VIMLab Fall 2014. Back row: Ben Smith, Derek Harmon, Jesse Graham, Susanna Stone, Pete Meindl, Lucas Carden, David Newman, Eric Horowitz. Front row: Ariana Shives, Julia Loup, Kate Johnson, Virtual Erica Beall, Jen Labrecque.


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 Managers

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 attitudes. She hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in Social Psych research.


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.



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.


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.


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. 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. 


Working under the guidance of Dr. Antonio Damasio, Vanessa is currently completing her PhD in Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California. Vanessa finished her Master's in Neural and Behavioral Sciences at the International Max Planck Research Institute (MPI), Tuebingen, Germany, where she earned the first position and was named in the Dean's list for her exemplary academic performance. She completed her Bachelor of Arts (honors) in Psychology at the University of Delhi, India where she obtained the first rank in the University. Vanessa is studying the brain, mind, emotions and behavior. Across these factors, she explores the connections between the neural bases of social emotions and is interested in investigating the neural representation of morality. Her interests have been informed by experiences as a student and researcher in varied fields ranging from study of the brain's default network to neural basis of memory.


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

Lucy Doss
Lucy is in her third year of her undergraduate studies focusing on Psychology and Consumer Behavior. Her main interest is social psychology in relation to marketing and advertising for different ethnic demographics. Additionally, she is on USC Ski and Snowboard.

Thomas Hodgson
Thomas is a proud Oregonian majoring is Psychology and Philosophy. He is interested in the overlap between these two subjects and how their methods differ. Specifically, he is interested in Morals/Ethics, Epistemology, Social Psychology and Existentialism. Thomas would eventually like to work in mental health to help teens and young adults work through existential crises.


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.


Camille Saucier
ArianaCamille is pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Global Communications as well as a Progressive Master's Degree in Communication Management. She is interested in learning more about moral judgments, and how morality impacts decisions to engage in ecologically friendly behavior. She hopes to create marketing and public relations campaigns to persuade people to act sustainably.


Ariana Shives
Ariana is a Minnesotan studying psychology with a Spanish minor.  She is fascinated by psychology research, especially on happiness and positive psychology, and hopes to work with kids in the future.  She loves ice cream, running, and spending Sunday mornings with tea and a good book.


Carolyn Windler
Carolyn is 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

Nate Fast

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