TEAM

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Dolores Albarracin, Ph.D.

Alexandra Heyman Nash University Professor Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor
CV | dalba@upenn.edu

Dolores Albarracín studies the impact of communication and persuasion on human behavior and the formation of beliefs, attitudes, and goals, particularly those that are socially beneficial. In addition to an interest in basic attitudinal processes, she is interested in finding ways of intervening to promote positive social interactions and public policies.

LAB RESEARCHERS

Sally Chan, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor
sallycmp@upenn.edu

Sally Chan has a background in information systems and received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Hong Kong in 2014. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship in the Cambridge Prosociality and Well-Being Lab in the UK. Sally has joined the Social Action Lab in the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since late 2015. Her research seeks to enhance both mental and physical well-being for a better quality of life. She was involved in projects examining the self-regulatory processes on well-being in the online (computer-mediated) and offline (face-to-face) social milieu. Sally’s current projects focus on incorporating the data science approach and machine learning algorithms to examine the influences of the person-in-context on well-being.

Bita Fayaz Farkhad, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor
bitaf@upenn.edu

Bita Farkhad completed her Ph.D. in Economics from Lehigh University in 2019. She is an applied microeconomist with interests in health and public policy.  Her research studies how public programs and policies affect individuals’ health and behavior. At present, her research primarily focuses on examining the impact of the Affordable Care Act on early-stage HIV diagnosis and access to HIV preventive care and the role of harm reduction policies such as syringe exchange programs on substance use.

POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHERS

Xi (Cici) Liu, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate (remote)
xi.liu@asc.upenn.edu

Cici joined the lab in Spring 2023 and is currently working on two lines of research under the supervision of Dr. Albarracín. The first line of research involves using survey methods to examine drug abuse issues and community coherence in US Appalachian rural communities. The second line of research focuses on the generation, dissemination, and consumption of misinformation online. Cici utilizes a combination of conventional statistical methods and machine learning algorithms to uncover effective interventions for misinformation and improve trust within communities. Cici holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where her research centered on the influence of culture on psychological processes. Specifically, she investigated how linguistic features that may lack concrete meaning influence speakers’ mental representation and evaluation of described objects.

Xi Shen, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
xi.shen@asc.upenn.edu

Xi Shen studies the social learning processes involved in forming and changing impressions, evaluations, and moral judgments, with an emphasis on the role of implicit cognition. Shen received her Ph.D. in social and personality psychology from Cornell University in 2021. Shen’s work has examined the role of intuitive social cues, such as facial appearances, group memberships, and emotional responses, in shaping people’s impressions of others. She also examines the possibility of changing people’s minds by exploring the type of effective information. She has been especially interested in implicit cognitions involved in these social learning processes, their processing characteristics, and their role in influencing social behaviors. She also studies the social cognitive processes involved in goal pursuit.

Riana M. Brown, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
riana.brown@appc.upenn.edu

Riana M. Brown is a Joan Bossert Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), where she works with Dr. Dolores Albarracín, the Alexandra Heyman Nash University Professor and director of APPC’s Communication Science Division. Riana received her Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology at New York University, working with Dr. Maureen Craig. Riana completed her M.S. in Social Psychology Research at the Vrije University Amsterdam, which she attended as a Fulbright Fellow, after receiving her B.S. in Psychology and International Studies from the University of Miami. Her research broadly focuses on how people respond to evidence of social inequality, particularly given the intersectional nature of social identity. She is interested in understanding ways to address and mitigate social inequalities and injustices and hopes her work can shed light on how to create greater equity and justice. When she is not discussing or researching social inequality, she can be found biking around, drinking coffee, rock climbing, or practicing handstands in the park.

Javier Granados Samayoa, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
javier.granadossamayoa@appc.upenn.edu

Javier Granados Samayoa, the Vartan Gregorian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center, earned his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from The Ohio State University. Javier has applied his interest in attitudes and social cognition to the development of several lines of research. In one line of work, he has examined the role of individual differences in attitude generalization tendencies — whether people’s positive or negative attitudes generalize more strongly — in shaping behavior as people pursue their goals. This research has led to the development of a theoretical model of self-regulation in which goal-relevant assessments afforded by the situation (e.g., “am I prepared?”) interact with people’s attitude generalization tendencies to shape judgments about goal-directed behavior. In addition, Javier has explored the consequences of believing specific conspiracy theories (e.g., conspiracy theories about COVID-19). For instance, he finds that believing Covid-19 conspiracy theories predicts increases in conspiracist ideation — the general tendency to believe conspiracy theories — over time. That is, endorsing specific conspiracy theories appears to pave the way for greater receptiveness to a variety of different conspiracy theory beliefs down the road.

Stephanie DeMora, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
stephanie.demora@appc.upenn.edu

Stephanie L. DeMora is the Arlin M. and Neysa Adams Postdoctoral Fellow in the Annenberg Center for Advanced Study in Communication at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She studies mass political behavior and identities such as gender, race, and ethnicity. Her research is published in top journals, including the British Journal of Political Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among others. DeMora earned her bachelor’s in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies and master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Arkansas. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Riverside.

Timothy Hyde, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
thyde@upenn.edu

Timothy Hyde is the Gloria T. and Melvin J. (“Jack”) Chisum Postdoctoral Fellow in the Annenberg Center for Advanced Study in Communication at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and in the university’s Department of Economics. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2022 with a Ph.D. in Economics. His research is centered on beliefs about low-probability, high-impact (LPHI) events like hurricanes and floods: how they are formed, how they evolve over time, and what can motivate changes in protective behavior. At the policy center, Tim is focusing on how attitudes about climate change are shaped by personal exposure to extreme weather events.

Alon Kraitzman, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow
alon.kraitzman@appc.upenn.edu

Alon P. Kraitzman is the Howard Deshong Postdoctoral Fellow in the Annenberg Center for Advanced Study in Communication at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania. He studies how citizens, both in democratic and non-democratic countries, assess the quality of political leadership and ensure that their government is held accountable for its domestic and foreign policies. His research has been published in Democratization, Political Behavior, PS: Political Science & Politics, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. Kraitzman earned his bachelor’s in Political Science and Communication in 2007, and master’s degree in Political Science in 2010, from Tel Aviv University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science (specializing in Comparative Politics and American Politics) from Michigan State University in 2018. He was a visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Political Science from 2018-2021, and a visiting scholar at the Australian National University in the School of Politics and International Relations from 2020-2023.

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Janet Lopez

Graduate Student
janetlo@sas.upenn.edu

Janet graduated in 2021 with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in English from Nova Southeastern University. After graduating, she became a research coordinator with Dr. Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania. In this role, she led the development and piloting of a course designed to equip high school students with metacognitive knowledge and structured experiences to apply psychological science to their lives. In 2022, Janet joined the Social Action Lab and began her doctoral studies in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Dr. Dolores Albarracín. She is interested in researching motivation, goal-setting, and how social and relational factors impact behavior change.

Angela Zhang

Graduate Student
angelalz@sas.upenn.edu

Angela graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 with a B.S. in psychology and a second major in biology. As an undergraduate research assistant, she aided in studies of memory phenomena, such as the attentional boost effect and the testing effect. Following graduation, she joined the Developmental and Motivation Research Lab at the University of Pittsburgh, where she planned and coordinated a longitudinal project examining adolescents’ motivation and engagement in math and science classes. Her current research interests lie in studying motivation and self-regulation in the context of health behavior and translating this research into interventions that promote health behavior change.

Yubo Zhou

Graduate Student
yubozhou@sas.upenn.edu

Yubo received his B.S. in Psychological & Brain Sciences and B.A. in Philosophy with minors in Applied Psychology, Educational Studies, and History at UC Santa Barbara. After graduation, he joined Dr. Hongbo Yu’s Emotion Science Lab as a lab coordinator. His previous research mainly focused on biculturals’ ingroup identification and cultural differences in risk perception and subsequent decision-making with Drs. Brenda Major and Heejung Kim. Yubo has joined the Social Action Lab and started his Ph.D. studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 under the supervision of Dr. Dolores Albarracín. He is primarily interested in investigating the cognitive, motivational, and behavioral underpinnings of action and inaction.

Vishwanath Emani Venkata Subramaniyam

Graduate Student
vishevs@sas.upenn.edu

Being a self-confessed geek who has spent a lot of time in online communities, he is deeply interested in understanding the characteristics of these communities and the platforms they exist on that facilitate the sharing and correction of information. As a doctoral student at Annenberg, he aims to develop techniques that take advantage of the large amounts of data produced by online platforms to better understand information and misinformation diffusion online.

Prior to joining Annenberg, E.V.S graduated with a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School. He also has experience working in private sector data science. He hopes to apply the econometric and computational skills gained from these experiences to his research at Annenberg.

LAB STAFF

Christopher Quasti

Lab Manager/Senior Research Coordinator
Christopher.Quasti@asc.upenn.edu

Chris joined The Social Action Lab in 2021 and is interested in developing interventions to promote mental and physical health for those impacted by the opioid epidemic. Before joining the Social Action Lab, Chris completed his Master of Science degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from The London School of Economics and his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Temple University. Chris is currently a Master of Bioethics candidate in the Perelman School of Medicine where he focuses his research on psychedelic medicine and ethical issues in behavioral health.

Lidia Palmese

Research Coordinator
lidiapal@upenn.edu

Lidia graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a B.S in Cognitive Science. After graduation she completed a service year through the Americorps VISTA program within Philadelphia’s Department Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services. Lidia has joined the Social Action Lab as a Research Coordinator. She intends to further her education by pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology, concentrating her research in the etiology of eating disorders and understanding why certain populations are at an increased risk.

Devlin O’Keefe

Research Coordinator
devlinok@upenn.edu

Devlin (he/him) attended Oberlin College and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and environmental studies. Before beginning at the Social Action Lab, he studied demographic differences in climate change threat perception and the ecopsychology of exposure to the night sky. Devlin intends to earn his Ph.D. in social psychology and is interested in studying methods for communicating threat and their impacts on behavior.

Melody Leung

Research Coordinator (remote)
mleung@upenn.edu

Melody received her B.S. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2022. As an undergraduate research assistant, she participated in studies about higher-education in prison (Dr. Logan Middleton), mass messaging campaigns for sexual violence prevention (ARC Lab), and the role of action/inaction on various aspects of health (Social Action Lab). She’s excited to continue exploring her research interests on interdisciplinary approaches towards behavior change and applying it towards prevention/intervention programs for at-risk populations.

UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

Dylan Norton

Undergraduate Student, University of Pennsylvania

Norton, currently a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, is planning on majoring in Health and Societies with a concentration in Public Health along with a minor in Psychology. He is interested in studying the overlap between these two fields. Specifically, he would like to research how social psychology can be utilized to help understand how different communities respond to health communication as well as how disparities in public health and access to medical care can be addressed.

Madison Goodwin

Undergraduate Student, University of Pennsylvania

Madison is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently studying Health and Societies. She is interested in research that explores how social media can be used as a tool to disseminate health information and help create positive health interventions. Additionally, she would like to explore how COVID-19 has exacerbated accessibility to health care and harm reduction services within minority communities.

Michael Goerlitz

Undergraduate Student, University of Pennsylvania

Currently a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael is studying history with a minor in computer science. He is interested in health communication and social media interventions, specifically in medically underserved communities. Michael is also interested in learning more about social attitudes towards vaccination, HIV prevention, and substance abuse as caused by misinformation and media campaigns.

Mari Miyahara
Undergraduate Student, University of Pennsylvania

Mari is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying Philosophy and Computer Science. Mari is interested in the decision-making process and how social norms are created. More specifically, how public health can be  improved by analyzing people’s behavior. Currently, she is working on a project examining the effect of implementation of policies in preventing HIV.

Kristine Tan

Undergraduate Student, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Kristine is a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying psychology with a minor in business and leadership studies. She is interested in social psych and IO psych. Her previous field research includes public mental health services for socially disadvantaged groups in China. She wants to study how to address resource disparity and limitations to help more people. Additionally, Kristine would like to explore work incentives and motivations to boost work efficiency and job satisfaction.

Yun Zhang

Undergraduate Student, University of California, Santa Barbara

Yun is currently a first-year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, majoring in Psychology and Brain Science. Yun is interested in industrial and business psychology. Yun wants to utilize psychological methods to improve people’s work efficiency and enhance their communication skills with their colleagues. Yun has had many relevant background activities in high school, like giving a webinar online to talk about public and mental health and inventing a technical sandbag to help people relieve their pressure. Yun hopes to use what she has learned and her passion to better solve issues between social media and public health.