Post Doctoral


Becca Franks, Ph.D.

becca Picture

I am interested in how basic motivations determine resource use, environmental need, and overall health in humans and other animals. With my post-doctoral research in the Champagne LabI hope to combine current social psychology theories, specifically engagement (Higgins 2006) and effectiveness (Higgins 2011), with animal behavior in order to build on our understanding of what it means to have good welfare or well-being.

  • Collaborations: Champange Lab
  • ------------------------------------

    Shu Zhang, Ph.D.

    Shu Picture

    I adopt motivational and social cognitive approaches to study the impacts of a precedent on individual decision-making, interpersonal behaviors, and cross-cultural interactions. My research in the Higgins lab focuses on the motivation behind repeating a precedent that could be unpleasant, ineffective, or unethical, and I currently study its implications for cultural essentialism, a source of preference for the precedent culture and resistance to new cultures.

  • Personal website: Click here.
  • CBS profile: Click here.
  • Graduate Students



    James Cornwell, 5th Year PhD

    James Picture

    My primary research interest is investigating the motivational processes that underlie our moral judgments and ethical decision-making, in an attempt to clarify how we make those decisions and what goals are being met when we make them. I'm particularly interested in how motivation science can help us get at the concept of virtue, and how it behaves interactively and independently with respect to moral value understood as either ideals or obligations. I am also interested in how these concepts of virtue or "the good life" relate to happiness and well-being.


    Christine Webb, 5th Year PhD

    Christine Webb

    How do humans and other animals resolve conflict? My research questions take an evolutionary approach to the study of conflict management and resolution. In the Higgins lab, I am interested in exploring the role of motivational processes in reconciliation behavior. I am particularly interested in how the different ways in which people seek to resolve conflicts and the quality of their social relationships influence the reconciliation process. I look forward to seeing how studies of conflict resolution in non-human primates can inform similar research on human social behavior and cognition, and how an understanding of motivational underpinnings can improve our study of both.


    Allison Turza Bajger, 4th Year PhD

    Allison Turza Bajger

    My broad scientific objectives lie in understanding motivation across several domains. I am particularly curious in examining the self-regulatory factors that influence the effectiveness of digital communication. I am also engaged in projects involving choice architecture and online choice. Generally, my current research addresses questions relating to persuasive communication.


    Maya Rossignac-Milon, 1st Year PhD

    Maya Rossignac-Milon

    I am primarily interested the motivational processes involved in the development of shared reality, specifically in close relationships. I hope to investigate how we develop shared reality through our interactions with others, with an emphasis on the implicit cognitive mechanisms underlying these processes. I also want to explore how regulatory mode moderates our perceptions of interpersonal closeness. More broadly, I am interested in investigating the role of shared reality in the social construction of culture and “truth”.


    Mark Conley, 1st Year PhD

    Mark Conley

    I am interested in maladaptive behavior, performance under enduring stressful conditions, and the risk factors that lead to chronic mental health problems. Further along that thread I am interested in the motivational and regulatory fit tools that are effective in preventing performance burnout, substance abuse, and abusive relationships. Lastly, when appropriate, I want to consider research topics through the lens of evolutionary psychology.


    Honors Students


    Dana Neugut, Senior

    Dana Picture

    I am interested in how we affect the opinions and actions of those around us in a variety of situations. This effect may be diminished or amplified depending on how we are viewed – close friend, capable employer, untrustworthy stranger, etc. My current project explores the extent of the influence one person can have on another.


    E. Tory Higgins

    Lab Members