The Emotion & Self Lab

In the Emotion and Self Lab at the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, we study the evolutionary function, nonverbal expression, and psychological structure of emotions and self. Much of our research is focused on the place that self and emotions meet: the self-conscious emotions of pride, shame, embarrassment, and guilt.   But we also study more basic level emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, and happiness. We use a wide range of methods to study emotional processes, including behavioral observation and coding, social-cognitive techniques (e.g., reaction time assessment, eye-tracking), cross-cultural and cross-species comparisons, narrative assessment, and physiological (e.g., hormone) assessment; and we use experimental, cross-sectional, and longitudinal designs. In an effort to improve the study of self-conscious emotions, we have developed several measurement tools that are available to other researchers. These tools can be downloaded from this website. In all of our research, we tend to take a functionalist perspective, asking why questions about emotions and self, and seeking both ultimate and proximate answers.

Featured Project »

How are Emotion Expression Honest Signals?

Emotion expressions can be understood as a form of social communication between a sender and a receiver: a signal. [...]

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The Emergence of Status Hierarchies

Status differences are universal in all known human societies, and they partially determine patterns of resource allocation, conflict, mating, and group coordination. However, there’s little systematic research into questions of why and how hierarchies emerge. [...]

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Latest News »

New paper by Aaron Weidman, Joey Cheng, and Jess Tracy provides strong evidence that humility is comprised of two facets–one pro-social and “other-appreciating”, and the other anti-social and “self-abasing.” See the paper, now in press at JPSP, here.

New book forthcoming Sept 2016

New research from Joey Cheng, Jess Tracy, Simon Ho, and Joe Henrich shows that dynamic shifts in vocal pitch, naturally occurring in the early moments of a social interaction, influence emergent rank outcomes. Read the paper, now published at JEP:General, here.

Upcoming Talks »

Jess Tracy, “Take Pride”

Talks@Google, Seattle, WA.

September 29th, 2016

Find it on or on twitter @googletalks

Jess Tracy, Book Tour for Take Pride: Why the Deadliest Sin Holds the Secret to Human Success (all events open to the public)


Sept. 20, 2016, 7 pm: Politics & Prose, Washington DC

Sept. 21, 2016, 7pm: The Rubin Museum of Art, New York

Sept. 22, 2016, 3 pm: UC Berkeley (5101 Tolman Hall), Berkeley, CA

Sept. 29, 7 pm: Town Hall, Seattle, WA.


Edited Volumes »

"The Psychology of Social Status"

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"The Self-Conscious Emotions"

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