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Graduate Office

Sherri Gilliland, Graduate Records



Department of Psychology 
125 Moore Building 
The Pennsylvania State University 
University Park, PA 16802-3106

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Top row: Dr. Cook, Dr. Matsick, Dr. Swim

Middle row:  Dr. Vescio, Dr. Laurent, Dr. Adams

Bottom row: Dr. Gasper, Dr. Cameron, Dr. Mark

The social area faculty are highly involved in research and in the academic community. The social area faculty serve as editors and editorial board members, have written or edited a number of books, have a strong history of receiving grant funding, and have won numerous career, publication, and teaching awards. Our faculty have also been elected APA Divisional Presidents.

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Dr. Adams’s research is naturally situated at the interface of social psychology and vision cognition. His research examines how social cues such as race, gender, age, appearance, eye gaze, and emotion combine to form unified representations that influence our memory, social attention, emotion recognition, mentalizing, stereotyping, bias, impression formation, and behavioral responses to others. His work spans social neuroscience, cultural neuroscience, social cognition, and affective science. He also has a growing interest in studying humor as social and emotional regulator. For more information go to his Social Vision and Interpersonal Perception lab (social VIPs).

Dr. Cameron investigates the psychological processes involved in empathy and moral decision-making, using an interdisciplinary approach drawing on affective science, social cognition, and moral philosophy.  In much of his research, he examines motivational and situational factors that shape empathic emotions and behaviors toward others.  In other research, he uses implicit measurement and mathematical modeling to assess empathy and moral judgment in healthy, clinical, and incarcerated populations.  To learn more about his research, please visit the Empathy and Moral Psychology Lab web page.

Dr. Cook’s research investigates how important social categories like race, gender, sexual orientation, or chronic illness, can affect motivational, behavioral, and neurobiological processes over time. Dr. Cook also studies how brief psychological interventions can help people cope with concerns related to negative stereotypes or bias in social environments. To learn more about his research, please visit his webpage.
Dr. Gasper's research focuses on how affective states and experiences influence the way in which people process information, engage in creative thought, and make judgments and decisions. She is also interested in how people come to understand their emotions, communicate them, and regulate them. To learn more her research, please visit the Feelings, Behavior, and Information Processing Lab page.

Dr. Laurent studies how people think and feel about other people's minds and actions, including how people form and revise their moral judgments. Topics of interest include social and moral cognition, perspective taking and empathy, intentionality and mental states, and also intersections between psychology and the law.

Mel Mark is interested in the application of social psychology to improve the design, evaluation, and use of social programs. His students have taken positions in a variety of academic and non-academic positions.

Dr. Matsick is a feminist social psychologist with a primary focus in sexuality, gender, and prejudice. She draws on social psychological and feminist theories to highlight the standpoint of underrepresented groups (e.g., LGBQT individuals, women, and racial minorities) in research. In one stream of research, she examines sexuality, sexual prejudice, and health outcomes among sexual and gender minorities. In a second area of research, she examines how people with less power (minority groups) perceive and respond to those with more power (dominant groups). To learn more about her research, please visit her lab website.

Dr. Shields research is at the intersection of emotion, gender, and feminist psychology. In emotion she focuses on perceptions of others’ emotion regulation and the use of emotion representation (e.g., emotion language) to assert or challenge status and power. In gender she studies intersectionality of social identities and interventions to reduce sexism, as through WAGES, which illustrates the nature and cumulative effects of unconscious bias in the academic workplace. She also studies the history of the psychology of women and gender.
Dr. Swim's interest lies in understand people's involvement, or lack thereof, in environmental problems and willingness to take action.  She is interested in both basic and applied research that can motivate individuals and organizations to work toward a sustainable and vibrant world. To learn more, please visit Dr. Swim's web page.
Dr. Vescio’s research seeks to understand the factors that can facilitate or temper the expression of sexism, racism, and heterosexism. Within that context, Dr. Vescio is interested in the interplay between the stereotypic behaviors of powerful people and the consequences that those behaviors have for the emotions, motivation, and performance of low power women and people of color. Much of her recent research examines the consequences of threats to the masculine self-concepts of White, able-bodied, privileged men on discriminatory behavior toward women, ethnic outgroups, and LGTB others.
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