Our Research

The Social Neuroscience Laboratory studies the mechanisms of social cognition and self-regulation. We take an integrative social neuroscience approach and focus on how these processes relate to social issues.

How do we perceive and form impressions of people? And how are these perceptions influenced by our emotions, goals, and social roles, as well as by the other person's social category?

Moreover, how to we make effective decisions and act appropriately in the face of biases, distractions, obstacles, or impulses?

We address these questions as they relate to social issues such as prejudice and stereotyping, politics, and power. Our broad goal is to illuminate the basic mechanisms of social cognition and self-regulation in the mind and brain while helping to address pressing societal problems.

We have pursued our core research goals in multiple domains and with a variety of methods, from our research on implicit prejudice and stereotyping, social category effects on face perception, and the instrumental learning of traits and attitudes, to our work on the neural underpinnings of cognitive control as it relates to prejudice, power, and politics. 

Our research integrates theory from social psychology, cognition, cognitive/affective neuroscience, psychophysiology, and psychoneuroimmunology to inform our ideas and experimental designs. We always choose the methods that best suit our theoretical question, and these often include combinations of self-report measures, behavioral paradigms, computational modeling, neuroimaging (fMRI/EEG/ERP), and psychophysiological assessments. 

Current research topics include:

  • Motivated perception of faces as a mechanism of self-regulation--that is, how people's motivations lead them to see people in a way that will justify their (often discriminatory) actions
  • Effects of resource scarcity on the encoding of racial minority faces and its effect on economic decisions
  • Effects of social anxiety on implicit bias and cognitive control
  • Social power effects on control, reward learning, and economic decision making
  • Proactive (anticipatory) forms of control and its interplay with reactive (i.e., corrective) control mechanisms 
  • The Memory Systems Model of implicit social cognition, and its predictions regarding the separable effects of  implicit stereotyping and  prejudice on behavior
  • Roles of approach vs. withdrawal motivation and guilt in regulating prejudiced behavior
  • Relation of political attitudes with neural mechanisms of motivation and inhibition

Interested in getting involved in this research? Email the lab at: join.snlab@gmail.com.