocial behavior. I have a particular interest in a subgroup of children who not only have behavioral problems, but also have callous-unemotional traits.

Greg Walton

Stanford University, USA

This is a photo of Greg Walton.

What does your research focus on? One of my main interests involves how the important contents of people’s selves — like their interests, motivations, and emotions — which people tend to think of as defining of or as originating in themselves, in fact derive from the social context, especially from others they know or are socially connected to. With my collaborators, I’ve looked at this in the context of academic motivation and achievement. We’ve shown, for example, that even subtle cues of social connection or disconnection to others in a field of study can have a large effect on intrinsic motivation for that field. Much of this research relates to problems of inequality, such as how negative stereotypes and stigma change the social environment of academic settings for minority group members in ways that can undermine students’ feelings of belonging and achievement. In addition, I am broadly interested in psychological interventions — what I call “wise interventions” — strategies to target specific psychological processes to improve important real-world outcomes like academic achievement, health, well-being, intergroup relations, and political and environmental behaviors. Related to this, I’m interested in the interface of psychological processes and policy problems, as in the case of affirmative action.

Yana Weinstein

Washington University in St. Louis, USA

What does your research focus on? I have very broad interests, but most of my research converges on the misperceptions we hold with regards to our cognitive functions. Examples of this include: false memory – how is it that we can come to believe we saw something that didn’t happen?; evaluations of test performance – what factors can influence whether we are optimistic or pessimistic about our performance on a test?; and study time allocation – why don’t we allocate more study time to material that is more likely to be forgotten?

Savio Wong

Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on examining body and brain interaction and its role in decision making. My studies integrate psychophysiological measurements with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the cortical modulation of the autonomic nervous system during decision making. Recently, I expanded my research into educational neuroscience. My recent study examines the role of education in shaping the development of the neural substrate that is involved in decision making. It is an exciting collaboration with Sheung-Tak Cheng and Rebecca Cheng at the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd). Our goal is to advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms of learning and to develop biomarkers that can help teachers to identify and address the individual needs of students more effectively.

Tal Yarkoni

University of Colorado at Boulder

This is a photo of Tal Yarkoni.

What does your research focus on? Most of my current research focuses on what you might call psychoinformatics: the application of information technology to psychology, with the aim of advancing our ability to study the human mind and brain. I’m interested in developing new ways to acquire, synthesize, and share data in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Some of the projects I’ve worked on include developing new ways to measure personality more efficiently, adapting computer science metrics of string similarity to visual word recognition, modeling fMRI data on extremely short timescales, and conducting large-scale automated synthesis of published neuroimaging findings.

Lisa Zadro

University of Sydney, Australia

This is a photo of Lisa Zadro.

What does your research focus on? My research focuses on ostracism, the act of being excluded and ignored. I literally get to ignore people for a living.

Hanna Zagefka

Royal Holloway University of London, UK


What does your research focus on? My research focuses on intergroup relations, particularly acculturation and other phenomena affecting ethnic minorities. More recently, I have started to investigate predictors of charitable donations, a line of work I am currently very excited about. I approach this topic from an intergroup perspective — how do group memberships increase or reduce prosociality towards those in need?