Culture and Decision Science (Kwan Lab)

Social and personality psychology ranging from temporal decision-making, predictors of academic success, women and STEM careers, to self-perception in social media.

RAs in this lab will work primarily on the following three projects: (1) Psychological barriers to evolutionary thinking in cancer research, treatment, and basic understanding. (2) The influence of present and future Time Orientation on comparison processes (specifically, the evaluation of progress), considering ethnic differences, situational moderators, and priming effects. (2) Extracultural cognition — that is, temporarily infusing one’s judgments with the tenets of a second salient culture that was not one in which the individual was primarily socialized.

(1) The Big C (Cancer, for those of us who do not watch Showtime). This project aims to identify psychological barriers to evolutionary thinking in cancer and to develop interventions to facilitate evolutionarily-informed clinical decision-making and research methods, focusing on concepts such as essentialism and the role of cultural metaphors for cancer.

(2) Time Orientation. You ask me how far I have come. I have come a long way. I still have a long way to go. Though I do not know how far I have come, I have had a great time getting here. These responses reflect different ways of approaching the same question depending on one’s orientation to time. Though time exists on an infinite continuum, laypersons and scholars alike utilize the the temporal dimensions of Past, Present, and Future. For the purposes of this investigation, we treat Time Orientation as a tendency to attend to, remember, and weight information from a particular temporal dimension.

This project focuses on the influence of Present Orientation and Future Orientation on comparison processes, the evaluation of progress, and impact of process versus product. Also, we consider the intertwined roles of ecology and culture to predict and explain group differences among East Asians, Latinos/as, and white Americans of European descent in various domains, such as achievement and social judgment/cognition.

(3) Extracultural Cognition. Dr. Kwan’s earlier findings show instances in which people from one culture temporarily infuse their judgments with the tenets of a second salient culture, as long as they recognize the meaning embodied in that culture. This project continues that line of research, and we have many ideas about where to go from here. We may examine how strongly foreign cultural stimuli influence cognition among different groups (e.g., businesspeople vs. ex-patriots vs. tourists), the influence of positivity/negativity toward the certain foreign culture, differences in the effects of idea-laden/idea-absent foreign cultural cues, and pancultural symbols.

Opportunity Info
Course Info
Course Credit: 
Both PSY 399 and PSY 499. 499 requires Dr. Kwan’s approval and is reserved for advanced/experienced students.

We strongly prefer RAs to commit for an entire Fall/Spring academic year.

Lab Director(s): 
Virginia S. Y. Kwan, PhD