My work focuses on the role that adaptive psychological mechanisms play in consumption and decision-making environments.
This typically involves influences on thoughts and decisions that act outside of conscious awareness. 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 is not a matter of rational deliberation. Instead, a long history of evolved predispositions interacts with subtle features of our
environments to color our actions. Our mental and social lives as people and consumers are influenced by these forces in many ways we have yet to discover. In approaching behavior from
this perspective, my research has concentrated on interpersonal cognition -- how and why people automatically coordinate their thoughts, feelings, decisions and behaviors with each other.
Some of my current projects include:
on how vicarious processing (through mental simulation and self-other
overlap) can produce cognitive mimicry effects in both self-regulation and
on how sensitivity to contagious disease influences perceptions of others, and perceptions
of ourselves. For instance, contagion concerns can alter people's preferences for new and
on how incidental sensory experiences (especially relating to touch) influences
impression formation, decision making and social perception.
on goal priming - activating goals through incidental means in an attempt to understand
their subtle action perception and behavior. For instance, one project investigates the role
of environmental sex ratios, and how being surrounded by more men or more women affects
short-term and long-term thinking.
on early-stage cognitive processes (e.g., visual attention, working and recognition
memory) as a function of interpersonal threats. In particular, I have focused on
signals of physical threat, including emotional expressions and physical disfigurement.
These signals can also cause spillover in the processing of other objects and people in
the local environment.
on cooperative behavior strategies in romantic courtship settings. I am also
interested in applying the findings from this paradigm to non-romantic contexts.