2017 - Olivia Atherton, University of California, Davis
Antecedents and Consequences of Effortful Control from Late Childhood to Young Adulthood
Why do some individuals develop the capacity to effectively regulate their behavior, whereas others have difficulty controlling their impulses and consistently succumb to temptation? My research examines the antecedents and consequences of the temperamental trait of effortful control. Using multi-method longitudinal data spanning ages 10 to 20, I have documented numerous psychological, familial, and sociocultural influences on effortful control, as well as how effortful control co-develops with delinquency, school behavioral problems, and psychiatric disorders.
2017 – Andrew G. Christy, Texas A&M University
Perceptions of Persons and their Purposes: Teleology and Inferences About Personal Identity
Five studies test whether teleological (i.e., purpose-based) intuitions explain the belief that persons’ true selves are morally good. Specific hypotheses are that moral traits are perceived as more purpose-related and identity-relevant than other traits (Study 1), that manipulations of general and specific teleological beliefs will affect identity-related judgments (Studies 2 and 3), and that effects of moral changes on identity-related judgments will depend on whether those changes affect persons’ purposive activity (Studies 4A and 4B).
2017 – Jason Deska, Miami University
They’re all the same to me: Homogeneous groups are denied mind
Although ascribing sophisticated, human-like minds to others is central to social cognition and behavior, dehumanization is an all-too-common phenomenon. My dissertation investigates a specific characteristic of groups—homogeneity—that may influence dehumanizing judgments. Specifically, my dissertation research examines whether homogeneous groups are dehumanized compared to heterogeneous groups and the extent to which this homogeneity-based dehumanization leads to both decreased prosocial and increased antisocial behavior.
2017 – Franki Kung, University of Waterloo
Lay Theories of Goal Models
Being able to regulate multiple goals effectively is essential for well-being, yet how people think about the relations among their goals is not well understood. My dissertation examines individuals’ lay theories of goal models (i.e., beliefs about the organizing principles of their multiple goals: hierarchical, network, sequential) and their diverse implications for self-regulation effectiveness. This research aims to advance the literature on goals and self-regulation and to promote success in critical self-regulatory challenges.
2017 – Randi Proffitt Leyva, Texas Christian University
Examining the Impact of Childhood Environmental Unpredictability on Ghrelin Dysregulation
My previous research focused on the relationship between childhood unpredictability, body awareness, and eating in the absence of hunger (EAH). EAH is a major factor influencing obesity. In my dissertation, I will extend this work by examining whether childhood unpredictability impacts EAH through adaptive calibration of a hormonal mechanism, specifically ghrelin, commonly known as “the hunger hormone.” This work will contribute to a growing body of literature using an evolutionary perspective to better understand the adaptive utility of seemingly maladaptive health behaviors.
2017 – Chelsea Schein, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Beyond Nasty Women & Deplorables: Bridging Political Divides by Focusing on the Common Denominator of Harm
Political polarization is a prevalent and increasingly salient challenge in the United States. While liberals and conservatives hold opposing moral views, a new theory of moral psychology, the Theory of Dyadic Morality, suggests that these views are unified by a common denominator of harm. This dissertation tests whether appeals to this common denominator reduces the dehumanization of political opponents and increases willingness to engage in bipartisan conversations.
2017 – Haran Sened, Bar Ilan University
Improving couples’ empathic accuracy: development of a brief intervention and analysis of its effects.
Empathic Accuracy (EA) is the extent to which people correctly identify others' thoughts and feelings. Previous research has suggested that EA might be important for romantic partners. My aim is to develop a brief intervention which can increase couples' EA towards one another by motivating them to be more accurate and giving them appropriate feedback. This intervention will be tested in a lab setting and, through a diary study, in couples' daily lives.
2017 – Vivian P. Ta, University of Texas at Arlington
Opposing Attitudes in Controversial Discussions: The Role of Latent Semantic Similarity in Computer-Mediated Interactions
Technology has made it easier to engage in discussions with diverse others via computer-mediated communication. However, negative behaviors (e.g., flaming) can often occur in this type of interaction. Theories of conflict communication suggest that this stems from the inability to develop latent semantic similarity, an essential process in the establishment of common-ground understanding. My dissertation tests this theory and identifies the characteristics that influence the development of common-ground understanding in contentious text-based computer-mediated discussions.
2017 – Sarah Ward, University of Missouri
Gender, Emotion, and Morality
Gender differences in morality have been debated throughout history, yet they remain poorly understood. Do women and men differ in their propensity towards immoral personally-advantageous actions like lying to get ahead or cheating to win money? Using a mix of correlational and experimental designs, my dissertation research examines whether gender differences in emotional experiences (i.e., empathy; guilt/shame proneness) account for potential disparities in moral decision-making.
2017 – Marika Yip- Bannicq, New York University
Construal Enhanced Conflict Management: The Role of Abstraction in the Regulation of Conflict in Romantic Relationships
How romantic couples engage in conflict is essentially tied to both individual and relationship well-being, yet the socio-cognitive mechanisms of constructive conflict management are not well understood. My dissertation tests the proposition that high level construals facilitate constructive conflict management by investigating the influence of adopting a high versus low level construal of one’s relationships on how couples approach, engage in and resolve important conflicts and regulate relationship conflict in daily life.
2016 - William Brady, New York University
Moral Contagion: How Emotion Shapes Diffusion of Moral Ideas in Social Networks
My dissertation explores what factors makes moral and political ideas most likely to spread to others. Specifically, I use a combination of behavioral, psychophysiological and social media methods to investigate 'moral contagion', or the process by which morally-framed emotion expression leads to greater diffusion of ideas in social networks. In the dissertation I also study the psychological processes that underlie moral contagion and its boundary conditions.
2016 - Kassandra Cortes, University of Waterloo
Perceiving Relationship Success through a Motivational Lens: A Regulatory Focus Perspective
In my dissertation research, I am examining how the qualities that contribute to relationship success depend on the motivational (regulatory focus) orientation of the individual. In initial studies I found that promotion-focused people value growth-related qualities in their relationships, while prevention-focused people prioritize security-related qualities. I am now examining how the same relationship-enhancing intervention can be framed in different ways to serve both growth and security needs. The goal of this research is to better understand what makes relationships work (and work better).
2016 - Brittany Jakubiak, Carnegie Mellon University
Hand-in-hand combat: An experimental test of affectionate touch to promote relational well-being and buffer stress during couple conflict
Romantic couples benefit from having constructive rather than destructive conflicts, but there have been limited attempts to influence conflict behaviors and to reduce the stress of relational conflicts using non-intensive interventions. My dissertation research will test experimentally whether engaging in affectionate touch (i.e., holding hands) before and during a conflict promotes positive relational behaviors and perceptions and buffers the stress of the conflict.
2016 - Jinhyung Kim, Texas A&M University
In Pursuit of Existential Meaning: Motivation to Search for Meaning Facilitates Experiential Purchases Over Material Purchases
People are fundamentally motivated to search for meaning, but what do people actually do when they want to find meaning in their lives? My dissertation aims to illuminate types of daily activities people engage in as they are motivated to search for meaning. Specifically, my dissertation research examines whether the motivation to search for meaning fosters the preference for experiential purchases (e.g., going to European vacation) over material purchases (e.g., buying jewelry). The potential increase in meaning in life via experiential purchases may be driven by multiple underlying mechanisms such as social relatedness, competence, intrinsic motivation, true self-knowledge, and positive affect.
2016 - Yeonjeong Kim, Carnegie Mellon University
Detecting the Moral Character of Strangers: The Hidden Information Distribution and Evaluation (HIDE) Model
The ability to correctly judge other people’s moral character—their disposition to think, feel, and behave ethically—allows us to predict and possibly prevent unethical behaviors that harm individuals and society. My dissertation proposes a new theoretical framework of person perception—the HIDE mode—, and uses this framework to develop a battery of interview questions designed to covertly reveal strangers’ moral character through their spontaneous written responses. I examine the validity of these interview-based moral character judgments by testing how well they predict unethical behaviors.
2016 - Erin Westgate, University of Virginia
Why Boredom is Interesting
What is boredom, why do we experience it, and what happens when we do? According to the Motivational and Attentional Components (MAC) model, we feel bored when we can't successfully engage our attention in meaningful activities. We may not enjoy it, but boredom gives us important feedback about our lives; it tells us whether we want to and are able to do something. My dissertation proposes and tests this new model of state boredom.
2016 - Ashley Whillans, The University of British Columbia
Exchanging cents for seconds: The happiness benefits of choosing time over money
In a typical day and across a lifetime, people face trade-offs related to time and money. These trade-offs play a role in major decisions such as whether to choose a higher paying career that demands longer hours (vs. making less money and having more free time) and in mundane decisions, such as whether to spend a Saturday afternoon cleaning gutters (or paying someone else to do it). My dissertation examines the (1) happiness benefits of choosing time over money and explores (2) how to help people use their money to buy themselves more and better time.
2015 - Jeffrey Bowen, University of California, Santa Barbara
2015 - David Chester, University of Kentucky
2015 - Allison Farrell, University of Minnesota
2015 - Nicole Lawless DesJardins, University of Oregon
2015- Chadly Stern, New York University
2015 - Konstantin Tskhay, University of Toronto
- Alyssa Croft, University of British Columbia
- Patrick Forscher, University of Wisconsin
- Nathan Hudson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign