Culture and Decision Science (Kwan Lab)

The Culture and Decision Science Network Lab studies a variety of topics in social and personality psychology ranging from temporal decision-making, predictors of academic success, sex differences and STEM careers, to self-perception in social media.

RAs in this lab will work primarily on the following three projects: (1) 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) Cyberpsychology: the interaction of online culture and social media with human thought and behavior, and (3) 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) Time Orientation. Though time exists on an infinite continuum, laypersons and scholars alike utilize the temporal dimensions of Past, Present, and Future. This project considers how people’s tendency to attend to, remember, and weight information is different depending on the considered temporal dimension. We also consider how different ecologies and cultures may predict and explain group differences in temporal thinking among East Asians, Latinos/as, and White Americans of European descent in various domains, such as achievement and social judgment/cognition. Additionally, we are interested in potential sex differences in future orientation. Currently, we are investigating how sex differences in future orientation may influence education and career decisions such as the decision to pursue STEM careers.

(2) Cyberpsychology. Online communication and social media unite users across the globe to engage in cyberspace culture — a place vastly different than the offline world with digitally created selves, massive networks, and incredible amounts of information available at the tip of a user’s fingers. Our engagement with cyberspace and the relevant modern technology affects the ways we think and behave within the online world, as well as in ordinary life. In one line of cyberspace research, we currently investigate how individuals express their personality on social media in contrast to their offline personalities. In a second line, we are investigating the cognitive and behavioral processes involved in the recent phenomenon of fake news in cyberspace. Our third line of research in this topic involves the effects of cyberspace media on stereotypes, specifically on how people think of hackers and hacking behavior.

 (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