SOCIAL IDENTITY AND MORALITY LAB
Thank you for your interest in the Social Identity and Morality Lab here at NYU. We have lab meetings every Friday from 10:30am - 12:00pm. Please contact us if you are interested in attending lab meetings or presenting your research. If you are interested in joining the lab, please see the Join Us page for more information.
Jay Van Bavel, Director
Jay Van Bavel is an Associate Professor of Psychology & Neural Science at New York University, an affiliate at the Stern School of Business in Management and Organizations, and Director of the Social Identity and Morality Lab. You can find him on Twitter @jayvanbavel. To read Jay's official bio in full, go to his NYU home page. Here is his unoffical bio:
Jay's Unofficial Bio
After giving up on his dream to become a professional hockey player, Jay became the first person in his family to graduate from college. It took him three years of his undergraduate degree before he realized that research was conducted at universities (despite attending the third largest research university in Canada). After his first year of graduate school at the University of Toronto, Jay's Ph.D. advisor (Ken Dion) tragically passed away and he was orphaned until a new assistant professor (Wil Cunningham) adopted him. A year later, his new advisor was poached by The Ohio State University and Jay moved to Columbus, Ohio as a visiting scholar. Jay completed most of his Ph.D. requirements (orals, proposal, etc) in various hotel lobbies during the annual SPSP convention since it was the only time and place he could get all his committee members in the same room. In his first year as an assistant professor, Jay had ten papers and three grants rejected, and zero publications. His son and daughter were born in his first two years as a faculty member and ensured that he maintained the appearance and intellectual capacity of a zombie until he went up for tenure.
Jay is currently adapting to remote teaching. The process includes once having to teach his NYU psych class to 360 students from a cell phone while trapped in an elevator with his kids. You can read more about the story here.
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Google Scholar profile
Philip Parnamets, NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Philip completed his PhD in cognitive science at Lund University and has spent two years as a postdoc with the Emotion Lab at Karolinska Institutet. His research is grounded in a broad interest in the cognitive and computational mechanisms underlying preference change, decision making and learning, especially in the moral domain. In the Social Identity and Morality lab his work focuses on dynamic models of social learning about moral agents and of moral choices generally. Philip spends his spare time creating, listening or dancing to electronic music. You can find him on Twitter @philipparnamets.
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Google Scholar profile
Kimberly Doell, NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
While at the University of Geneva, Kim completed her MSc and PhD in neuroscience, and then spent 3 years as a postdoc focusing on environmental and affective psychology. Her research broadly combines components of social cognition, reward processing, and sustainable decision making, with the overarching goal of investigating and promoting pro-social and pro-environmental behaviours. In the Social Identity and Morality Lab, Kim’s research aims to understand how various levels of social identity alter the way people process climate change information and influences their environmental behaviors. Kim enjoys spending her free-time outdoors. This could include relaxing in the park, hiking, or even scuba diving. You can find her on Twitter @kim_doell.
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Google Scholar profile
Victoria Spring, NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Victoria received their Ph.D. in psychology from the Pennsylvania State University in 2020, where they specialized in cognitive-affective neuroscience. Victoria is interested in social emotions such as empathy (and why we don’t have it), anger (and why we’re afraid of it), and moral judgment (and why we mostly just judge marginalized people). Specifically, they're interested in how individual, group, and situational factors influence our perception of different social emotions and how those emotions are transformed into subsequent moral and political behavior. You can find them on Twitter @VictoriaLSpring.
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Google Scholar profile
PHD STUDENTS - ADVISEES
Diego Reinero, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Diego received his BS from Skidmore College in 2012, where he double-majored in psychology and business. He began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2015, winning an NSF graduate research fellowship in his first year. Diego is broadly interested in how we resonate with other people's experiences (e.g., empathy, brainwave synchronization) and how our moral views change or remain rigid. In addition, he has done some meta-science work on psychology's "replication crisis” and concerns of political bias in psychology. Before starting his PhD, Diego tried to become a professional soccer player. It didn’t work out but he still plays competitively in leagues in NYC. When he’s not out on a soccer pitch, you can find Diego singing a cappella, beatboxing, or playing the violin or drums. You can find him on Twitter @diegoareinero.
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Google Scholar profile
Anni Sternisko, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Anni received her BSc in psychology from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany. She began her research in Social Psychology at NYU in the Fall of 2016. Anni is broadly interested in psychological processes related to people’s world views and construal of reality. She primarily focuses her research on psychological causes and consequences of conspiracy theory beliefs and how conspiracy theories come into existence. Anni is also studying political ideology, political action, and moral decision-making. If she’s not in her office, you can find Anni in her favorite coffee shop prepping for her debate club or running along Hudson river. You can find her on Twitter @AnniSternisko.
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Google Scholar profile
Elizabeth Harris, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Elizabeth received her BSc in psychology from the University of Western Ontario in 2017 and began her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU later that year. She is broadly interested in studying the effects of group identity on different aspects of cognition- such as the effects of political identity on punishment judgements and attention and the effects of national identity on taste evaluation. When not doing science, Elizabeth enjoys reading murder mysteries and getting lost in parks. You can find her on Twitter @EHarrisNYU.
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Google Scholar profile
Claire Robertson, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Claire received her BA in Psychology from Kenyon College in 2017 and then worked for two years as a research specialist in the Princeton University Baby Lab. She began her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2019, and since then has spent her time researching the use of moral and emotional content in news stories and voting behavior. She is also interested in misinformation, political partisanship, and moral decision making. When she’s not in the lab (or, more recently, working in her bed), you can find her wandering through the amazing farmers markets in NYC, writing down recipes for her friends, or reading anything she can get her hands on. You can find her on Twitter @CRobertson500.
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ACTIVE LAB AFFILIATES
Anastasia Shuster, Mt. Sinai Computational Psychiatry Postdoctoral Fellow
Anastasia completed her PhD in neuroscience at Tel Aviv University and is currently a postdoc in the Computational Psychiatry Unit at Mount Sinai, working with Dr. Xiaosi Gu. She uses a combination of computational, economic and neural approaches to study dishonest behavior and the role of social norms in patients with personality disorders and in healthy adults. She collaborates with the Social Identity and Morality lab on integrating insights from neuroeconomics and social psychology, to better understand the neural mechanisms underlying social phenomena such as cooperation. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys sad books, home renovation TV shows, and people-watching in Washington Square Park.
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Clara Pretus, NYU Social Psychology Visiting Scholar
Clara obtained her PhD at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where she specialized in Social Neuroscience, and her MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College London. Her research focuses on intergroup conflict, extremism and parochial altruism using neuroimaging techniques. She is now visiting the Social Identity and Morality lab, where she is conducting research on the role of moral-emotional language in online content diffusion. During the pandemic she has been daydreaming about being able to travel again. You can find her on Twitter @ClaraPretus
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Google Scholar profile
Rachel Leshin, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Rachel received her BA from Northwestern University in 2015, where she double-majored in psychology and gender studies. Her interests lie at the intersection of social and developmental psychology; her research primarily focuses on children's construction of social categories and the environmental inputs that shape this process. Her primary advisor is Marjorie Rhodes, and she collaborates with the Social Identity & Morality Lab on a line of research examining the influence of parental political ideology on children's conceptions of fairness and morality. You can find her on Twitter @rach_lesh.
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Steve Rathje, PhD student at the University of Cambridge
Steve Rathje is pursuing a PhD in Psychology at the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) as a Gates Cambridge Scholar. Previously, he studied Psychology and Symbolic Systems at Stanford University. Steve collaborates with the Social Identity and Morality lab on projects related to misinformation and political polarization on social media using methods from experimental psychology and computational social science. You can find him on Twitter @steverathje2.
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THESIS STUDENTS - ADVISEES
Tatiana Roberts, NYU Psychology MA Student
Tatiana received her BSc in Psychology from University of Maryland - College Park in 2017. After working for over two years as a research assistant in the Laboratory of Cognition and Emotion at UMD, she began her M.A. in Psychology at NYU in 2019 and is currently collaborating with Dr. Jay Van Bavel and Dr. Maureen Craig. She is broadly interested in studying social neuroscience, group identification, and social identity - and how these aspects affect solidarity, intergroup relations, prosociality, and cooperation.
Simran Kaur, NYU Psychology MA Student
Simran received her BA in Psychology from St. Joseph’s College and is a current MA student on the Social Psychology track. She is broadly interested in moral development and how social context affects judgments. She is currently working on her MA thesis integrating moral judgments and social projection. Simran enjoys painting and staying active by going on hikes and trails in her free time.
Sarah Grevy Gotfredsen, Lab Manager and NYU undergraduate student
Sarah is the lab manager and a current undergraduate student double majoring in psychology and journalism. Her general research interests include moral development and the influence of social context on moral judgement. She is currently working on her senior honors thesis on the development of collective moral judgments between dyads. In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading Japanese magical realism and drinking overpriced oatmilk lattes.
Lauren Hyoseo Yoon
Sarah Grevy Gotfredsen
Former Postdoctoral Fellows
Andrea Pereira, Data and Research Manager, Child Helpline International; Researcher, Minds
Peter Mende-Siedlecki, Professor, University of Delaware
Shona Tritt, Faculty Lecturer, University of Toronto
Sharareh Noorbaloochi, Vice President, Goldman Sachs
Oriel FeldmanHall, Professor, Brown University
Geraldine Coppin, University of Geneva
Andreas Kappes, Professor, City University of London
Christian Kaul, Chief Operating Officer, Stillfront Group
Tobias Brosch, Professor, University of Geneva
Former Primary Ph.D Students
Billy Brady, Postdoc, Yale University
Jennifer Ray, Behavior Change Solutions Manager, Mind Gym
Julian Wills, Researcher, Facebook
Leor Hackel, Professor, University of Southern California
Jenny Xiao, Professor, University of Washington-Tacoma
Former Secondary Ph.D Students
Kate Thorson, Professor, Barnard College
Daniel Yudkin, Postdoc, University of Pennsylvania
Rima-Marie Rahal, Researcher, Tilburg University
Ana Gantman, Professor, City University of New York-Brooklyn College
Hannah Nam, Professor, Stony Brook University
Yael Granot, Professor, Loyola University Chicago
Lisa Chalik, Professor, Yeshiva University
Amy Krosch, Professor, Cornell University
Kyle Ratner, Professor, University of California-Santa Barbara
Former MA Students
Nicole Nowotny, Executive Assistant, Radius Ventures, LLC
Nick Ungson, Visiting Asst. Professor, Albright College
Alea Skwara, PhD Student, University of California-Davis
Yogesh Raut, PhD Student, New Mexico State University
Justin (Duke) Lieberknecht, Associate Vice President of Marketing, American Homes 4 Rent
Former Lab Managers
Lisa Kaggen, Experience Researcher, Adobe
Sophie (Wharton) Smith, Insight Analyst, LinkedIn
Jillian Swencionis, PhD, Postdoc, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Former Honors Thesis Students
Jena Sohn, TBD [lab mentor: Philip Pärnamets]
Anna Balchunas, Development Assistant, The Rockefeller University [lab mentor: Diego Reinero]
Stephanie Leung, PsyD Student, Pace University [lab mentor: Billy Brady]
Jonathan Rosenthal, MD Student, NYU School of Medicine [lab mentor: Leor Hackel]
Jayson Dorsett, Research Specialist, University of Pennsylvania [lab mentor: Jennifer Ray]
Bosi Chen, PhD Student, San Diego State University / University of California-San Diego [lab mentor: Leor Hackel]
Jessica Dubin, Chemistry Teacher, Brooklyn Frontiers High School [lab mentor: Daniel Yudkin]
Julia Schaus [lab mentor: Jenny Xiao]
Natasha Thalla, PhD, UX Researcher, Facebook [lab mentor: Daniel Yudkin]
Leslie Berntsen, PhD, Lecturer, University of Southern California [lab mentor: Amy Krosch]
Bram Schumer, JD, Lawyer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP [lab mentor: Jay Van Bavel]
Ian Kurth, Senior Associate, Alta Capital Group [lab mentor: Jay Van Bavel]
Brienna Carter, Undergraduate, Yale University
Matt Leipzig, Research Assistant, Stanford University
Prianka Koya, Lab Manager, University of Chicago
John Andrew Chwe, PhD Student, NYU
Yi Zhang, PhD Student, University of Southern California
Zoe Kleiman, Neuroendocrine Unit Research Intern, Massachusetts General Hospital
Simone Van Taylor, Research Network Program Associate, Harmony Labs
Jino Kwon, MA Student, New York University
Emily Korf, Research Assistant, CSP
Suraiya Allidina, PhD Student, University of Toronto
Dominic Burkart, Software Engineer/Scientist
Mikaela Kane, MsEd Student, Hunter College
Siri Loken, MD Student, University of California-Irvine School of Medicine
Ashley Castro, PhD Student, DePaul University
Xi Shen, PhD Student, Cornell University
Shreyas Ganesh, Senior Analyst, Hearts & Science
Marc Simon, The Trevor Project
Eugene Jaw, Senior Data Associate, Publicis Sapient
Poorvi Iyer, PhD Student, London School of Economics
Melanie Corwin, Digital Crisis Services Coordinator, The Trevor Project
Ryan Salim, PhD Student, St. John's University
Nick Ichien, Graduate Student, University of California-Los Angeles
Expanded Bios of Alum
Andrea Pereira, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Andrea completed her PhD in social psychology at the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, and did a first postdoctoral fellowship at the VU Amsterdam. Her research focuses mainly on social justice questions, values support and political issues from an intergroup perspective. More specifically, she looks at the motives underlying justice judgments, including punishment judgments and how personal values affect such judgments.
Jennifer Ray, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Jennifer received her BA in psychology and political science from Williams College and completed her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2017. She is broadly interested in studying the person by situation interaction in the domains of moral psychology and psychology of justice. Her work focuses on questions about moral reasoning versus intuitionism, the flexibility and rapid tuning of moral judgments, moral change, and moral character development. She takes an inter-disciplinary and multi-method approach to these research topics, including using behavioral, neural, and phsyiological techniques. Jennifer is currently a Research Scientist at The NeuroLeadership Institute.
Peter Mende-Siedlecki, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Peter received his BA in Neuroscience and Behavior from Columbia University in 2007, before receiving a PhD in Psychology from Princeton University in 2014, working primarily with Dr. Alex Todorov. While working as a post-doc with Jay Van Bavel, Peter's work focused on interactions between social perception, social cognition, and social identity. His current work focuses on two primary directions: 1) How do we change our minds about other people based on their behavior, and how is updating shaped by bottom-up (e.g., distributions of behavior in the environment) and top-down factors (e.g., group membership)? 2) How do the groups to which we belong influence the way we see other people? For example, how are our inferences of experience of physical pain and mental agency shaped by group membership? Peter is currently an Assistant Professor at The University of Delaware.
Shona Tritt, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Shona completed her PhD at the University of Toronto in 2014. Broadly speaking, Shona’s research program seeks to better understand how belief systems and mindsets tune and shape perception and cognition, and conversely, how cognition and perception affect beliefs. For example, she has examined how different emotional states are associated with political ideology. Her current research examines how different aspects of ideological thought tune more basic cognitive processes, which in turn reinforce aspects of ideology. Shona is currently a faculty lecturer at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Sharareh Noorbaloochi, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Sharareh received her BSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, before completing her PhD in Psychology and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. She joined NYU as a postdoctoral fellow in 2013 and works closely with Professors Jay Van Bavel and John Jost. Sharareh is interested in the behavioral and neural bases of moral-political attitudes and in interventions targeted at promoting global justice. Currently she is studying the root causes of moral exceptionalism in the context of foreign policy disputes.
Geraldine Coppin, Former John B. Pierce Laboratory, Yale University & Max Planck Insitute for Metabolism Research
Géraldine was a postdoctoral fellow at the John B. Pierce Laboratory, Yale University (2012-2014) and at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research (2014-2015), working primarily with Prof. Dana M. Small. In collaboration with Jay Van Bavel, Géraldine investigates the effects of social identity on smell and taste perception. Géraldine is currently a senior Researcher & Lecturer at the University of Geneva, Switzerland at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Andreas Kappes, Former NYU Social Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Andreas studied psychology at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Hamburg, Germany. Andreas began a post-doctoral fellowship (sponsored by the German Science Foundation) at NYU in 2011 and worked primarily in Gabriele Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer's Motivation Lab. His research with Jay Van Bavel examined how ostensibly automatic, "hard-wired" processes are shaped and altered by processing goals and the social context. Andreas is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University (with Molly Crockett)
Christian Kaul, Former NYU Center for Neural Science Postdoctoral Fellow
Christian was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU (2010), working primarily with David Heeger on how feature-based attention influences perception. In collaboration with Jay Van Bavel, Christian used multi-voxel pattern analysis to investigate the representation of race in the human brain. Christian was the Managing Director, Head of HR for Groupon Australia, and recently founded "A Space For Art."
Tobias Brosch, Former NYU Center for Neural Science Postdoctoral Fellow
Tobias was a postdoctoral fellow at NYU (2010-2011), working primarily with Elizabeth Phelps. In collaboration with Jay Van Bavel, Tobias investigated the effects of social identity on rapid visual attention. Tobias is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland.
Billy Brady,Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Billy received his BA in psychology and philosophy from UNC-Chapel Hill, and his MA in philosophy from Georgia State University. He began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2012. He is broadly interested in unpacking how emotions regulate social situations and coordinate behavior between people. His research in the Social Identity and Morality lab focuses on 'contagion' of the moral emotions, and how such contagion affects moral judgments and behaviors in groups.
Julian Wills,Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Julian received his BA in Psychology from the University of Virginia and completed his PhD in Social Psychology in 2018. Broadly, Julian is interested in the intersection of moral psychology and social neuroscience. Julian’s current research with Jay Van Bavel examines (1) neural patterns that predict moral behavior, (2) the distinction between moral and non-moral representations, and (3) ideological influences on neural activation. Julian is currently working as a UX Researcher at Facebook.
Kate Thorson, NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Kate received her BA in Psychology from Bates College and completed her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2017. She is broadly interested in the role of emotions and motivations in social interactions. Some of her recent work explores stress contagion and the processes through which individuals become psychologically attuned to one another. In the Social Identity and Morality Lab, Kate is studying how moral emotions spread from one person to another and how this contagion impacts moral decision making in groups. Kate is currently a postdoctoral fellow working in the West Lab.
Daniel Yudkin, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Daniel received his BA in psychology and philosophy from Williams College and began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2011. He is interested in the elements that determine how people decide between right and wrong. One specific question he asks is: how do peoples' group affiliations change their moral judgments about others? In certain situations people judge members of their own group more harshly; in other cases people judge members of their own group more leniently. Currently Daniel's research is focusing on when and why this is the case.
Rima-Marie Rahal, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Rima received her BSc in psychology from Heidelberg University, and graduated with merit from the University of Amsterdam’s Research Master program in psychology. She is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, and a PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam. Her research interests lie in studying the cognitive bases of decision making, in social, and moral contexts.
Yi (Jenny) Xiao, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Jenny received her BA in psychology and biology from Bard College and completed her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2016. Jenny is broadly interested in studying social categorization, social identity, stereotyping and prejudice. In her research, Jenny tries to understand intergroup relations and interactions by exploring how high-level social psychological constructs such as social identity can alter low-level cognitive and perceptual processes. Jenny’s primary line of research with Jay Van Bavel sought to understand how our social identity and intergroup threat work in concert to shape our perceptual and representational experience of physical reality—particularly physical distance—which could in turn lead to detrimental consequences in intergroup relations and interactions. Jenny is currently a visiting instructor at Macalester College.
Leor Hackel, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Leor received his BS in Neuroscience & Behavior from Columbia University and began his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2011. Leor is interested in how social identity, context, and motivation impact social perception and decision making, at cognitive and neural levels of analysis. In particular, Leor's primary lines of research with Jay Van Bavel examine how self-representations and group motivations impact 1) the way we perceive minds and mental states in others and 2) the way we place value on social and non-social rewards. Leor is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University with Dr. Jamil Zaki.
Ana Gantman, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Ana received her BA in philosophy at Harvard University in 2010 and her PhD in social psychology at NYU in 2016. She is broadly interested in the interplay between motivation, perception, and morality, and specifically examines when and by what processes moral content reaches perceptual awareness. Ana is currently a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Psychology and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Hannah Nam, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Hannah received her BA in psychology at Wesleyan University in 2008 and her PhD in social psychology at NYU in 2016. She is interested in the psychology of social change and system justification, as well as the neurobiological basis of political ideology and behavior. Hannah is currently an assistant professor of political psychology in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University.
Yael Granot, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Yael received her B.A. in psychology from Vassar College in 2006 and her PhD in social psychology from NYU in 2016. Her research interests concern why people blame others, and how different patterns of visual or cognitive attention can influence legal punishment decisions. Yael is currently a postdoctoral scholar at Yale Law School's Justice Collaboratory.
Lisa Chalik, Former NYU Cognition & Perception Ph.D. Student
Lisa received her BA in Psychology from Rutgers University and completed her PhD in Cognition and Perception at NYU in 2015. She worked primarily with Marjorie Rhodes in the Conceptual Development and Social Cognition Lab, where she focused on how young children use social categories to make inferences about other people's attitudes and behaviors. One primary question that her research asks is: How do young children incorporate social categories into their moral evaluations? By the preschool years, children expect that people hold special moral obligations toward their fellow social category members. Lisa is currenly a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University (with Karen Wynn).
Amy Krosch, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Amy received her BS in psychology and environmental studies from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and completed her PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2015, working primarily with David Amodio. She is interested in the basic social and cognitive processes underlying intergroup justice and discrimination. Using behavioral and physiological measures, she examines how situational factors exacerbate racial inequality and how they shift the perceptual criterion used to determine group membership. Amy was a postdoctoral fellow at Harward University with Dr. Mina Cikara and is currently an Assistant Professor at Cornell University.
Kyle Ratner, Former NYU Social Psychology Ph.D. Student
Kyle received his BA from Cornell University and completed his PhD in Social Psychology at NYU in 2012, working primarily with David Amodio. Kyle is interested in how social contexts interact with biological systems to influence intergroup behavior. His current work focuses on two issues: 1) How do social identities bias perceptions and evaluations of other people? and 2) Why is stigmatized group membership a risk factor for poor achievement and health outcomes? Kyle is currently an Assistant Professor at UC Santa Barbara.
Nick Ungson, Former NYU Social Psychology MA Student
Nick received his BS in Psychology from the University of Florida, and began his MA in Psychology at NYU in 2011. He is interested in the implicit nature of morality and how it affects perception, decision-making, and behavior. Additionally, he is interested in examining the foundations from which moral positions arise and how stimuli in our environment activate those foundations. Currently, Nick is a PhD student at Lehigh University.
Alea Skwara, Former NYU Social Psychology MA Student
Alea received her BA in Theatre from Davidson College in 2009 and began her MA in Psychology at NYU in 2011. Her research interests focus on traumatic emotional experience and the resolution of these experiences, and on interpersonal bonding. More specifically, what are the neural correlates of emotional trauma, and how do they shift over time and with treatment? What individual and social differences affect this process? Alea is now a PhD student at UC Davis.
Yogesh Raut, Former NYU Social Psychology MA Student
Yogesh received his BA in psychology from Stanford University and MA in Cinematic Arts-Critical Studies from the University of Southern California, and began his MA in psychology at NYU in 2011. He is interested in how a wide range of psychological processes -- including preferences, social cognition, cognitive biases, aggression, attraction, and achievement -- are influenced by basic self and identity processes, such as conformity, optimal distinctiveness, self-verification, self-enhancement, and defensive self-affirmation. He is also interested in the transmission and impact of cultural models. Yogesh is currently a PhD student at the University of New Mexico.
Justin Duke, Former NYU Social Psychology MA Student
As a Masters student, Justin studied questions such as how are morals formed and is the process describable? Can we successfully describe the process and procedure of moral action in an absolute manner? Is the subjectivity of judgment connected to an objective process? Justin is now a consultant at the Neuroleadership Institute.
Lisa Kaggen, Former Lab Manager
Lisa was the Lab Manager for Jay Van Bavel and David Amodio from 2012-2015. She received her BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester. In the fall, she will begin her graduate studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, where she hopes to develop a model for using social neuroscience as a personally relevant "in" for the science-averse.
Sophie Wharton, Former Lab Manager
Sophie was the Lab Manager for Jay Van Bavel and David Amodio from 2011-2012. She received her BA in psychology from Harvard University. She is now working as a data analyst at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.
Jillian Swencionis, Former Lab Manager
Jillian was the Lab Manager for David Amodio and Jay Van Bavel at NYU (2009-2011). In collaboration with Jay Van Bavel, Jill worked on a line of research suggesting motivated influences on social memory, and an fMRI investigation of moral construals. Jillian is currently completing her PhD in Social Psychology at Princeton University with Susan Fiske.
Anna Balchunas, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Anna completed her undergraduate honors thesis in 2018, working with Diego Reinero and Jay Van Bavel. To tie together her interests in social psychology, non-profit work, and volunteer behavior, her thesis explored the effects of moral construal on volunteer commitment. During her time in the lab, Anna also assisted on projects dealing with group neural synchrony and psychology's "replication crisis". She now works in fundraising and grant writing at The Rockefeller University.
Natasha Thalla, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Natasha completed her honors thesis in 2013, working with Jay Van Bavel and Daniel Yudkin. Her thesis looked at the effect of the magnitude of the transgression and the group status on the treatment of the moral transgressors. She is generally interested in the psychology of religious behavior (particularly ritual), morality and belief systems. Currently Natasha is a PhD student at Lehigh University.
Leslie Berntsen, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Leslie completed her honors thesis at NYU with Jay Van Bavel in 2012. Her thesis explored the social, motivational, and cognitive factors that underlie how observers perceive and categorize multiracial individuals. Her other research interests include the neural substrates of major psychiatric illnesses, culture-specific manifestations of psychopathology, and the psychological causes of genocide. She will began her PhD in psychology at the University of Southern California in the Fall of 2012.
Bram Schumer, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Bram completed his honors thesis at NYU with Jay Van Bavel in 2011. Bram's thesis, entitled "The Future of Chimerica: Effects of perceived power discrepancies on willingness to act against an out-group" received the Doris Aaronson Award for Outstanding Thesis in Psychology at NYU. Bram is currently a student at Columbia Law School.
Bosi Chen, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Bosi is broadly interested in empathy, altruism and how social context can change people's prosocial behaviors. She worked with Jay Van Bavel and Leor Hackel on her honors thesis to specifically look at how group membership and self-construal impact prosocial decision, using theories and methods from behavioral economics and social psychology. She will begin working as a research associate at the Institute of Pediatric Neuroscience at NYU Child Study Center in March 2015.
Jessica Dubin, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Jessica is interested in the factors that go into moral judgements and how varying contexts can shift otherwise stable moral assessments. She completed her honors thesis with Jay Van Bavel and Daniel Yudkin during the 2013-2014 academic year and is now a Chemistry Teacher at Brooklyn Frontiers High School.
Julia Schaus, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Julia is an undergraduate studying psychology and child and adolescent mental health, and will be working on her Honors Thesis in the 2013-2014 academic year with Jenny Xiao. She is interested in both social and clinical psychology, and is currently taking pre-health classes with the hope of attending medical school in the future.
Ian Kurth, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Ian completed his honors thesis on moral evaluation in the Van Bavel Lab in 2012.
Jayson Dorsett, Former NYU Honors Thesis Student
Jayson is broadly interested in the flexibility of decision making processes as well as their contribution to stress and anxiety. He is a psychology major and will be working on his honors thesis with Jay Van Bavel and Jennifer Ray during the 2014-2015 academic year. He plans to pursue a Ph.D in Clinical psychology and a career as a Military Clinical Psychologist.
Dominic Burkart, Former Research Assistant
Dominic is a researcher and programmer who studies identity, group dynamics, information diffusion, and health – particularly in regards to LGBTQ+ populations. They are currently a research specialist and lab manager at the Princeton Social Neuroscience Lab, after spending two years as a research assistant and programmer in Jay Van Bavel's lab under Julian Wills and William Brady.
Suraiya Allidina, Former Research Assistant
Suraiya received her BS in psychology and neuroscience from the University of Toronto in 2017. She was a research assistant in the Social Identity and Morality Lab during the summer of 2016, working primarily with Diego Reinero. She is interested in the cognitive processes that contribute to stereotyping and prejudice, and in how these processes can be altered to reduce intergroup biases. Suraiya will begin her PhD with Wil Cunningham at the University of Toronto in the fall of 2017.
Download CV (PDF)