Lab Fall 2007

Welcome to our lab!

We embrace a motivated cognition framework in pursuing both basic and applied questions relating to self-regulation. We study the motivational underpinnings of perceptions, judgments, decisions, and behaviors, in a wide range of contexts, from romantic relationships to military training.


See below for descriptions of the different types of research we conduct and of some of our main ongoing projects.


Interpersonal Processes

What makes people ‘click’? What are the motivational processes underlying the development and maintenance of romantic relationships? How do we provide effective social support to one another? How do our motivational orientations influence our perceptions of the social support we receive? In our lab, we take a motivational approach to understanding interpersonal processes. We study how fundamental needs influence dyadic interactions across a range of contexts, and using several theoretical frameworks:

In the context of romantic relationship initiation, Katherine is studying whether people are more attracted to potential romantic partners whom they perceive will address their motivational needs. Maya is examining the role of shared reality (feeling that one experiences the world in the same way as another) in making strangers feel like they immediately connect with each other.

In the context of existing close relationships, Maya is studying how the meaningful conversations we have with close others can lead us to develop a shared reality over time. Further, she is exploring how this shared reality changes the way we experience the world (specifically, how it intensifies our sensory perceptions), and the way that we feel about our close relationship partners (how close and committed we feel to them). She is also examining the role of shared reality in conflict-resolution. Katherine is studying how individual differences in motivation (e.g., regulatory mode, or how much people emphasize getting things done vs. doing things right) shape the ways in which people provide social support to their partners. Further, she is examining how these differences influence people’s preferences for receiving support.

In the context of general dyadic interactions, Svetlana is examining how motivational orientations change the way people seek and give help to others.


Motivational Effectiveness & Performance

What makes us effective at what we do? What makes us likely to succeed, or likely to fail? Our research investigates the motivational underpinnings of performance in different contexts. How do the ways in which individuals engage in goal pursuit affect effectiveness? What role do chronic and state-induced regulatory focus and regulatory mode play in strategic and tactical choices? We examine how a promotion-oriented individual generally preferring to use eager strategies might differ in tactical choices from a prevention-oriented person who prefers vigilant strategies, and how a locomotion-oriented person with a high concern for control (“just do it”) might prefer different strategies from an assessment-oriented person with a high concern for truth (“do it right”). In other words, we study goal selection and goal pursuit. We also examine how balancing needs for truth, value, and control allow people to optimize decision-making and behavior.

Mark is studying which fundamental motivational traits elicit the best individual performances. He is also examining how those traits interact in pairs and teams to impact group performances. He has examined this in the military with Navy SEALs, and is also exploring whether the same interactions generalize to other contexts.

Katherine is studying the motivational ingredients of beneficial social support, specifically how receiving such support enables people to feel more effective by fulfilling their needs for value (getting the outcomes they desire), truth (establishing what is real, or enhancing their understanding), and control (managing what happens and boosting self-efficacy).

Billur is studying how motivational orientations influence cognitive function and mental disorders. For example, she is examining the role of regulatory focus and regulatory mode in moderating how Parkinson’s disease influences how effective people are at noticing perceptual changes and making judgments of their environment.

Svetlana is studying how people from different cultures approach problem-solving, and how diverse are they in their creativity. She is also examining how self-regulation influences decision-making in life-changing situations.

Mirei is studying the relationship between aging and regulatory focus across different cultural contexts. Using a lifespan psychological approach, she specifically asks how aging differs between Western cultures and East Asian cultures, which typically have different self-regulatory orientations.

Maya is examining how regulatory mode moderates how effective we are at connecting with other people and making sense of the world around us. Specifically, she is investigating how regulatory mode influences the way that people create shared realities with one another.



Self-Regulation & Emotion

What are the emotional consequences of effectively managing or disastrously mismanaging ourselves in the pursuit of our goals? How does succeeding or failing at meeting our motivational needs influence our emotions?

Generally, our lab is exploring how succeeding and failing at either ‘getting things done’ (locomotion) or ‘doing things right’ (assessment) influence our emotional lives. For example, how do we feel when we face obstacles preventing us from locomoting or assessing? We examine whether regulatory mode might be able to explain why sometimes we feel frustrated, happy, bored, or calm.

Mark is exploring whether motivational orientations can predict aggressive acts. Specifically, he is investigating the conditions under which locomotion may encourage aggression while assessment might inhibit it.



Congratulations to our new doctors, James & Christine!

Research Questions

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