Post Doctoral


James Cornwell, Ph.D.

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.


Svetlana Komissarouk, Ph.D.


How do our culture and our motivation affect the ways in which we seek and provide help? My research combines three domains of social psychology: cross-cultural, motivational and pro-social behavior. In the Higgins lab I am focusing on "culturally ambidextrous" individuals who grew up in a society different from the one they currently live in, and who identify with both their home and host cultures. I am interested in exploring how culturally ambidextrous individuals differ from other when adjusting to changes in the world around them and which motivational mechanisms drive them.


Eyal Rechter, Ph.D.


Organizations invest many resources in evaluating and improving performance. Surprisingly, empirical evidence shows that such processes have disappointing results. In my research, I apply personality, motivation and emotion theories to the context of organizational interventions, such as performance evaluations and employee development, to better understand the dynamics of such interventions and their effectiveness. I focus on personal and situational characteristics that influence managers' feedback and evaluation of employees, and employees' reactions to feedback. I'm also interested in applications of positive psychology and positive organizational behavior to create more fulfilling and meaningful professional environment in organizations.

Graduate Students



Christine Webb, 6th 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.


Billur Avlar, 5th Year PhD

Billur Avlar

How can we better understand the interaction between the motivational states and cognition? My research is aimed to understand this interaction by collecting evidence from animal models of mental disorders and also from studying the motivational states in disorders of motivation and cognition in Parkinson's disease patients. In the Higgins lab, I am focused on applying the regulatory mode theory on different type of cognitive functions and assess how those are affected in the disease state.


Maya Rossignac-Milon, 2nd Year PhD

Maya Rossignac-Milon

I study the relationship between shared reality, cognitive accessibility, and interpersonal closeness. My current research investigates the motivational processes involved in the development of shared reality, specifically in close relationships. I hope to use ROAR to inform our understanding of the way that cognitive accessibility is shaped by the social construction of “truth”.


Mark Conley, 2nd Year PhD

Mark Conley

My research uses regulatory mode theory to find out which chronic motivational states produce optimal individual and team performances. Future research will examine regulatory mode’s effects on aggression. In addition to mode, regulatory focus theory plays an important role in all of my research.





Katherine Zee, 1st Year PhD

Katherine Zee

I am interested in the ways that self-regulation influences our relationships with the people closest to us. My research primarily explores how individual differences in motivation affect the social support process and, consequently, shape outcomes on both the individual and the dyadic level.


Undergraduate Thesis Students


Sahng-Ah Yoo, Senior

Sahng-Ah Yoo

I am interested in studying the cognitive effects relationships can have on memory formation and recall, especially regarding motivational processes involved in the development of shared reality in close relationships. Currently, I am investigating to see whether shared reality can be developed through one's existing relationship rather than through the explicit new formation of one. More broadly, however, I am interested in investigating the intersection of psychology and law and how our (sub)conscious affects the way we interact with others inside and out of the criminal justice system.


Lauren Tomasulo, Senior

Lauren T

I am interested in how people's persistent motivational states influence their interactions with other people. I am particularly concerned with understanding what motivations lead to inaction and action in particular circumstances. My current research explores people's varying self-regulatory motivations and their influence on successful conflict resolution.


Farah Tamizuddin, Senior

Farah T

I'm interested in motivation and couples research. Primarily, I want to study why couples are attracted to each other and what pushes them to make long term commitments. Couples who are happier often have complementary regulatory focuses, and I want to investigate how individual values and characteristics can affect a two-person relationship.


Youval Aberman, Senior


I am interested in unconscious goal-pursuit and its relations to regulatory fit theory, believing we can predict and manipulate behavioral changes if we take individual differences into account. As a former music performer and teacher, I also find particular interest in applying self-regulatory tools in occupational settings, in order to explore performance and musicianship – what constitutes a great performance and a successful lesson.


Youjung Jun, Senior


I am interested in the mechanisms of creating and managing our shared reality as a useful tool to understand those around us as well as ourselves. My project explores how meaningful relationships affect these mechanisms. I hope to continue studying the broad implications of shared reality on our behaviors beyond the realm of interpersonal relationships.


Serena De Stefani, Senior


My main interest is exploring how cooperation and prosocial behavior can influence the achievement of shared reality. I am also interested in exploring how, when making an ethical choice, a cognitive process of regulatory fit can surpass the consideration of material outcomes. More broadly I am interested in how our cognitive construals can influence the way we make choices and communicate with each other.


Kalman Shaya Victor , Junior


I'm interested in studying the psycholinguistic underpinnings of self-regulation and shared reality, how our perceptions of ourselves and others hinge on the ability to put subjective states into words. Specifically, I want to examine how the act of communication--and the specific language used to capture aspects of the self--comes to shape how we establish personal goals and truths in our own internal worlds and within the realties we share with others.


E. Tory Higgins

Lab Members