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Stephen Wilson

Stephen Wilson

Associate Professor of Psychology

311 Moore Building
Office Phone: (814) 865-6219


  1. Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2008


Research Interest

My graduate training was in the areas of clinical and biological/health psychology and cognitive neuroscience. My research interests reflect this interdisciplinary background. Along with a fantastic group of students and staff, I study addiction and other types of behavior that negatively affect health. Our research combines theories and methods from the fields of psychology and neuroscience. Much of our work focuses on cigarette smoking, which is a form of addictive behavior that is particularly harmful and costly. A major goal of our work is to shed light on why it is so difficult for people to quit using cigarettes and, in turn, to devise ways to use this information to advance the treatment of smoking. Our current projects are largely organized around three interrelated questions: First, what causes people to fail when they try to quit smoking (or to forgo quitting in the first place)? Second, how do certain individual differences (e.g., sex, personality traits) make people more or less successful at quitting smoking? Third, what are the best strategies to teach people to make them more successful when trying to quit smoking? Although much of our research focuses on cigarette smoking, we view our work as highly relevant to drug addiction and other behaviors that have a negative impact on health (for example, poor eating habits). You can learn more about the research being conducted in the Addiction, Smoking, and Health Laboratory by using this link to visit our lab website.

I will be recruiting a graduate student to begin in fall of 2018. I encourage you to email me to discuss your research and career interests if you are considering applying to join my lab as a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Penn State. A brief summary of the characteristics that make students a good fit for my lab is available for download at this link .

Select Publications

Hobkirk, A.L., Nichols, T.T., Foulds, J., Yingst, J.M., Veldheer, S., Hrabovsky, S., . . Wilson, S.J. (2017). Changes in resting state functional brain connectivity and withdrawal symptoms are associated with acute electronic cigarette use. Brain Research Bulletin. doi:

MacLean, R.R., Martino, S., Carroll, K.M., Smyth, J.M., Pincus, A.L., & Wilson, S.J. (2017). Momentary associations between valuing health and reported craving in daily smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 19(6), 716-722. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntw253

MacLean, R.R., Nichols, T.T., LeBreton, J.M., & Wilson, S.J. (2016). Effects of cognitive load on neural and behavioral responses to smoking-cue distractors. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 16(4), 588-600. doi:10.3758/s13415-016-0416-5

Manglani, H.R., Lewis, A.H., Wilson, S.J., Delgado, M.R. (2017). Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer of nicotine and food cues in deprived cigarette smokers. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 19(6), 670-676. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntx007

Wilson, S. J., & Sayette, M. A. (2015). Neuroimaging craving: urge intensity matters. Addiction, 110(2), 195-203. doi:10.1111/add.12676

Wilson, S. J., Smyth, J. M., & MacLean, R. R. (2014). Integrating ecological momentary assessment and functional brain imaging methods: New avenues for studying and treating tobacco dependence. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 16(Suppl_2), S102-S110. doi:10.1093/ntr/ntt129

Zelle, S.L., Gates, K.M., Fiez, J.A., Sayette, M.A., & Wilson, S.J. (2017). The first day is always the hardest: Functional connectivity during cue exposure and the ability to resist smoking in the initial hours of a quit attempt. NeuroImage, 151, 24-32. doi:

Research Interests:

Clinical (Adult and Child):
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