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Betsy Sparrow
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University, 2007

General Area of Research

The function of conscious will and authorship processing, social interactions, priming

Current Research

My interest in automatic processes has guided my research in social cognition in two primary directions (a) the impact of others on feelings of authorship for our actions, and (b) the impact of priming on behavior as well as strategies for overcoming that impact. My research as a whole can be described as revolving around how we interpret social cues and context. I employ numerous methodologies in the laboratory, including self-report, behavioral coding, virtual reality, and psychophysiology. I have conducted numerous studies on feelings of agency in social interactions, including work which explores position and gaze effects on authorship in co-acting situations, and the role of intention detecting on calculating agency in dyadic movement. I have also developed an extensive research project which examines knowledge activation, and strategies to deactivate knowledge primes. In the past year, I have become interested in examining the physiological consequences of thought activation, specifically focusing on how the meaning of a prime may change according to the context in which it is activated. Finally, I have a fun new line of research, which looks at how having constant access to information online, through such search engines as google, may be impacting our memory and cognitive processing.

Relevant Publications

Wegner D., Sparrow, B., & Winerman, L. (2004). Vicarious agency: Experiencing Control over the movements of others. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86: 838-848.

Wegner, D.M., & Sparrow, B. (2004). Authorship processing. In M.S. Gazzaniga (ed.), The New Cognitive Neurosciences, Third Edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Sparrow, B., & Wegner, D.M. (2006). Unpriming: The deactivation of thoughts through expression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 91: 1009-1019.

Wegner, D.M., & Sparrow, B. (2007). The puzzle of co-action. In D. Spurrett, D. Ross, & H. Kincaid (Eds.), Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition in Social Context. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Courses Frequently Taught

PSYC W2640 Introduction to Social Cognition 

PSYC W3630 Seminar in Social Cognition

Betsy Sparrow Photo

Columbia University
Psychology Dept.
355C Schermerhorn Ext
1190 Amsterdam Avenue MC: 5501
New York, NY 10027

Phone: 212-854-1348
Fax: 212-854-3609

Last modified: Jan 25, 2012 4:44:22 PM EST