James Shah, Associate Professor
The recent decades have seen an increasing integration of two formerly disparate research traditions in psychology, that of
motivation and cognition. Nowhere has the benefit of this new
synergy been more evident than in the study of the nature and
process of goal pursuit. In defining a future state of affairs to
approach or avoid, goals serve as motivational points of
reference for the fulfillment of regulatory needs. But goals are
also knowledge structures and, as such, follow many of the
same principles of acquisition, activation, change, and
organization that have been articulated in the extensive research
on knowledge representation. My research examines goals from
both perspectives: It notes, for instance, the significance of
goals' regulatory function and accessibility for determining
emotional experience and attainment behavior as well as the
nature, determinants, and implications of goal structure. In
focusing on both the regulatory and epistemic nature of goal
pursuit, I have paid particularly close attention to the impact
of these different properties on subjective experience and
behavior. I have also applied this "synergistic" approach to an analysis of interpersonal phenomena, exploring how our interactions and experiences with other individuals and groups may often help us fulfill our own regulatory needs and to define our social reality. Indeed, my lab has found compelling evidence that how we feel about, and behave toward, other individuals and groups may be significantly affected by needs for accomplishment, security and cognitive closure.
In a general sense then, my research considers the independent and interactive effects of motivation and cognition and their implications for how we feel and act, both with respect to our own pursuits and to the world around us.
- Shah, J. Y., Brazy, P. B., & Higgins, E. T. (2004).
). Promoting us or preventing them: Regulatory focus and the nature of ingroup bias, 30, 433-446.
Courses (Fall 2015):
- Psy 104.01, Social psychology
- Social sciences 139, WF 08:30 AM-09:45 AM