Social Psychology PhD Students

  Student   Affiliations Bio Research question (one per lab)
Vivienne Badaan Social Vivienne is a first year PhD student working primarily with Prof. John Jost. She received a BA in Psychology with a minor in Biology (2010), as well as an MA in Psychology (2012) from the American University of Beirut (AUB), her thesis focusing on prejudice against Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from an intergroup threat theory perspective. Prior to joining NYU, Vivienne was a research consultant at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, working on policy-related issues with the Participation and Social Justice section at the commission. She has written on political participation and social justice issues in the Arab region during and in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. She also taught Psychology at two major universities in Beirut, Lebanon. She is primarily interested in system justification in the Middle East, and religiosity as a system-justifying ideology. She is also broadly interested in the psychology of protest, collective action, and social change.
William Brady Social Billy is a fourth-year Ph.D. student. Before NYU, he received his B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Then, he got an M.A. in "Neurophilosophy" from Georgia State University and was a visiting researcher in Stanford's affective science department. Billy is generally interested in how emotions regulate social interactions, particularly in the realm of morality. How do people influence each others' moral beliefs through emotion? (with Jay Van Bavel) Why do people seek negative emotion experiences? (with David Amodio)
Jeff Brooks Social Jeff Brooks is a first year PhD student at NYU working with Jon Freeman. He received his BA from Tufts University in 2012, after which he worked as a research assistant at Duke University and as a lab manager in Kristen Lindquist’s lab at UNC Chapel Hill. Jeff is interested in the neural mechanisms that support the influence of conceptual knowledge and top-down social processes on lower-level perceptual experiences, particularly in the context of social categorization and emotion. He is also broadly interested in exploring the role of domain-general intrinsic brain networks in social perception and evaluative processes. What neural systems support the influence of abstract social information on perception? To what extent is the intrinsic connectivity of the brain organized around social perception and evaluative processes?
Crystal Clarke Social Crystal is a ​fourth year doctoral student. She graduated from ​Amherst College​ in 2011 with a Bachelor's​ in Psychology. ​Her research interests include studying, police-minority relations, egalitarianism, stigmatized identities and how prejudice orchestrates intergroup relations. Can the racial homogeneity of liberal, egalitarian movements inadvertently lead to more racial inequality via implicit re-conceptualizations of race and inequality? (Tessa West and Eric Knowles)
Christina Crosby Social Christina first earned a BA in marketing from the University of Missouri - St. Louis and while working in the world of advertising became increasing interested in the underlying motivations behind people's behavior. She receiving her BA in psychology in 2013, and joined NYU's doctoral program fall of that year. She works primarily with Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer to investigate the gap between intentions/desires and actual behavior, particularly the role of expectations. What factors interrupt the expectancy-motivation relationship; more specifically, how can people who have low expectations remain engaged with difficult but important goals?
Jenny DePierre Social

Jenny grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and received her B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University in 2010. She spent 2 years working at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity studying weight stigma, and started her Ph.D. at NYU in the fall of 2012. Jenny is broadly interested in prejudice and stigma from the perspective of both the target and the perceiver, as well as in how perceived discrimination contributes to ill health.

How does intergroup anxiety affect the expression of racial bias? (with David Amodio)

Pia Dietze Social

Pia was born and raised in Germany and she received a B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2011. She began her PhD in the Fall of 2013, working primarily with Eric Knowles on topics related to intergroup conflict and social inequality.

How does our socioeconomic status/social class influence our cognitions, behaviors, and attitudes? Is social class a form of group identity and how can we study it empirically? How do people make sense of intergroup disparities and how do they perceive/explain their status in the social hierarchy?

Ana Gantman Social Ana received her B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard University in the Spring of 2010. She began her PhD at NYU in the Fall of the same year, working primarily with Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen.  Given that one of the differences between conscious and nonconscious goal pursuit is awareness of the goal intention, what consequences does realizing that our actions are unexplainable by our explicit intentions have?  What role does motivation play in the perception of moral events? 
Yael Granot  Social Yael received her B.A. in psychology from Vassar College. She is currently a 2nd year doctoral student working primarily with Emily Balcetis. How do our group identifications influence our visual perceptions of the environment? What are the consequences of such visual biases on legal decision-making? (with Emily Balcetis). 
Leor Hackel Social Leor received his BS in Neuroscience & Behavior from Columbia University and began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2011. Leor is interested in how social identity, context, and motivation impact social perception, at cognitive and neural levels of analysis. How do motivation and social identity impact how we attribute minds to others (with Jay Van Bavel)?
Anne Hill Social Anne graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in Psychology in the summer of 2012 before spending two years as a lab manager at the University of Oregon for Dr. Jennifer Pfeifer and Dr. Elliot Berkman. She entered the Social Psychology program at NYU in the fall of 2014 and primarily works in Dr. David Amodio's Social Neuroscience Lab. How can social neuroscience inform the development of a mechanistic model of intergroup conflict? When are individuals internally or externally motivated to regulate psychological biases that perpetuate conflict?
Alexa Hubbard Social Alexa received her B.A. from Columbia University in English literature and psychology. She is currently a PhD student working primarily with Yaacov Trope. What is the role of psychological distance in the the construal of mental simulations?
Leland Jasperse Social Lee received his BA in Psychology and English literature from UCLA in 2013. He spent two additional years at UCLA as a lab manager for Drs. Cindy Yee-Bradbury and Gregory Miller before entering NYU's Social Psychology program in 2015. Lee is broadly interested in the cognitive, motivational, and neural mechanisms involved in person perception and evaluation, particularly the control processes engaged when individuals regulate implicit stereotypes during social decision making.
David Kalkstein Social David received his BA in sociology and psychology from Cornell University in 2011. He is a graduate student at NYU working primarily with Yaacov Trope. What are the psychological mechanisms that allow us to learn from, communicate with, and relate to other people? (with Yaacov Trope) How do people behave in ways that are consistent with their long term goals and interests when presented with conflicting short term rewards? (with Yaacov Trope and Emily Balcetis). How does the context in which we encounter an object inform the inferences we draw from our observation that object? (with Greg Murphy and with Yaacov Trope)
Brenna Malta Social Brenna received her BA in psychology from UC Santa Barbara in 2012. Before coming to NYU in 2014, she worked as a lab manager in Brenda Major's Self & Social Identity lab at UCSB. At NYU, she works with Tessa West investigating issues related to socioeconomic status, intergroup relations, and culture. . How does socioeconomic status influence interpersonal and intergroup processes?
Melanie Langer Social Melanie received a B.S. in Psychology with a focus on Philosophy from Yale University and an M.A. in French Cultural Studies from Columbia University. She is a second-year Ph.D. student in John Jost's lab and is interested in how underlying needs and ideological differences motivate positions on particular issues and behavior. What are the motivational antecedents of collective action (with John Jost)? What ideological differences exist in message scrutiny and persuasion (with John Jost and Eric Knowles)? What ideological differences exist in response to threat (with Emily Balcetis)? What form of moral reasoning do people engage in intuitively?
Francesca Manzi Social Francesca received her Psychology degree from Universidad Católica de Chile in 2007. From 2007 to 2010 she worked as research coordinator at MIDE UC, the research center for the psychology department at Universidad Catolica. In 2010, Francesca moved to New York to work in Dr. Madeline Heilman’s lab and in 2012 she began her Ph.D. in Social Psychology. Francesca is generally interested in stereotypes and prejudice, particularly in the case of gender. She works primarily with Dr. Heilman. How do gender-based expectations affect perceptions of competence for women in male-dominated fields? (with Madeline Heilman)
Hannah Nam   Hannah received her B.A. in Psychology from Wesleyan University in 2008. She began her PhD in 2010, working primarily with John Jost. What are the psychological mechanisms and motivations that underlie both resistance to and support for change, especially under circumstances in which the existing social, economic, and political arrangements are characterized by inequality and intergroup conflict (with John Jost)? What are the neuro-cognitive correlates of political ideology, attitudes, and behaviors (with John Jost and Jay Van Bavel)?
Jennifer Ray Social Jenny received her BA in psychology and political science from Williams College and began her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2009.  She is broadly interested in studying the psychology of morality, punishment, and legal decision-making. In her research, Jenny tries to understand the antecedents and consequences of moral outrage.

How does the inducement of moral (versus non-moral) evaluative modes impact reactions to taboo-tradeoffs and punitive judgments? (with Jay Van Bavel) How do role assignments and framing enhance or attenuate affective reactions in the context of legal decision-making? (with Jay Van Bavel & Dominic Packer) How do descriptive and prescriptive gender stereotypes impact perceptions of guilt and assigned punishment? (with Madeline Heilman) What triggers the ascription of evilness in perpetrators of harms and what are the consequences of its ascription to retributive and procedural justice concerns? (with Tom Tyler)

Katherine Thorson Social Kate earned her B.A. in Psychology from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, in 2010. Upon graduation, she joined the Emotion, Health and Psychophysiology Lab, directed by Wendy Berry Mendes, where she worked for a year as the lab manager. She entered the doctoral program at NYU in the fall of 2011. How do emotions and stress influence self-regulation? What are the physiological mechanisms underlying goal setting and striving? (Gollwitzer and Oettingen)
Yanitsa Toneva Social Yana is originally from Bulgaria, and she received her B.S. in psychology from Saint Peter’s University. She joined NYU as a first year doctoral student in the fall of 2014. How do motivation and self-regulation affect achievement? (with Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen)
Diego Reinero Social Diego received his B.S. in Psychology and Business from Skidmore College in 2012. He spent several years working in various psychology labs – Prof. Paul Bloom’s at Yale University, Prof. Daniel Gilbert’s at Harvard University – and spent considerable time working for Dr. Helen Riess at the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Mass. General Hospital. Diego began his Ph.D. at NYU in 2015, working with Prof. Jay Van Bavel. Diego is most interested in studying how we imagine the experience of others, and how it shapes our moral decisions and intergroup behaviors. How do we imagine the experience of others? And how does it shape our moral decisions and intergroup behaviors?
John Sciarappo Social John graduated from Queens College, CUNY with a BA in Psychology and went on to earn an MA in General Psychology at NYU. In 2013, he began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU. How does imagining the pursuit and attainment of goals and desired futures affect cognition, motivation, and self-regulation? (with Peter Gollwitzer and Oettingen)
Bryan Sim Social Bryan received his B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He entered the doctoral program in 2012, and is advised primarily by Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer. Bryan is interested in basic motivational processes, and is currently researching unconscious competitive behavior. When do we compete, and what makes us do it? How does competition affect the way we set and pursue our goals? What happens to us, psychologically and socially, when we compete?
Joanna Sterling Social Joanna received her BA in Psychology and International and Area Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. She is a first year graduate student at NYU working primarily with John Jost. How do cognitive limitations in category formation influence individuals’ conceptions of political categories? (John Jost) How do non-elite political party members perceive the individuals who identify with the opposing party? How do these perceptions influence communication strategies? (Eric Knowles and Tessa
Chadly Stern Social Graduated with BA in Psychology from NYU in 2011. How does a person's political ideology shape social perception processes, such as social categorization and consensus estimation? (with Tessa West and John Jost)?
Ben Stillerman Social Ben received a B.S. in Cognitive Science from UC San Diego before working as a research coordinator in Gina Kuperberg's NeuroCognition Lab at Tufts University and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a first year doctoral student working with Jonathan Freeman and David Amodio. How do stereotypes and prejudice influence how we place others into social groups? (Freeman) How do the various neural mechanisms behind intergroup bias rely on different types of long term memory? (Amodio)
Ryan Stolier Social Ryan completed his MA in Social Psychology working with Melody Sadler at San Diego State University. He then began his PhD at Dartmouth college working with Jon Freeman, who he is continuing his doctoral training with at New York University. Ryan is broadly interested in the architecture and dynamics of systems underlying visual person perception. To investigate this, his research primarily examines top-down influences on face perception, such as how motivations and prior knowledge impact social category and trait representation. His work applies both behavioral and functional neuroimaging methods to these questions. Face perceptions seamlessly leads to social categorizations (e.g., Black), and elicits common stereotypes about that category (e.g., Athletic). How are the various levels of this process hierarchically organized in the brain (e.g., visual face cues, social categories, stereotypes), and how do they dynamically interact neurally?
Rugile Tuskeviciute Social Rugile graduated with a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2010. She is a first year graduate student working primarily with Susan Andersen.  How can the transference process be regulated, and its downstream consequences prevented? (Susan Andersen)
Jenny Xiao Social Jenny received her BA in psychology and biology from Bard College and began her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2010, working with Professor Jay Van Bavel and Professor Yaacov Trope. Jenny is broadly interested in studying social categorization, social identity, stereotyping and prejudice. In her research, Jenny tries to understand intergroup relations and interactions by exploring how high-level social psychological constructs such as social identity can alter low-level cognitive and perceptual processes. Jenny’s primary line of research with Jay Van Bavel seeks to understand how our social identity and intergroup threat work in concert to shape our perceptual and representational experience of physical reality—particularly physical distance—which could in turn lead to detrimental consequences in intergroup relations and interactions.  How does high-level social psychological constructs such as social identity alter low-level cognitive and perceptual processes? How flexible is our perceptual and representational systems and to what degree are they sensitive to top-town influences? What are the psychological mechanisms through which intergroup threats lead to intergroup consequences such as discrimination? How are different dimensions of distance (e.g, social distance) represented in the human brain?
Joy Xu Social Joy received her B.S. in Psychology and Biology from Carnegie Mellon University where she worked in Dr. Brooke Feeney’s Relationships lab. Now at NYU she primarily works with Patrick Shrout in the Couples lab. Her interests are in the processes involved in maintaining close relationships. Her current projects include studying fluctuations and change in attachment anxiety over time, as well as investigating how attachment and perceived support are associated with an individual’s engagement in exploration. Joy also works with Professor Susan Andersen, examining the occurrence of transference in ongoing romantic relationships. How do attachment orientation and perceived availability of support predict personal exploration? (Pat Shrout) Can Transference occur in the context of an on-going relationship and if so, with what consequences? (Susan Andersen)
Qi Xu Social I was born and raised in Mainland China. I received my B.S. in Applied psychology from Shanghai Normal University in 2012. Then, I began my master at NYU in the fall of 2012, where I primarily work with Pat Shrout in Couples Lab in a project about cultural differences and social support provision. After getting an M.A. in "general psychology", I began my PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2014 and continue to work with Pat. I am interested in not only teasing apart unique contextual and cultural influences on social support but also exploring other relevant questions in close relationships. Under which conditions are people more likely to offer social support? In terms of visible and invisible social support, under what conditions do they have costs and benefits? Do they depend on different severities and types of stressors? Can we generalize current relationship research results to people with different cultural backgrounds?
Julian Wills Social Julian is a third-year PhD student working with Dr. Jay Van Bavel. Before NYU, Julian graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia. Broadly speaking, his research draws on a variety of techniques (e.g., neuroimaging, big data) to inform our understanding of prosocial behavior, morality, and ideology. Julian’s current projects investigate (1) the neural processes that guide cooperation and (2) moral cognition, as well as how (3) political ideology impacts generosity and (4) emotional contagion. How do our brains choose right and wrong? Between self-interest and self-sacrifice? And how do our group affiliations and ideology modulate these preferences?
Marika Sylvie
Social Marika received her BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in the Spring of 2011.  She is currently a first year doctoral student working primarily with Pat Shrout. 
What are the positive functions of relationship conflict and under what conditions do they occur? How do we negotiate between the immediate costs and potential benefits of engaging in conflict in our close relationships?
Daniel Yudkin Social Daniel is a fifth year graduate student studying with Profs. Yaacov Trope and Jay Van Bavel. He graduated from Williams College in 2008 and was a Fellow at Harvard University from 2012-2014. In 2009 he then attended music conservatory in Paris, earning a degree in jazz piano performance. He lives in Brooklyn. How does group membership affect people's moral decisions? What can people learn about themselves from dissimilar others? When will kids pay to punish someone who has broken the rules? How can institutions encourage ethical leadership?

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