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.
Jeffrey Berg Social Jeff is a first-year Ph.D. student. He received his B.A. in Cognitive Science and Political Science from Carleton College. Before coming to NYU, he spent two years as a research technician in the Memory & Cognition Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. At NYU, he hangs out in the Social Neuroscience Lab, and is interested in how we form, maintain, and change our attitudes in the consumer, moral, political, and social domains. How do different types of learning uniquely influence the formation of implicit and explicit attitudes? (with David Amodio)
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 ​fifth year doctoral student. She graduated from ​Amherst College​ in 2011 with a Bachelor's​ in Psychology. ​Her research interests include studying police-minority relations, unconscious bias, egalitarianism, stigmatized identities and how prejudice orchestrates intergroup relations. How do black youth respond to police stimuli? How do differences in ethnic identity influence perceptions of the police? (Pat Shrout 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, after which she worked as a research assistant at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity studying weight stigma. She started her Ph.D. at NYU in 2012. Jenny is broadly interested in implicit bias in the context of intergroup anxiety and perceptions of socioeconomic status, as well as the role of social identity threat in intergroup relations and conflict. How do optimal distinctiveness threats to collective identity affect intergroup relations? (with Eric Knowles) How does intergroup anxiety affect attention and implicit bias? (with David Amodio) How do gender and obesity stereotypes affect perceptions of women in the workplace? (with Madeline Heilman)
Sarah DiMuccio Social Sarah DiMuccio is a first-year PhD student working with Eric Knowles and John Jost. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Dickinson College in 2015. Her research interests include precarious manhood beliefs and behaviors and the relationship between precarious manhood and political ideology.
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 social class, social status/power, politics and intergroup relations. 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?
Yasaman Ghodse-Elahi Social Yasaman is a first-year Ph.D. student at NYU, working primarily with Dr. Pat Shrout. She received her B.Sc. in Psychology with a minor in Buddhism and Mental Health from the University of Toronto in 2015. Yasaman is generally interested in bridging the gap between sex research and research on romantic relationships. How do couples navigate conflict resolution, social comparisons, and decision making in the context of sex in romantic relationships? (with Pat Shrout)
Shahrzad Goudarzi Social Shahrzad is a first-year Ph.D. student. She grew up in Tehran, Iran, and received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and M.A. in Psychology from NYU. She is broadly interested in ideology, tolerance of inequality, and social change. How do ideological beliefs regulate emotional responses to inequality and disadvantaged? (with Eric Knowles and John Jost)
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 do social class differences influence individuals’ basic social-cognitive functioning and early information processing (attention, perception, theory of mind)? How does social class shape lay theories, values, and self-contstruals? How can we measure social class and study it empirically? Overall, we take a cultural-psychological perspective of social class that traces the origins of class differences to divergent resource ecologies.
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?
Elizabeth Mutter Social Liz received her BA in Psychology from Amherst College in 2015. She is a first-year doctoral student at NYU working primarily with Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen. How can we use self-regulatory strategies such as MCII to promote thriving?
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 third-year Ph.D. student in John Jost's lab and is interested in how fundamental, motivational needs affect ideological orientation. How do the fundamental motivations associated with one's attachment style underlie ideological orientation (John Jost, Social Justice Lab)? What are the motivational antecedents of collective action (SMAPP Lab)?
Ethan Ludwin-Peery Social Ethan received his B.A. in Cognitive Science from Hampshire College in 2013. Before coming to NYU he worked as a research assistant in Harvard’s Psychology Department with Professor Dan Gilbert, and at Harvard Business School with Professor Alison Brooks. He also worked as a data scientist in the research team of Broad Green Pictures. At NYU, he works primarily with Yaacov Trope. What is the nature of the processes that create, manipulate, and abstract high-level social representations?
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)
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. Jenny is broadly interested in studying the Psychology of Justice with a focus on morality and punishment. More specifically, Jenny tests the flexibility of moral judgment and the psychophysiology underlying moral decision-making. Jenny works primarily with Dr. Jay Van Bavel.

How does priming reasoning versus intuition influence moral judgments and the psychophysiology underlying moral decision-making (with Jay Van Bavel). How does How do descriptive and prescriptive gender stereotypes impact perceptions of guilt and assigned punishment? (with Madeline Heilman)

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 is a second-year Ph.D. student and a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow working with Dr. Jay Van Bavel. He received a dual B.S. in Psychology and Business from Skidmore College in 2012. Diego is broadly interested in how we connect with and imagine the experience of others. Currently, he is exploring the dynamics of group cohesion, specifically, how group identification shapes neural synchrony and collective performance. He is also investigating how empathy affects moral beliefs and instigates action. What makes us ‘click’ with others and how does that impact our collective abilities? How do our moral attitudes change?
Matthew T. Riccio Social Matt received his BA in Psychology from NYU in 2012. He then spent three years at Columbia University working with Professors Niall Bolger and Gertraud Stadler before returning to NYU to join the Social Psychology program in 2015. Matt is primarily interested in the social cognitive and perceptual processes that predict and promote effective health relevant self-regulation and goal pursuit. He is also interested in the ways that motivational states and social support processes can encourage individuals to act despite challenges to self-regulatory success. Matt works primarily with Professor Emily Balcetis, as well with Professors Pat Shrout and Yaacov Trope. How do individuals’ perceptual experiences influence both motivation and subsequent goal-relevant action? (with Emily Balcetis) What is the social regulatory role of interpersonal relationships and social support in health-related goal pursuit and/or behavior change? (with Pat Shrout)
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 Sterling received her BA at the University of Pittsburgh in both Psychology and International and Area Studies. Joanna is interested in how underlying cognitive and motivational differences between liberals and conservatives might manifest themselves in language. Her other research interests include system justification theory, stereotyping, and social perception. 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
Anni Sternisko Social Anni is a first year PhD student in the SPAM lab. She grew up in Germany and received her BA in Psychology with a minor in Economics from the Ludwigs-Maximilians-University (LMU). Before pursuing her PhD, Anni worked as a research assistant at Columbia University and NYU. Anni is interested in how individuals' representations of the world shape judgment and decision-making. Specifically, she asks how basic motivations, such as social goals or the drive to predict and control one's environment, influence how individuals literally see, judge, and act. Further, she asks how such motivated biases apply in real-life domains such as legal punishment. She currently works on the question how skin tone representation influences voting behavior.
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?
Susanna Stone Social Susanna received her BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California in 2013. After graduation she worked with Dr. Cheryl Wakslak in the Management and Organization department at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Susanna is a 2nd year doctoral student working with Dr. John Jost. She is interested in social systems, stereotypes, intersectionality, group-based identities (i.e., gender, race, social class, political ideology, etc.), and justifications of inequalities. Why (and how) do people justify and rationalize inequalities? What motivates support for the status quo? Why might people be motivated to endorse social systems that are personally disadvantageous?
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)
Timothy Jacob Valshtein Social Tim is a first year doctoral student working primarily with Peter Gollwitzer and Gabriele Oettingen in the the Motivation Lab. In 2014, he received a BA in Psychology with minors in Jewish Studies and Hebrew from Temple University. In 2016, he received an MA in Psychology from Wake Forest University, working with Cathy Seta and writing his thesis on regret as a self-regulatory system. Tim is also a freelance photographer and draws on his experiences behind the lens to inform his research. How do we utilize information about the past in conjunction with thoughts about the future in order to navigate an ever-changing, often uncertain world? What implications do these processes carry in the context of health?
Qi Xu Social Qi was born and raised in China. Qi received her B.S. in Applied psychology from Shanghai Normal University in 2012. Then she began her master at NYU in the fall of 2012, primarily working with Dr. Pat Shrout in Couples Lab in projects related to cultural differences and social support provision. After receiving her M.A. in "general psychology" in 2014, she joined NYU's doctoral program fall of that year and continues to work with Pat. To what extent do people view their romantic relationship as a unit? To what extent do people identify themselves with their romantic relationship? How does the relationship entitativity impact people's social cognition, perception and behavior at the individual level and relationship level?
Julian Wills Social Julian is a fourth-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 neurocognitive processes that guide cooperation and (2) moral cognition and the ways in which (3) identity, (4) ideology, and (5) group norms shape these processes. What are the core neurocognitive processes that guide cooperation and how are they shaped by group-level phenomena (e.g., identity, ideology, and norms)? In what ways do emotion and ideology shape and constrain the diffusion of moralized content?
Marika Sylvie
Social Marika received her BA in Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in the Spring of 2011. She entered the doctoral program in 2012, where she works with Pat Shrout and Yaacov Trope.  
How does the level of abstraction one uses to mentally represent close relationships affect relationship regulation processes and outcomes (e.g. conflict, support, satisfaction)? How can self-control in the context of close relationships be conceptualized as a dyadic, interpersonal process?
Daniel Yudkin Social Daniel is a sixth 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. 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?

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