Social Cognition and Personality Assessment Lab
In Plato’s Phaedrus there is a description of the self, struggling to control impulses and overcome desires. In this view our psyche is composed of three actors: two horses and a charioteer. The horse on the right side is the better, nobler one, who is a “lover of honor”. The horse on the left is uglier and wilder, “companion to wild boasts and indecency”. The two horses are opposite in breed and character, therefore making driving very difficult. The Charioteer task is to direct the chariot (the soul) in the proper direction, trying to stop the horses from going different ways.
About 2500 years later, researchers in the field of personality and social psychology talked about two simultaneous, but different ways of processing information: a deliberative way (which is based on logic and rationality), and an automatic - associative way (which is based on temporal contiguity / repetition / intensity / similarity between stimuli).
- Based on this dynamic we are interested in answering to questions like:
- Why do smokers who are aware of the negative consequences of smoking, persist in their habit?
- Why do lovers who are aware that taunting their partners is harmful for their relationship continue to behave in this direction?
- Why do people sometimes act in prejudiced ways even when they intend to be fair?
- What are the empirically supported interventions based on altering the automatic arm of processing that can decrease such negative behaviors?
- How reliable and valid are the tools designed to assess these implicit (automatic) processes?
Therefore, most of the research conducted in our lab is directed toward studying the implicitness (the unintended, the unconscious part of ourselves), but other directions such as assessing the explicit part of our personality is also encouraged.
In addressing these topics we rely on a variety of research methods found typically in social cognition, experimental psychopathology and personality studies. The overall framework of our approach is a pragmatic one, being rooted in the evidence based approach.