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 linked to moral behavior, like disgust, as well as other complex social emotions, like humility and schadenfreude. 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.

Latest News »

Pharmacologically inhibiting physiological disgust (i.e., nausea) reduces the severity of moral judgments in the purity domain. Check out our paper, now in press at JPSP.

Check out our new paper in press at Evolution and Human Behavior for real-world evidence that status displays reduce, rather than increase, the amount of financial aid needy individuals receive. Supporting Trivers’ model of reciprocal altruism, generous folks bias their efforts toward those who convey greater need.

Jess’ book, Pride: The Secret to Success, is now available in paperback!

Zak and Jess’ paper reviewing the literature on bodily (or, extra-facial) nonverbal displays of emotion now in press at Emotion Review.

Upcoming Talks »

Jess Tracy, “The Form, Function, and Adaptive Nature of the Pride and Shame Nonverbal Displays

Keynote Address, SPSP Pre-conference on Nonverbal Behavior

February 7th, 2019

Portland, OR


Zak Witkower, It’s all in your head: Head position changes the perception of facial expressions of emotion

Nonverbal Behavior Pre-Conference, SPSP

Portland, OR

February 7, 2019

Zak Witkower, ”Two signals of rank: Distinct displays of dominance and prestige,” in the symposium, “New insights into the nonverbal communication of social rank” at the annual SPSP meeting

February 9, 2019

Portland, OR

Jess Tracy, “Hot sh*t or piece of sh*t: The directly opposing impact of pride displays on social judgments and decision-making,” in the symposium, “Nonverbal Expressions of Positive Emotion: New Advances and Social Functions,” SPSP Annual Meeting

February 10th (11 am-12:15)

Portland, OR

Books and Edited Volumes »

"Take Pride — now in paperback"

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"The Psychology of Social Status"

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"The Self-Conscious Emotions"

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