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James Shah, Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

James Shah
Contact Info:
Office Location:  322 Reuben-Cooke Building, Durham, NC 27710
Office Phone:  (919) 660-5723
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:  

Teaching (Spring 2023):

  • Psy 324s.01, Motivation science in soc psy Synopsis
    Reuben-coo 319, Th 03:30 PM-06:00 PM
  • Psy 625s.01, Motives/goals/soc beh Synopsis
    Reuben-coo 319, F 08:30 AM-11:00 AM

Ph.D.Columbia University1996
M.A.Columbia University1992
B.A.University of Pennsylvania1990

Social Psychology
Research Interests:

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.

Areas of Interest:

Social Cognition

Representative Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. Shah, JY (2005). The automatic pursuit and management of goals. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(1), 10-13. [doi]  [abs]
  2. 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.
  3. Shah, J (2003). The motivational looking glass: how significant others implicitly affect goal appraisals.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(3), 424-439. [doi]  [abs]
  4. Shah, J (2003). Automatic for the people: how representations of significant others implicitly affect goal pursuit.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 661-681. [doi]  [abs]
  5. Shah, JY; Kruglanski, AW (2003). When opportunity knocks: bottom-up priming of goals by means and its effects on self-regulation.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(6), 1109-1122. [doi]  [abs]
  6. Shah, JY; Friedman, R; Kruglanski, AW (2002). Forgetting all else: on the antecedents and consequences of goal shielding.. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1261-1280. [doi]  [abs]

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