SPLAT Lab (Shiota)

SPLAT Lab (Shiota)
Keywords: emotion; close relationships; psychophysiology; nonverbal expression; social cognition; positive psychology
Lab Area
Social Psychology
Lab Director
Michelle "Lani" Shiota, PhD
Actively Recruiting Undergraduate Researchers

The SPLAT Lab does research on emotions, with emphasis on positive emotions, emotional processes in close relationships, effects of emotion on cognition, and implications of emotion for health and well-being. SPLAT Lab RAs gain exposure to peripheral psychophysiology measures (e.g., heart rate) and behavioral coding as well as computer-based studies and questionnaire measures. Mandatory weekly lab meetings (Weds 4:30-5:30pm) include discussions of background theory, methodological decisions, and interpretation of study results. 

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. Core themes of this research are:

Positive Emotions. Emotion researchers have long distinguished among several functionally distinct negative emotions, such as sadness, fear, and anger, but empirical research on potentially "discrete" positive emotions is more recent. Our lab takes an evolutionary approach to defining multiple positive emotion constructs, and studies the extent of overlap and differentiation among these states. We use the proposed adaptive functions of each emotion as a basis for predicting various aspects of emotional responding, including aspects of subjective experience, profiles of autonomic nervous system reactivity, facial expressions, and implications for social cognition and behavior. In recent years, we have focused in particular on awe, amusement/humor, and distinct varieties of love. 

Emotional Processes in Close Relationships. Although emotions feel like intensely personal experiences, they are also profoundly important for our interactions with other people. We form impressions of new people, build and maintain close relationships, and coordinate dyadic and group action all with the help of emotions. Our research investigates some of the mechanisms by which emotions support relationships, and how the quality of close relationships impacts emotional experience. In particular, we are interested in the ways in which close relationship partners anticipate and savor positive experiences together, work cooperatively to solve problems, and regulate each others’ emotions during stressful times.

Emotional Mechanisms of Behavior Change. Several of the great societal problems of our time involve behavior. Behaviors such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor diet, and lack of exercise are major causes of preventable disease. Unsustainable consumption of energy and resources is creating a global environmental crisis. New media and internet-based technologies are drastically re-shaping human social interaction, economic decision-making, and participation in public life, with unpredictable and sometimes problematic consequences. Emotion is woven into the fabric of human behavior across these domains. Eating a candy bar, buying a lottery ticket or a more expensive car than you can afford, and checking social media incessantly for “likes” of your last post are all mediated by neural mechanisms supporting our emotional responses to rewards. Emotional stress and exhaustion increase the difficulty of regulating our behavior, whether it’s resisting the temptation to smoke, taking the time to fact-check a political ad, or remembering to bring reusable bags to the store. In a new area of focus, we’re investigating ways in which basic knowledge about emotions and emotion regulation can be applied to guide new techniques for promoting healthy and sustainable behavior.   

The application period for Fall 2021 admission to the ASU Doctoral Program in Social Psychology is now closed; applications are currently being reviewed. Dr. Shiota will consider applications from potential graduate students to join the lab in Fall 2022.

Lab Director and Principal Investigator: Michelle "Lani" Shiota, PhD, Associate Professor

Lani Shiota

Dr. Michelle "Lani" Shiota is an Associate Professor of Social Psychology at ASU. She received her B.A. in Communication from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from UC Berkeley. Her research is published in high-impact journals such as American Psychologist; JPSP; Emotion; Psychology and Aging; Evolution and Human Behavior; Psychophysiology; Cognition and Emotion; and the Journal of Consumer Research, and has been funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. In partnership with Michele Tugade and Leslie Kirby, Lani is an editor of the Handbook of Positive Emotion (Guilford Press), and she is co-author with Jim Kalat of the textbook Emotion (3rd Edition, Oxford University Press). She is a fellow of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, and the Association for Psychological Science. In addition to her calling in Psychology research Lani teaches at a local dance studio, and is a lead vocalist with the San Francisco-based Blues Disaster. She joined the ASU faculty in 2006. Contact: lani.shiota@asu.edu

 Curriculum Vitae

Graduate Students

Erika Pages

Erika Pages, Doctoral Student, Social Psychology

Erika Pages is a 5th-year student in the Social Psychology Ph.D. program at ASU. She is the current Lab Manager for SPLAT. Her research investigates the role of humor in romantic relationships and cognition. Current projects examine the implications of using humor-based reappraisal to regulate emotions about a distressing situation, as well as the inferences people draw about social interaction partners who make us laugh. Erika is also interested in the behaviors that facilitate the coregulation of emotion in romantic couples. Contact: epages@asu.edu.

Adi Wiezel, Doctoral Student, Social Psychology

Adi Wiezel is a 6th-year PhD student in the Social Psychology Ph.D. program at ASU. Her research emphasizes the structure of political attitudes and affect as well as the emotional, motivational, and social mechanisms of attitude change. Her work also emphasizes leadership preferences, and she has also done some research on the influence of emotion on motivation and engagement in educational settings. Contact: adi.wiezel@asu.edu.

Carley Vornlocher, Doctoral Student, Social Psychology

Carley Vornlocher is a 2nd year graduate student in the Social Psychology Ph.D. program at ASU. Her research explores how emotions and emotion regulation processes contribute to psychological and physical well-being. Carley is interested in how certain emotions and emotion regulation strategies may be leveraged to help initiate and sustain engagement in positive health behaviors. Additionally, Carley is interested in exploring the complexities of how close relationship partners can facilitate or hinder engagement in health behaviors and the pursuit of health-related goals.

SPLAT Lab Graduate Student Alumni 

  • Makenzie O'Neil (2019) Assistant Professor at Saint Mary's College of California
  • Ryan Hampton (2019) T32 Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Claire Yee (2018), Postdoctoral Fellow, ADAPT and Life-Span Development Labs, Northwestern University
  • Alexander Danvers (2017), Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona
  • Elizabeth Osborne (2014), User Researcher, Microsoft
  • Samantha Neufeld (2012), Senior Design Researcher, Microsoft
  • Stephanie Moser (2011), Program Manager, Division of Pain Research, University of Michigan Medical School
  • Elaine Perea (2010), Director of Career Technical Education, State of New Mexico


Graduate Applicants. Potential graduate students interested primarily in the SPLAT Lab should apply to the ASU Social Psychology program; students wishing to matriculate into the Clinical Psychology program are welcome in the lab, but should also seek a primary advisor within the Clinical area faculty.

Select Publications (graduate student/postdoc co-authors)

Below are a sample of recent publications from Dr. Shiota's research and lab. A more complete listing may be found in Dr. Shiota's curriculum vitae.

*Danvers, A. F., & Shiota, M. N.(2018). Dynamically engaged smiling predicts cooperation above and beyond average smiling levels. Evolution and Human Behavior, 39(1), 112-119.

Shiota, M. N., Campos, B., Oveis, C., Hertenstein, M., Simon-Thomas, E., & Keltner, D. (2017). Beyond happiness: Toward a science of discrete positive emotions. American Psychologist, 72(7), 617-643. 

*Danvers, A. F., & Shiota, M. N.(2017). Going off script: Effects of awe on memory for script-typical and –irrelevant narrative detail. Emotion, 17(6), 938-952.

*Yee, C. I., & Shiota, M. N.(2015). An insecure base: Attachment style and orienting response to positive stimuli.  Psychophysiology, 52(7), 905-909.

Shiota, M. N., *Neufeld, S. L., *Danvers, A. F., *Osborne, E. A., *Sng, O., & *Yee, C. I. (2014). Positive emotion differentiation: A functional approach. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 8(3), 104-117.

Campos, B., Shiota, M. N., Keltner, D., Gonzaga, G. C., Goetz, J., & Shin, M. (2013). What is shared, what is different?: Core relational themes and expressive displays of eight positive emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 27(1), 37-52.

Shiota, M. N., & Levenson, R. W. (2012). Turn down the volume, or change the channel?: Emotional effects of detached versus positive reappraisal. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(3), 416-429.

Shiota, M. N., *Neufeld, S. L., *Yeung, W. H., *Moser, S. E., & *Perea, E. F. (2011). Feeling good: Autonomic nervous system responding in five positive emotions. Emotion, 11(6), 1368-1378.

*Griskevicius, V., Shiota, M. N., & Neufeld, S. L. (2010). Influence of Different Positive Emotions on Persuasion Processing: A Functional Evolutionary Approach. Emotion, 10(2), 190-206.

Shiota, M. N., Campos, B., Gonzaga, G. C., Keltner, D., & Peng, K. (2010).  I Love You But…: Cultural Differences in Emotional Complexity During Interaction With a Romantic Partner. Cognition and Emotion, 24(5), 786-799.

Shiota, M. N., & Levenson, R. W. (2009). Effects of Aging on Experimentally Instructed Detached Reappraisal, Positive Reappraisal, and Emotional Behavior Suppression. Psychology and Aging, 24(4), 890-900.

In the News and more!

January 2019 SPLAT lab director Dr. Shiota is profiled in this ASU Now article on awe.


December 2018 Dr. Shiota discuss the role of awe in the “overview effect” in this article celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 “Earthrise” photo.



2018 Erika, Adi, and Lani celebrate excellent poster presentations at the annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science, with lunch at the Nieman Marcus Rotunda in Lani’s hometown of San Francisco.

May 2018 Congratulations to newly minted Dr. Claire Yee!  We are so very proud of your accomplishments, thrilled about your upcoming postdoc at Northwestern, and eager to see what your future holds!

Spring 2018 We are thrilled to celebrate three graduating SPLAT lab RAs who have been accepted to graduate programs. In Fall 2018, Paige Murwin will begin the Masters program in Psychology at San Diego State University; and Mia Carrasco and Janell Tully have both been accepted to med school. Congratulations to all of this year’s graduating seniors, and thank you for all of your hard work in the lab!  

April 2018 The SPLAT lab takes time off to celebrate our accomplishments and have fun, as well as getting the science done! The grad students gave Lani carte blanche to plan a silly evening to celebrate the end of the 2017-18 year, so the team went all-out with costumes and acting for a murder mystery dinner party. Meet the Westongroves (left to right): Jonathan/Joan Binks (Makenzie O’Neil), spouse of daughter Catherine Binks, nee Westongrove (Claire Yee, because of course); illegitimate kid Richard/Rikki Marshall (Adi Wiezel); Emily Sanders (Erika Pages), fiancée of son Sebastian Westongrove (Ryan Hampton); and matriarch Antonia Westongrove (Dr. Shiota). Hint: this does not end well for Antonia! 

May 2017 The SPLAT lab grad students rocked it during our end-of-semester outing in Spring 2017, at an Escape Room in Scottsdale. Not only did we escape the room, we did it with fabulous teamwork (no bickering!) and a ton of fun!

May 2017 Huge congratulations to Dr. Alex Danvers on completing the ASU Social Psychology doctoral program! Alex is going on to a post-doctoral fellowship with the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma. Best wishes, Alex, we know you have a bright future ahead!

Spring 2017 Congratulations to SPLAT lab research assistant Allegra Campagna, who will be entering the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Washington State University this Fall.  We couldn’t be more proud of you, Allegra, and look forward to hearing of your future accomplishments!

The Awesomeness of Awe
Parade Magazine (10/7/16), Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness featuring quote by Dr. Lani Shiota.

MindfulHow Awe Sharpens our Brains (posted 17 May 2016).

Desert News National. Awe -- the sensation that unites (posted 2 Apr 2016).

 ASU NowThere's got to be more than 'love.' ASU professor [Dr. Lani Shiota] explains why our language has only one word for romantic affection, and how to ensure you can relate your feelings (posted 11 Feb 2016).

Halloween in the SPLAT Lab is ALWAYS fun, and in 2015 the costumes were easy (photo right)! Doctoral student Makenzie O’Neil coordinated this live staging of a promotional image for the movie Inside Out (we had Fear lined up, but he chickened out at the last minute). Fun fact: Professor Shiota’s own graduate advisor, Dacher Keltner, was an advisor on the movie!

Want to learn more about positive emotion? Check out the Handbook of Positive Emotions! This authoritative handbook reviews the breadth of current knowledge about positive emotions: their nature, functions, and consequences for individuals and society. Specific emotions are analyzed in depth, including happiness, pride, romantic love, compassion, gratitude, awe, challenge, and hope. Major theoretical perspectives are presented and cutting-edge research methods explained. The volume addresses neurobiological and physiological aspects of positive emotions as well as their social and intrapersonal contexts. Implications for physical health, coping, and psychopathology are explored, as are connections to organizational functioning and consumer behavior.  A special offer from Guilford PressSave 20% with promotion code 2E!

 “Handbook of Positive Emotions draws together a richly diverse set of scholarly perspectives on the contemporary science of pleasant affective states. Readers will encounter herein leading-edge theory and research that promises to challenge them to appreciate positive emotions with greater nuance and greater attunement to context and supporting values….After reading through the chapters, readers will come away with the feeling that they have examined a particular theoretical debate from nearly every possible angle. Each contributor offers the gift of making complex concepts accessible.”
 —from the Foreword by Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Just what the doctor ordered! The Handbook of Positive Emotions showcases exciting developments in the study of positive emotions and highlights key themes of interest to affective scientists, instructors, and clinicians alike.”
 —James J. Gross, PhD, Department of Psychology, Stanford University

“It has taken a long time for psychologists to understand the importance of positive emotions and to address them systematically. This state-of-the-art volume offers a well-chosen selection of theories, research, and applications. It includes discussions of specific emotions and addresses social processes and interindividual differences. Demonstrating how mature the study of positive emotions has become, this book should play an important role in consolidating future research efforts in the field. It is relevant for all students of emotion science, from undergraduates to seasoned researchers.”
 —Arvid Kappas, PhD, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen, Germany

Association for Psychological Science ObserverAll About Awe: Science Explores How Life’s Small Marvels Elevate Cognition and Emotion (posted April 2015). 

Research Opportunity Description

We review applications from new volunteer research assistants each semester.  Minimum requirements for joining the SPLAT lab team are:

Minimum commitment of one academic year/two semesters
For the first year, 399/499 enrollment at 10 hours/week
Attendance at weekly lab meetings, Wednesdays 4:30-5:30pm

Undergraduate RAs in the SPLAT lab contribute to every step of the scientific process, from discussion of emotion theory to hypothesis generation, study design, data collection and processing, and interpretation of study findings. Research assistants have a wide range of duties, all of which provide training in the varied methods used in emotion research. Dr. Shiota and the graduate students in the lab rotate all RAs through these duties in order to ensure that each student gets broad exposure to the research process, and to tailor the RA experience to each student’s particular interests. Duties may include:

Attending weekly lab meetings that include discussion of emotion theory, methodological training, study design and pilot testing, and practice for presentations such as thesis defenses, conference talks, and job talks  

Data collection: “hookup” of participants to physiological recording sensors; interacting with participants during the session; monitoring audio/visual recordings during the session; and managing computer-based protocols; Processing data from emotion tasks, including "cleaning" and "reducing" physiological data and coding behavior from video recordings. Coding participants’ written answers to free-response questions, creativity tests, or other measures that require consistent application of a coding system
Transcribing interviews and participant speech during experimental sessions

Contact Us

TO APPLY FOR A RESEARCH ASSISTANT POSITION please email Erika Pages at epages@asu.edu