VIMLab Fall 2012, left to right: Derek Harmon, Sena Koleva, Erica Beall (with Henry), Tim Hayes, Jen Labrecque, Jacob Lee, Kate Johnson, Jesse Graham, Susanna Stone, Taylor Markey, Gabby Sharaga, Michelle Low, Pete Meindl, Abbie Jones, Ravi Iyer, Arianna Uhalde, Ben Heddy


Principal Investigator

Jesse Graham

Jesse principally investigates the moral, ideological, and religious principles that cause so much conflict and yet provide so much meaning to people's lives. He is particularly interested in how ideological and moral values shape behavior outside of conscious awareness, and in how these effects vary across individuals and cultures.


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Lab Manager

Susanna Stone
Susanna was the VIMLab’s first RA and continued on to become the VIMLab Lab Manager. She received her BA in Psychology from USC with honors. Since completing her degree, she has worked as the VIMLab Lab Manager and as a researcher in the Management and Organization department at the Marshall School of Business. Her research primarily examines gender, ideology, stereotypes, and system justification. She hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in Social Psych research.



Ravi Iyer
Ravi studies the roots of moral and political beliefs with an eye toward application. He is specifically interested in research areas that can promote alternative framing for topics that typically engender compensatory processes, such as anti-drug, anti-war, and overtly partisan messaging.


Sena Koleva
Sena is broadly interested in studying morality, romantic relationships, political ideology, the biological and evolutionary processes that underly romantic attraction, mate selection and love. In addition, she is interested in religion and culture. In addition to research and teaching, Sena is passionate about sharing scientific findings with the general public in an accessible and engaging manner though science talks and writings for a lay audience. Also, kittens.


Graduate Students

Erica Beall
Erica is interested in the use of implicit methods to investigate psychological relationships between moral judgments and political ideologies. She would also like to explore the roles of emotion and self-regulation in moral and political cognition.


Kate Johnson
Kate is interested in how group identities and social norms shape individuals' moralities and affect how people perceive and react to moral situations. She is also interested in exploring the underlying differences between prescriptive and proscriptive morals and how these differences affect our understanding of moral psychology.


Pete Meindl
Meet Linda and Bob. Linda thinks it's morally wrong to eat cheese. Bob thinks it's morally wrong to kill people. Every once in a while, Linda eats cheese. Every once in a while, Bob kills people. Pete's research is intended to figure out why.


Charisse Corsbie-Massay
Charisse earned undergraduate degrees in Brain and Cognitive Science and Comparative Media Studies from MIT, with an emphasis on psychological development, television, and new media, and a Masters from USC's School for Cinematic Arts in Critical Studies with a focus on youth culture and identity development. Her research investigates the relationship between media and psychological development and identity.


Derek Harmon
Derek is a PhD student in the Management and Organizations department at the Marshall School of Business. His work is interdisciplinary with the goal of trying to understand the relationship between individual perceptions (cognitive, affective) and societal influences (social structure, culture). In his former life, he was an auditor at a Big Four accounting firm yet earned an undergraduate degree in Philosophy. If you can figure out how all these things go together, please let him know.


Tim Hayes
Tim came to USC from New York City, where he earned his BFA in Jazz Piano Performance before becoming interested in psychology and completing post-baccalaureate coursework and working as a research assistant in two labs at CUNY Hunter College. Tim's primary research interests lie in the areas of norms, social influence, and persuasion, with a particular emphasis on the effects of source ideology on message construal, and the potentially moderating influences of moral message content on traditional persuasion outcomes. Tim is 28 years old, and his real life, outside of his imagination, is very, very sad indeed. He is a second-year graduate student in the social psychology PhD program. His expected graduation date is May 2046.


Priyanka Joshi
Priyanka is a PhD student in the Management and Organization Behavior program at Marshall School of Business. Her research interests broadly revolve around the role of status and power in intra- and intergroup functioning. She is particularly interested in the processes by which individuals negotiate power in interpersonal relationships and respond to unfairness and inequality. She is also interested in psychophysiological methods (particularly Facial EMG) to study social behavior and meta-analytic research techniques.


Jen Labrecque
Jen is a third-year graduate student in the social area working with Dr. Wendy Wood.  Her primary research program focuses on exploring the mechanisms involved in habitual control of behavior, and strategies individuals can use to harness their habits in order to accomplish their goals. Inspired by a series of studies from collaborator Dr. David Neal, along with discussions sparked in Dr. Jesse Graham's ideology and morality seminar, Jen is also excited to begin a project examining implications of embodiment for emotional decision-making.


Jacob Lee
Jacob is a Ph.D student in marketing who is in desperate search of a dissertation topic. In the meantime, he is interested in topics such as inference making, God, and prosocial behaviors. Jacob speaks fluent Korean and wishes to learn harmonica, guitar, and piano if he can ever find time away from studying (basketball).


Kevin Petway
Kevin is a graduate student in the Quantitative area of Psychology at USC.  He is interested in the measurement of personality and motivation, specifically the validity of such measures, and is interested in the longitudinal trajectories of these types of measures.  In addition, he is currently trying to understand the advantages and disadvantages of transforming these measures into computerized adaptive tests.


Matt Sutherland
Matthew is a graduate student in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences program. His primary adviser is Mara Mather. His undergraduate training is in Philosophy and Psychology. His main research interests focus on how emotional responses change the way people attend to and remember visual objects and scenes. He is also interested in whether differences in political orientation can predict biases in attention to approach and avoidance-related stimuli. To this end he uses behavioral and psychophysiological methods, and has recently begun to incorporate fMRI methods into his research. On a personal note, Matthew is a Los Angeles native with a strong affinity for saltwater, snow, and condensed urban areas.


Research Assistants

Veronica Chu
Veronica is currently a junior majoring in Philosophy and Psychology. She hopes to learn about the process of experimental research in action and to one day attend graduate school. Her interests in psychology lie within cognition, specifically in the areas of attention, beliefs, motivation, and emotion.


Jessilyn Chwa
Jessilyn is a junior from Temple City, CA majoring in Philosophy, Politics, and Law, with a minor in Musical Studies: Piano. She plans on attending law school after she graduates from USC. She likes to run, play volleyball, and spend time with kids. She also enjoys average-length walks.


Cecilia Costa
Cecilia graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 with a B.A. in Psychology.  She is currently a graduate student at Pepperdine University in the M.A. in Psychology program. While at UCSD she was a research assistant at the UCSD Infant Vision Lab, where her research pertained to studying habituation involving face processing in 10-month-old infants.


Joseph Go
Joseph is currently a junior double majoring in Neuroscience and Philosophy. He is planning to attend medical school after graduating from USC and joined the VIM lab in order to learn more about the research processes that underlie behavioral and cognitive studies. He is particularly interested in ethics, morality, and psychology. Joseph is from Hawaii but unfortunately does not know how to surf, although he does like short walks along the beach.


Jennifer Gongola
Jennifer is a Psychology major who loves research. She is fascinated by the ways that psychology influences our legal system and shapes social justice. She would like to follow these interests further in graduate school and one day find ways to apply any findings into practical means of helping people and improving the systems we rely on. Her favorite past time is cruising on her standup paddle board at the beach!


Michelle Low
Michelle is a senior from Singapore, majoring in Psychology. She is interested in research and hopes to pursue this further in graduate school. Her interests include morality, religion, and anything political. Her favorite TV sitcom is Parks and Recreation!


Taylor Markey
Taylor is a sophomore studying Neuroscience and Philosophy. She is pre-med and hopes to one day be a psychiatrist. She loves Harry Potter.


Gabby Sharaga
Gabby is a junior from Ventura, CA double majoring in psychology and political science.  She has yet to figure out what she plans on doing upon graduating from USC, but she hopes to find a way to combine her passions for psychology, public policy, and education.  Gabby is an active member of USC Troy Camp and an intern at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.  She loves to run and visit her older sister (who lives in Hawaii) as much as possible.


Adi Vargas
Adi graduated from Whittier College with a B.A. in Psychology and Child Development. She is interested in learning about the functions of brain structures as they relate to decisions that have a moral component, as well as how emotions influence this process.


Carolyn Windler
Carolyn is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology and double minoring in Theatre and Natural Sciences. She hopes to pursue Psychiatry. She is a member of the USC Helenes, a Peer Health Educator with OWHP, and an RA x 2 because she also is a Resident Advisor in Birnkrant. In her extensive amount of free time she enjoys playing soccer, trying to play guitar, and hiking.


Guest Stars/Honorary VIMLabbers:

Morteza Dehghani

Pete Ditto

Monique Fleming

Andrea Glenn

Rajiv Maheswaran

John Monterosso

Tage Rai

Brian Rathbun

Steve Read

Simone Schnall

Barry Schwartz

David Tannenbaum

Hulda Thorisdottir

Piercarlo Valdesolo

Scott Wiltermuth

Wendy Wood