Cognitive Area faculty investigate a wide range of topics including language, learning, memory, perception, and rhythms of human behavior. We use a wide range of methodological approaches in our research including functional neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG, DTI), behavioral approaches, as well as computational and mathematical modeling. Our area promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration through an extensive network of university affiliations that facilitate research initiatives spanning the globe.
We are committed to providing students with high quality training in an atmosphere that promotes many formal and informal interactions with faculty and peers from around the department and the university. Our program is tailored to meet the individual needs of our students. Students may choose to participate in the APA award-winning Specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN) program, or select from a variety of minors and dual-degree options as appropriate. For more information, see the Prospective Graduate Students page.
Cognitive Area News
Susan Mohammed led the development of The Pennsylvania State University Team Science Toolbox (https://ctsi.psu.edu/research-support/team-science-toolbox/), which features evidence-based team interventions to support team leaders and members dealing with the complex challenges of forming, launching, and managing teams. The toolbox is specifically tailored to team science novices who desire ready access to practical, pertinent team knowledge addressing specific team needs. Toolbox content highlights team interventions supported by science to help identify and select the right members, aid teams in getting off to a good start, and help members foster effective team dynamics. As such, an array of tools are featured to support diverse teams throughout their life cycle from team formation (e.g., team assembly, team composition), to team launch (e.g., kick-off meetings, ice breakers, team ground rules, team goal setting, team charters) to team maturation (e.g., cohesion, psychological safety, conflict resolution, vertical leadership, shared leadership, team building, team meetings, team debriefs). Check out the toolbox at: https://ctsi.psu.edu/research-support/team-science-toolbox/.
Dr. Alicia Grandey and coauthors (Dr. Allison Gabriel and Dr. Eden King) were honored with this award by the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management, for their 2021 publication “Tackling taboo topics: A review of the three Ms in working women’s lives” in Journal of Management. Read a quick summary here: https://journalsblog.sagepub.com/blog/guest/management/tackling-taboo-topics
Dr. Alicia Grandey recently received funding from the Social Science Research Institude (SSRI) to support return-to-work in the pandemic era with more Healthy-Inclusive-Productive Workplaces. This interdisciplinary team of scholars from across Penn State’s colleges and campuses will be connecting with industry partners to develop innovative and actionable research.
You can view her research on the HIP Workplace website.
Dr. Susan Mohammed (Co-Principal investigator), along with architectural engineers (Robert Leicht, Principal Investigator, Alan Wagner, Co-Principal Investigator, Bryan Franz, Co-Principal Investigator) and I/O Psychologist Marissa Shuffler (Co-Principal Investigator), will investigate how to integrate robots into predominantly human-centric construction work teams. This research is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation over the next three years across three universities (Penn State, Florida State, and Clemson). In the article, she explains her role in the project:
“We will specifically investigate the degree to which human trade works are ‘on the same page’ regarding the capabilities, coordination patterns and perceptions of robots in team dynamics, which has major implications for construction crew safety, efficiency and effectiveness…”
Click here to read more about Dr. Mohammed’s research. Congrats!
Dr. Susan Mohammed recently received an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant entitled “Longitudinal Exploration of Engineering Design Team Performance in Relation to Team Composition, Climate, and Communication Patterns” to study engineering design teams. She serves as a co-principal investigator on this 3-year interdisciplinary project along with Dr. Scarlett Miller (Penn State, Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering, Principal Investigator) and Dr. Kathryn Jablokow (Penn State, Engineering Design and Mechanical Engineering, Co-Principal Investigator). Click here to read more about their research. Congrats Susan!
Dr. Alicia Grandey will be the keynote speaker at the Work And Organizational Psychology (WAOP) conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in November 2019. Click here for more details. Congrats Alicia!
Developmental area student, Junqiang “Jacob” Dai, and his advisor, Dr. Suzy Scherf, recently published a comprehensive review of neuroimaging studies investigating the relation between pubertal and functional brain development in humans.
Earlier this month, our program traveled to National Harbor, MD for the 34th Annual Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology conference! There were several items on the conference program that involved research from Penn State University I/O students and faculty. We also held our annual alumni reception, where we were able to honor Rick Jacobs for his 40 years of service to the program! See below for pictures taken throughout our time there!
In mid-October, our program hosted Dr. Scott Highhouse, Professor of Psychology and Ohio Eminent Scholar at Bowling Green State University for a visit. He presented a talk entitled:
Intersection of Industrial-Organizational Psychology with Judgment and Decision Making: A Personal Account
Here are some pictures from his visit:
Thank you for coming out Scott, we enjoyed having you!
Dr. Alicia Grandey recently wrote an article for The Conversation entitled “Black employees in the service industry pay an emotional tax at work,” based on a study with Penn State University IO program alum Dr. Lawrence Houston. Their research has gotten attention in Newsweek.com as well as The Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle and Philadelphia Inquirer. Congrats Alicia!
Gordon Sayre won the ThinkSwiss Scholarship, permitting him to work in Switzerland with Dr. Laurenz Meier over the summer of 2018. Congrats!
Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser will be part of the new NIH Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) initiative.
A new study, led by Dr. Koraly Perez-Edgar, Dr. Kristin Buss, and Dr. Vanessa LoBue (Rutgers), will examine social development in the first two years of life.
If you are interested in participating please check out the CAT Lab website or email us.
Developmental Psychology alumnus, Dr. Lauren Myers, now at Lafayette College, examined the impact of video chats on social interaction for children.
Dr. Susan Mohammed was recently interviewed by New York Magazine’s blog, Science of Us, regarding her opinion on a commonly used method of bringing groups of people together for the first time, icebreakers. Apparently, they can be ineffective if not done properly.
“Icebreakers are generally a first step and they can be valuable in … getting people to know each other,” she says. “But in terms of group cohesion or deep levels of trust or psychological safety or an open climate, it’s just not going to be enough.”
In this interview, she offers strategies for making icebreakers more effective.
And one way to make people a little more engaged, Mohammed says, is to outline right off the bat what they’ll be doing, explain the goal of the icebreaker — are they there to build trust? learn something new about a person? figure out roles for a team? — and to reiterate those same points again once it’s all done.
Dr. Susan Mohammed was invited to present her work on temporal orientations and how that affects team performance at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) this past May. Click here for a write up in the APS Observer on the session as well as highlights from what she discussed. Great job Susan!
Dr. Grandey was recently interviewed by The New Yorker magazine about her research on emotional labor as well as other factors that influence work environments.
Even more salient, Grandey argues, is the feeling of inauthenticity that enforced emotional displays create. In her research, she has found that putting on an emotional mask at work—conforming to a certain image that doesn’t necessarily correspond to how you feel or who you are—drains you of energy that can only be replenished if you then have an opportunity to be yourself. “You have to be able to be real,” she told me. “If we’re expecting people to be super happy and positive to people you’re expected to be positive with as part of your job”—to smile and act upbeat with clients and customers—“if you can’t turn around and be real with co-workers, you are amplifying emotional labor. And you have a real problem on your hands.
Click here for the full story. Congrats!
Last month, Dr. Alicia Grandey organized an NSF workshop on emotions, creativity, and work climate that brought together researchers in psychology, organizational behavior, and engineering from across the campus as well as around the world.
Click the link below for an overview of the workshop.
Dr. Alicia Grandey was recently interviewed as part of the NPR’s podcast Invisibilia about emotional labor and how McDonald’s is changing emotion norms in Russia!
Click here for more information on the interview:
Click here to access the full podcast:
Dr. Hunter’s award winning paper (see below) has been featured in various news outlets, including Fortune, Business Insider, and Yahoo.com. The research, entitled, Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas,
Hunter, S. T., & Cushenbery*, L. (2015). Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30(4), 621–639. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9386-1
Dr. Hunter’s award winning paper (see below) has been featured in various news outlets, including Fortune, Business Insider, and Yahoo.com. The research, entitled, Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas, found that disagreeableness did not influence the originality of the ideas produced, but did influence the extent to which the ideas were employed by team members. Hunter and Cushenbery also found that disagreeableness influenced idea originality only in contexts where new ideas were discouraged and original ideas were proposed by other team members.
Click on the links below to access the news articles!
Hunter, S. T., & Cushenbery, L. (2015). Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30(4), 621–639. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-014-9386-1
Dr. Susan Mohammed will be giving an invited talk on how individual differences in time perceptions affect work behavior at this year’s Association for Psychological Science conference. It will be part of a cross-cutting themes program that features talks from different areas of psychology in order to inform us of multiple approaches to understanding a single topic. The conference will be held from May 26-29th, 2016 in Chicago, IL.
Congratulations Dr. Mohammed! Click here for more information.
Congratulations are in order for Drs. Alicia Grandey, Sam Hunter, and James LeBreton, as well as some of our graduate and undergraduate student alumni (Allison Gabriel, Jennifer Diamond Acosta, and Lily Cushenberry)!
The editorial board of the Journal of Business and Psychology selected their best papers of 2015 for the Editor Commendation award. Over 500 papers were considered for this honor, and of the 9 selected, 3 were awarded to Penn State I/O’s own faculty and student alumni!
Check out their papers below (Faculty, *doctoral students, **undergraduates):
Dr. Alicia Grandey was recently interviewed by the NPR Actuality podcast. She discussed service with a smile and the toll that emotional labor takes on service employees. Click here to listen!
Our own Dr. Alicia Grandey was recently interviewed by the NPR Actuality podcast. She discussed service with a smile and the toll that emotional labor takes on on service employees. Click here to listen!
Our own Dr. Alicia Grandey was recently featured in ScienceNews’ Culture Beaker blog:
As a customer, you may find this relentless cheer uplifting or annoying (I err on the latter; please stop asking me about my day and just make my coffee). In the service industry, this “emotional labor,” to use the academic parlance, is typically a job requirement that’s enforced by management. Yet a large body of research suggests that emotional labor comes at a cost and one that’s primarily paid by the employee. I can’t speak to sales at Pret A Manger, but research also finds little evidence that the practice increases store profits.
“It’s sort of an invisible form of work,” says Penn State organizational psychologist Alicia Grandey, who has studied emotional labor for years. “But it has a real cost. We really want management to think about this: If this is really important to you as a company, if you value it, then you should train for it, and compensate for it. And you should create an environment that is supportive for the employee.”
Dr. Sam Hunter and alumni Dr. Lily Cushenbery have been featured in numerous recent news stories (see list below) based on a recently published article in the Journal of Business and Psychology entitled Is being a jerk necessary for originality? Examining the role of disagreeableness in the sharing and utilization of original ideas. In general their research found that being a jerk was not related to having original ideas, just getting ideas heard in a group. The findings have had such an impact that it has been translated into several other languages.
Hunter, S.T., & Cushenbery, L. (2014). Is Being a Jerk Necessary for Originality? Examining the Role of Disagreeableness in the Sharing and Utilization of Original Ideas. Journal of Business and Psychology.
Links to News sources
Human Resource Executive Online
The news report.com
Quo magazine (translated into Spanish)
OggiScienza (translated into Italian)
On November 7th, 2014 our own Dr. Susan Mohammed won the 2014 Best Leadership Paper Award Winner from the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, Ivey Business School, Western University, London, Ontario. For her lead authorship on the paper Temporal Diversity and Team Performance: The Moderating Role of Temporal Leadership.You can read more about the award by visiting the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for leadership page.
Mohammed, S., & Nadkarni, S. (2011). Temporal diversity and team performance: The moderating role of temporal leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3), 489-508.
The Steps For Safety 5K in State College: Alicia Grandey, Susan Mohammed, Jodi Buffington, Morgan Krannitz & Brad Jayne getting ready to walk/run the 5K.