Research

Have you ever wondered why people behave like they do? What has led humans to think in certain ways, to care about some things and not others, to make decisions that sometimes seem irrational? In our lab, we explore how adaptive psychological mechanisms drive perception, decision-making, and behavior. As a result, our minds act and react often without great conscious awareness. That is, much of what we think about (or don’t think about), the decisions we make (or not), and the (dis)satisfaction we have with those decisions are not matters of deep deliberation. Instead, a fundamental set of evolved predispositions interacts with features of our environments to shape our actions.  In approaching behavior from this perspective, our lab’s research has concentrated on interpersonal cognition and decision-making — how and why people think, prefer, choose, and act with or because of each other — although more recently, we have begun investigating how our understanding of the self is shaped as well.

Our lab studies a wide range of processes, but typically with a focus on threat management. We are interested in how people respond to and cope with ecological threats, including those related to infectious disease, mortality, resources, social rejection, and romantic interaction.

Some of the specific topics we study:

  • Infectious disease psychology (behavioral & physiological immune system effects)
  • Person perception
  • Sensory processing
  • Threat-reduction mechanisms
  • Consumer decision-making