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 or copied and pasted from this website. In all of our research, we tend to take a strongly functionalist perspective, asking why questions about emotions and self, and seeking both ultimate and proximate answers.

Featured Projects »

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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Origins and Functions of the Nonverbal Pride and Shame Expressions

This line of research examines the evolutionary origins and functions of the pride and shame expressions. [...]

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Featured Recruitment »

Undergraduate Research Participants

If you are a UBC student and would like to participate in a study currently being conducted in the Emotion and Self Lab, please go to the Subject Pool website and sign up. Our studies are conducted on the second and third floors of the Kenny Building at UBC (2136 West Mall), or on-line. We greatly appreciate your participation! If you want to know more about the purpose or findings of a study you participated in, send an email to with the name of the study.

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Latest News »

Now in press at Journal of Personality: Aaron Weidman, Jess Tracy, and Andy Elliott’s longitudinal research showing that authentic pride motivates achievement-oriented behavioral change and, as a result, actual improvements in exam performance.

New research by Alec Beall and Jess Tracy shows that women are more likely to dress in red when they are at peak fertility. Read the paper, now published at Psych ScienceRead the Online Supplement here.


Also, now published in PLOS ONE, our follow-up studies demonstrating an important moderator of the ovulation-red/pink dress effect.

See also our blog post reporting new analyses across all samples collected thus far, and a new post demonstrating how we have responded to questions raised about these findings as per Uri Simonsohn’s guidelines.


Finally, for those closely following this issue, see here for Jess’ response to Uli Schimmack’s recent blog post.

Special Series in Clinical Psychological Science on Emotions and Psychopathology, edited by Jess, now available online, featuring articles by leaders in affective and clinical science– James Gross, Jutta Joorman, Ann Kring, David Watson, Jaak Panksepp, and Greg Siegel (and an introductory article by Jess, David Klonsky, and Greg Hajcak Proudfit).

Upcoming Talks »

Dan Randles, “Escaping shame: Shame displays predict problems with drug and alcohol abuse in healthy and addicted populations.”

Association for Psychological Science Annual Conference

New York, NY. May, 2014.

Conor Steckler, “The financial cost of displaying pride: Expansive posture predicts reduced altruistic donations.”

Association for Psychological Science Annual Conference

New York, NY. May, 2014.

Edited Volumes »

"The Psychology of Social Status"

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"The Self-Conscious Emotions"

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