Social Psychology PhD Students

  Student   Affiliations Bio Research question (one per lab)
Janet Ahn Social Janet was born in Queens, New York and received her B.A. in Psychology (minored in Religion and Political Science) at Barnard College, Columbia University. Her interest in social psychology was piqued as she conducted research with former graduate student of Dr. Walter Mischel, Ethan Kross, on emotion regulation. With her mentors, Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, her research focuses on nonconscious goal pursuit, more specifically putting emphasis on a phenomenon called goal projection, which is the naïve assumption that another shares one's personal goal. In her leisure time, she enjoys biking with her husband and training for a triathlon next summer! How does projecting one's goals (i.e. assuming another shares your person goal) facilitate (or hamper) interpersonal relations?
William Brady Social Billy is a first-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 automatic and perceptual processes such as visual attention can affect emotion generation, perception and regulation (and vice versa).  He also thinks about what emotions really are on the side. How might visual attention biases in emotion perception predict relationship conflict? (with Emily Balcetis).  What is the precise role of attention in models of emotion regulation?
Crystal Clarke Social Crystal is a ​third year doctoral student in NYU’s Social Psychology program. She graduated from ​Amherst College​ in 2011 with a B​achelor's​ in Psychology​. ​Her research​ ​​interests​ ​include studying 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). 
Lindy Gullett Social Lindy graduated from Pomona College in 2009 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in mathematics. She is a second year graduate student at NYU working primarily with Tessa West, and in her free time, Lindy likes to play volleyball in Central Park. How can simple interpersonal manipulations (e.g. expectations of similarity, trust, and reciprocity) improve same-race and cross-race interactions? (with Tessa West) Under what conditions do we apply female stereotypes to males? (with Tessa West and Madeline Heilman) What underlies the positive effects of sharing a common identity? (with Jay Van Bavel and Tessa West)
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?
Stefan Huynh Social Stefan was born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT. He received his B.S. in Mathematics and Psychology from the University of Utah in 2012 and began at NYU the same year, working primarily with Emily Balcetis. He is interested in how information-processing mechanisms affect decision-making and self-regulation. Stefan spends the majority of his free time swing dancing. What are the information-processing precursors to impulsive behavior and how can these be adjusted to promote self-control? (with Emily Balcetis) How does motivation influence visual perception to promote goal pursuit? (with Emily Balcetis)? How do mindsets affect decision-making processes (with Yaacov Trope)?
David Kalkstein Social David received his BA in sociology and psychology from Cornell University in 2011. He is a first year graduate student at NYU working primarily with Yaacov Trope. Why do people behave in ways that are inconsistent
with their own overarching goals and interests? (with Yaacov Trope and John Jost) How do mindsets and target of focus impact perception? (with Yaacov Trope and Emily Balcetis)
Amy Krosch Social Amy uses behavioral and physiological measures to examine how situational and motivational factors exacerbate racial inequality and how they shift the perceptual criterion used to determine group membership. Her long-term goal is to inform interventions aimed at reducing racial disparities in socio-economic outcomes. Before beginning graduate school, she received her BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Later she researched behavioral decision making at Columbia University with Professors Elke U. Weber and Eric J. Johnson and Dr. Bernd Figner, specifically investigating the neural underpinnings of intertemporal choice.

How does threat influence intergroup decision making and perception of group boundaries (with David Amodio and Tom Tyler)? How does ideological motivation influence race categorization (with Jay Van Bavel, John Jost and David Amodio)? Do stereotypes influence the low-level visual processing of the object of those stereotypes (with David Amodio)?

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 first-year Ph.D. student in John Jost's lab and is interested in values, beliefs, and preferences, and how ideology motivates positions on particular issues and behavior. What are the foundations of people’s attachment and resistance to certain attitudes and behaviors, and the mechanisms by which these may be altered? (with John Jost) What differences in message scrutiny are associated with liberal-conservative ideological orientation? (with John Jost and Eric Knowles)
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)
John Sciaroppo 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. 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 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. He once had a head-nod reciprocated by Louis CK. 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 the topic of an intergroup discussion between power discrepant groups influence (a) the allocation of resources and (b) expectations of how those resources will be allocated (with Tessa West)?
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 person perception, and how they are instantiated neurally. To investigate this, his research primarily examines top-down influences on face perception, such as how motivations and prior knowledge impact social category representation. His work applies both implicit behavioral and neural decoding 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)
Alexandra Wesnousky Social Alex received her B.A. in Psychology and Classical studies from Colby College in 2010. She began her PhD at NYU in the fall of 2010, where she works primarily with Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer. How do our self-concepts influence self-regulatory thought and behavior? Can a maladaptive or undesirable self-concept result in positive behavioral and affective outcomes (with Gollwitzer and Oettinge)?
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 second-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. He is broadly interested in the relationship between political ideology, pro-social behavior, and moral cognition. Julian aims to use cutting-edge neuroscientific and "Big Data" approaches to bring clarity to these topics. Can neural activity be used to predict pro-social decision making? In what way does political ideology impact these pro-social decisions?
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 first-year in the Social Psychology program; his primary advisor is Yaacov Trope but he also works with John Jost and Jay Van Bavel. He graduated from Williams College in 2008 and spent the next two years playing semi-professional jazz piano in Paris. He then spent half a year working as an Academic Coordinator at a middle school on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. At Williams, his work in psychology centered on the effects of poverty on present orientation and time discounting. He lives in Brooklyn and enjoys soccer, chess, and music. How do people compare themselves to dissimilar others?  How does group membership affect people's moral judgments? How can empirical research in psychology teach us about What It's Like to be a person?

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