VIMLab Fall 2015, left to right: Julia Newell, Sara Doyle, Ben Smith, Lucas Carden, Jesse Graham, Kate Johnson, David Psychology Newman, Carol Iskiwitch, Marlon Mooijman, Bryna Tsai, Joe Hoover, Derek Harmon, Framed Erica Beall, Jennifer Talevich, Peter Meindl.


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

Bryna Tsai
Bryna received her BA in Psychology from Princeton University in 2013. She wrote her senior thesis on parenting styles and how they affect college students' academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, and emotional well-being. She hopes to gain acceptance into a Clinical Psychology program sometime in the near future, and continue research on parenting styles. Currently, she is also the lab manager for Dr. Darby Saxbe's Neuro-Endocrinology of Social Ties (NEST) Lab, where they are looking at couples' transition into first-time parenthood. Bryna is also certified to wield fairly large needles and jab them into your veins to suck out your life force.



Marlon Mooijman
Marlon aims to understand contemporary challenges in psychology, leadership and management. Corporations and societies too often fail to understand why (social) problems keep recurring. By employing a behavioral- scientific approach, Marlon elucidates why we behave in certain ways and how we can improve ourselves to achieve better outcomes. His focus lies in understanding the role of (1) power and status, (2) morality and ethics, and (3) political beliefs and ideologies. At USC, he mainly works with Dr. Graham on the moralization of self-control.


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. Erica is still dissertating, but has just begun a tenure-track faculty position at St. John's College!


Joe Hoover
Joe uses computational and experimental methods to study moral phenomena across multiple levels of analysis. In particular, he is interested in using naturally occurring data, such as those collected from social media, to investigate the development and spread of moral beliefs and sacred values and to build predictive models of moral behavior. At a lower levels of analysis, he is also interested in dynamic system models of moral cognition.


Carol Iskiwitch
Carol is interested in moral metacognition as well as how moral judgments change, whether over time or by context. She is interested in using computational, observational, and experimental methods to explore these topics. Carol is co-advised by Jesse Graham and Steve Read.


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.


Rod Albuyeh
Rod is a PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations, with interests in political psychology, image updating, and quantitative methods. He is also interested in the psychology of ideology and attribution theory. Outside of his academic pursuits, he is a dabbling multi-instrument musician and yoga practitioner.


So Young Choe
I am interested in moral emotion and moral judgment. To elaborate, I want to know how individual differences in emotion and personality are related to moral decision-making. My first publication came out in Judgment and Decision Making. After getting a Master's in psychology at Seoul National University followed by pre-doctoral training at CU Boulder, now I've become one of those PhD students who try to figure out how to graduate. With biology background from undergrad (SNU) and fMRI experiences, I hope to conduct experiments that entail physiology and neuroimaging as well as behavioral studies. p.s. Please don't call me 'So.' 'So Young' is my first name.

Derek Harmon
Derek is a PhD student in the Management and Organizations department at the Marshall School of Business. He conducts research that lies at the intersection of communication, cognition, and institutions. He is interested in rhetorical theory, moral and social judgments, and the micro-foundations of institutional theory and strategy. 


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.


David B. Newman
David is a Ph.D.student in social psychology working primarily with Norbert Schwarz and Arthur Stone. He is interested in subjective well-being and decision making as well as the relationships among religion, culture, and well-being. In each of these areas, David is particularly interested in using experience sampling techniques to measure daily and momentary states of well-being. At USC, he hopes his research will interest him enough to stay awake when presenting at conferences. 


David T. Newman
David is a PhD student in Management and Organization at USC's Marshall School of Business, working primarily with Scott Wiltermuth. He is interested in developing moral foundations theory, exploring the relationship between moral psychology and law, designing ethical systems for businesses, and empirically validating the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. Seriously. An unpracticed lawyer and frequent contrarian, David can often be found rebelling without a proximate cause. 


Ben Smith
Ben joined USC in 2013 under primary advisor Prof. Steve Read. Methodologically, he's interested in using computational modeling techniques to simulate neurological and psychological processes. Moral psychology, particularly its intersection with political psychology, the neural bases of moral values, and decision-making are the functions of the brain Ben is most interested in studying. He's also interested in the implications psychological and neurological findings have for public policy. 

Arianna Uhalde
Arianna is a PhD student in marketing at USC's Marshall School of Business. In one stream of research, she studies consumers' psychological and behavioral responses to brand transgressions. She is particularly interested in how consumers respond when a beloved person brand (e.g., Tiger Woods; Paula Deen; Bill Clinton) acts immorally. In a second stream of research (which is not particularly relevant to values, ideology, or morality), Arianna explores consumers' pursuit of "aversive" experiences, or experiences that elicit negative emotions. She's trying to figure out why sane people sometimes subject themselves to extreme discomfort--by participating in Tough Mudder runs, watching horror movies, eating disgusting foods, etc. 



Zhang Li (张力)
Zhang Li is a graduate student from China. He is now in the Master of Applied Psychology program and wants to get a PhD in the future. He is interested in how cultural differences shape people's moral judgment. He is also interested in how Chinese and Americans understand and misunderstand each other, and how they misunderstand their misunderstandings.


Research Assistants


Julia Loup
Julia is majoring in psychology and minoring in communication design. She is continually fascinated by the intricacies of human emotion and identity, especially concerning the geriatric population. She hopes to pursue a career in Human Factors Psychology, consulting for product or system development for specialized populations. She is a member of the USC Helenes, outdoors guide for Scoutfitters, and loves to collect vinyl.

Guest Stars/Honorary VIMLabbers:

Charisse Corsbie-Massay

Morteza Dehghani

Pete Ditto

Nate Fast

Monique Fleming

Andrea Glenn

Ravi Iyer

Sena Koleva

Rajiv Maheswaran

John Monterosso

Tage Rai

Brian Rathbun

Steve Read

Simone Schnall

Barry Schwartz

David Tannenbaum

Hulda Thorisdottir

Piercarlo Valdesolo

Scott Wiltermuth

Wendy Wood