Social Psychology Research Labs

CARMA Lab - Adam Cohen

The CARMA Lab seeks to understand religion and culture. Below are the types of questions the Carma Lab is interested in studying:

  • Do concepts of God as a caring person or as a punishing person influence the way we treat others?
  • Why do some people believe in God while others do not?
  • What does it mean to be spiritual but not religious?
  • How are our religious beliefs shaped by our culture and individual personalities?
  • What counts as a culture in psychology, and what doesn’t? Is religion a culture?
  • What constitutes personhood? Do people from different cultures and religions see personhood differently?
  • Why do religious Blacks and Latinos vote Democrat, but religious Whites and Asians vote Republican?
  • How do religious individuals gain the trust of others in their group – and outside of their group?

Cooperation and Conflict Lab - Athena Aktipis

How do we navigate the fundamental tensions between cooperation and conflict that are inherent to social living? The Cooperation and Conflict Lab investigates these process across a variety of systems, from humans food sharing to cooperation in multicellularity and cancer. We use diverse methods including computation modeling, human subjects experiments and fieldwork to explore the decision rules and fundamental principles that shape cooperation across systems.

Sociality is a tricky business. On one hand it offers important opportunities for mutual benefit, and on the other hand it can present threats from cheaters and competitors. This fundamental tension between the benefits and costs of social living is the focus of the Cooperation and Conflict Lab. From models of the evolution of cooperation to analyses of reproductive competition, we explore how the tension between cooperation and competition has shaped sociality across many different systems.

Culture and Decision Science Network Lab - Virginia Kwan

The mission of the Culture and Decision Science Network is to understand how people think, feel, and behave like they do and the underlying influences of dynamic interactions between culture and individual psychology.

Culture and Ecology Lab - Michael Varnum

The cultures we live in shape our minds and our behavior. The Culture and Ecology Lab focuses on how patterns of cultural variation and cultural change may be understood as responses to changes in basic ecological conditions (i.e. population density, pathogen prevalence, resource scarcity). In this line of research, we use frameworks and tools from behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, econometrics, big data, and cultural psychology. Using these tools, we believe we may not only be able to explain current patterns of cultural variation and past patterns of cultural change but to forecast future cultural trends. We also use EEG and ERP to study how cultural factors affect neural responses involved in a host of social cognitive processes.

Evolutionary Social Cognition Lab - Doug Kenrick and Steve Neuberg

We are currently exploring the following questions and others like them:

  • What types of people draw our attention? What makes certain people more memorable? What physical characteristics are most influential in processing a social experience
  • How do important social goals (e.g., to protect oneself, to find romance) influence the ways in which we perceive and come to understand the individuals around us?
  • What happens to social perception when people are motivated to seek revenge, or to try to help others?
  • Does fertility affect social cognition?
  • How do individual differences interact with people's social surroundings? Does a personal belief translate to projecting functional relevant emotions to other people? For example, does belief in a dangerous world promote seeing anger in other people when it isn't really there?
  • Do some social stimuli always trump others? For example, do people always notice someone who may be dangerous? If not, when do typically important stimuli get missed?
  • Are people with clinical disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety disorder, compelled to look at, process, and remember social stimuli differently than other people? For example, perhaps sufferers of OCD are more acutely aware of another's dirty fingernails.

Evolution, Ecology, and Social Behavior Lab (Dr. Neuberg) - Steve Neuberg

We are currently exploring the following issues, and others like them:

  • Why do stereotypes and prejudices exist? What forms do they take?  Why, in particular, do people possess such strong stereotypes and prejudices based on age, sex, and race? Such stereotypes and prejudices can have profound implications for how individuals are viewed and the opportunities they have.  It’s often presumed that stereotypes and prejudices people are simple, but they are not. Rather, our research has demonstrated that the stereotypes people use to understand others are often quite complex—more complex than can be accounted for by currently dominant theoretical approaches to stereotyping and prejudice.  Understanding this nuance thus has important implications both for creating stronger models of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination processes and for reducing instances of inappropriate stereotyping and discrimination.
  • The environments in which people live can vary greatly—in terms of their predictability, resource availability, presence of dangerous pathogens, numbers of women versus men, etc.  How do such factors shape social behaviors, attitudes, norms, and legal systems? 
  • What leads relatively weak groups to aggress against more powerful groups?  What features of religion might lead weak groups to take on more powerful groups?  More generally, in what ways might religion increase or decrease intergroup conflict?  
  • Female relationships are different than male relationships in some interesting ways.  In what ways are female relationships especially complex, and how do girls and women manage their relationships with one another?
  • How do social goals (e.g., to protect oneself, to find romance, to care for offspring) shape how we perceive and come to understand the individuals around us?

Our approach is an integrative one, pulling together theory and findings from social psychologyecological psychology, and evolutionary biology to explore fundamental questions of social cognition and behavior.

Social Addictions Impulse Lab - Julie A. Patock-Peckham

Research at SAIL focuses on both internalizing and externalizing pathways to alcohol use and related problems. We currently have an NIH/NIAAA grant 1K01AA024160-01A1 in order to study impaired control over drinking which is drinking beyond the self-proscribed limit for alcohol consumption.  Laboratory-based studies are conducted in a simulated nautically themed bar setting on the Arizona State University Campus. We are exploring both cold executive function (i.e. memory capacity and problem-solving skills) as well as emotional pathways leading to drinking to excess despite intentions or incentives to limit consumption. We are exploring both trait (personality) and state (in the moment) aspects of impulsivity and other behavioral control variables and how this predicts drinking behavior in a naturalistic bar setting. 

SPLAT Lab - Michelle "Lani" Shiota 

The Shiota Psychophysiology Laboratory for Affective Testing (SPLAT lab) conducts basic and translational research on the nature and implications of human emotion, using a multi-method approach that integrates physiological, behavioral, cognitive, narrative, and questionnaire measures of emotional responding.