Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences
B.S., Pennsylvania State University; M.S., Ph.D., University of Rochester
Professor of Psychology and Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences
Studies psychology of choice and desire with focus on decisions about money and mating; evolutionary approach to behavior.
My research areas broadly defined are in the evolution of human behavior and cognition and the influence of hormones on psychological processes. My particular interests are in the study of economic choices, sex differences in cognition, sexual attraction, and body image. In the past, I also published papers in psycholinguistics. My research on economic choice uses bargaining games to study the conditions that elicit fairness and generosity or competition over resources. I am also interested in the conditions affecting impulsiveness in making decisions about money. Other lines of research concern sexual attraction and body image. These projects investigate how body image affects preferences for body types of sexual and romantic partners and how women’s body satisfaction is shaped by both biology and culture. The explanations for these behaviors are sought in an understanding of how the ancestral environments of early humans shaped the psychology of choice and desire.
In the psychology department I teach courses on evolution and human behavior (both a lower-level lecture course and an upper-level research methods class), a seminar on cooperation and competition, and an introduction to the psychology of language. In the cognitive and linguistic sciences program, I teach the upper-level topics seminar required for all majors but open to interested students in all disciplines. This seminar focuses on a topic of current interest in the field and incorporates interdisciplinary work. I enjoy mentoring students so I also work with students on independent studies and employ students to work in my lab.
I am the director of the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences program which trains students in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the mind. Students in this major take a series of required core courses, which introduce them to techniques for studying language and cognition. The major also provides substantive training in one of the component disciplines (psychology, linguistics, computer science, or philosophy) through coursework within a concentration area chosen by the student. Many of the students in this major have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including education, law, research, and business.
When not working, I love to travel, hike, ride my bicycle, read, and go to museums and the theatre.