Assistant Professor
Social Psychology
New York University
6 Washington Place, Room 452 
New York, NY 10003
Twitter: @vanbavellab

Social Perception and Evaluation Lab

Join the Lab

I am looking for highly motivated students and scholars to join my lab. Please visit my lab website to learn more about joining the lab.


I am interested in how values, identities and motivations organize social perception and evaluation, and the underlying neural mechanisms that mediate these processes. This work builds on some basic assumptions about the dynamic nature of human perception and evaluation that are different from the dual process models that permeate psychology. My primary line of research takes a multi-level approach to self-categorization and social identity, blending theory and methods from social psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Other lines of research explore the flexibility of moral judgment and the effects of social context and individual differences on social perception and evaluation.


Assistant Professor, New York University Department of Psychology (2010-present)
SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow, The Ohio State University Department of Psychology (2008-2009)
Visiting Scholar, The Ohio State University Department of Psychology (2006-2008)


PhD in Psychology University of Toronto (2008)
Summer Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (2007)
MA in Psychology, University of Toronto (2004)
BA in Psychology, University of Alberta (2002)


S4SN Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Social Neuroscience (2012)
SPSSI Dissertation Award (2009)
SESP Dissertation Award finalist (2009)
SPSP Student Publication Award finalist (2009)
APS Student Research Award (2006)
SSHRC Canada Graduate Fellowship (2005-2008)

Selected Publications

(see my lab website for a complete list of publications)

Cunningham, W. A., Van Bavel, J. J., Arbuckle, N. L., Packer, D. J., & Waggoner, A. S. (2012). Rapid social perception is flexible: Approach and avoidance motivational states shape P100 responses to other-race faces. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6, 140. DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00140

Van Bavel, J. J., Swencionis, J. K., O'Connor, R. C., & Cunningham, W. A. (2012). Motivated social memory: Belonging needs moderate the own-group bias in face recognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 707-713. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.01.006

Van Bavel, J. J., Xiao, Y. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2012). Evaluation is a dynamic process: Moving beyond dual system models. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 438-454. DOI: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00438.x 140.

Xiao, Y. J., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2012). See your friends close, and your enemies closer: Social identity and identity threat shape the representation of physical distance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 959-972. DOI: 10.1177/014616721244222

Van Bavel, J. J. & Cunningham, W. A. (2011). A social neuroscience approach to self and social categorisation: A new look at an old issue. European Review of Social Psychology, 21, 237-284. DOI: 10.1080/10463283.2010.543314

Van Bavel, J. J., Packer, D. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2011). Modulation of the Fusiform Face Area following minimal exposure to motivationally relevant faces: Evidence of in-group enhancement (not out-group disregard). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23, 3343-3354. DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00016

Van Bavel, J. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2009). Self-categorization with a novel mixed-race group moderates automatic social and racial biases. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 321-335. DOI: 10.1177/0146167208327743

Cunningham, W. A., Van Bavel, J. J., & Johnsen, I. R. (2008). Affective flexibility: Evaluative processing goals shape amygdala activity. Psychological Science, 19, 152-160. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02061.x

Van Bavel, J. J., Packer, D. J., & Cunningham, W. A. (2008). The neural substrates of in-group bias: A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation. Psychological Science, 19, 1131-1139. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02214.x

Cunningham, W. A., Zelazo, P. D., Packer, D. J., & Van Bavel, J. J. (2007). The Iterative Reprocessing Model: A multi-level framework for attitudes and evaluation. Social Cognition, 25, 736-760. DOI: 10.1521/soco.2007.25.5.736