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 Blog Post »

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.

Watch the video of Jess’ talk, as well as talks by David Puts and Klaus Scherer, on Nonverbal Communication across species, in an Integrative Science Symposium at the International Convention for Psychological Science in Amsterdam this past March.

Jess, Dan Randles, and Conor Steckler’s review article on the nonverbal communication of emotions, now published open access in Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences.

Upcoming Talks »

Jess Tracy, “The nature of pride”

Invited Seminar, Institute for Personality and Social Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.

Berkeley, CA. October, 2015.

Aaron Weidman, “The benefits of following your pride: Authentic pride promotes achievement.” In the symposium, “The function of distinct emotions in everyday social situations,” at SPSP.

San Diego, CA. January 30th, 2016.

Edited Volumes »

"The Psychology of Social Status"

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"The Self-Conscious Emotions"

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