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Aaron C. Weidman


Aaron is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Michigan.

What does it mean when a person says she is feeling “gratitude”? Does it mean something different if she says she is feeling “admiration”? Or are admiration and gratitude actually two different words used to describe similar emotional experiences? Most critically, how does identifying the distinction or overlap between gratitude and admiration help us understand the causes and social consequences of these emotions? This series of questions captures my approach to research. I begin by asking what constructs are, and seek to pin down definitions of and boundaries between key psychological phenomena. I then leverage this definitional work to gain insights into the importance of these phenomena in daily life.

My interest in definitional questions about positive emotions’ content, structure, and measurement began with a comprehensive review of the way in which affective scientists currently measure emotion via self-report. My colleagues and I identified several problematic practices that had the potential to hinder the discovery of emotions’ functions in important life domains (Weidman, Steckler, & Tracy, 2017).

I have followed up this work by examining the content and structure of positive emotions. At a macro level, I am currently working on a project in which the goal is to map the structure of state and trait positive emotions, and develop scales to measure each positive emotion studied in the literature (Weidman & Tracy, 2016; 2017). At a micro level, I have uncovered the structure and content of the emotion humility, providing the first demonstration that humility actually consists of two distinct dimensions with different functions: appreciative humility and self-abasing humility (Weidman, Cheng, & Tracy, in press; Weidman & Tracy, in press). Along with collaborators at the University of Cologne, I also helped develop a novel, data-driven theoretical model of envy (Lange, Weidman, & Cruisius, in press).

In addition to pinning down definitions of and boundaries between positive emotions, I have explored the social functions of emotions. For example, I have conducted longitudinal research elucidating the process by which authentic pride promotes concrete achievement outcomes (Weidman, Tracy, & Elliot, 2016), and I have examined the effect of negative emotional states such as depression and anxiety on academic achievement among adolescents (Weidman, Augustine, Murayama, & Elliot, 2015).

More recently, I have conducted some work contributing to our field’s growing emphasis on capturing psychological experience in vivo, or life as lived. For example, in the domain of spending and happiness, I provided the first demonstration that buying material things bring people momentary happiness, which stands in contrast to the long-held notion that life experiences are a consistently superior source of happiness (Weidman & Dunn, 2016). I have also used various methods for assessing momentary emotion, including automated linguistic coding of emotional content from online dating profiles (Weidman, Cheng, Chisholm, & Tracy, 2015). I am currently developing a method to predict momentary happiness without requiring self-report questionnaires, using machine learning and audio recordings of speech.

I was supported by a Killam Doctoral Scholarship and a Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship from the University of British Columbia. I also worked as a statistics consultant for the UBC Psychology Department.

I completed my B.A. in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis while working under the supervision of Dr. Randy Larsen and in Dr. Simine Vazire’s Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab. I am originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Lange, J., Weidman, A. C., & Crusius, J. (in press). The painful duality of envy: Evidence for an integrative theory and a meta-analysis on the relation of envy and schadenfreude. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Tracy, J. L. & Weidman, A. C. (in press). Self-conscious emotions and personality. To appear in R. W. Robins & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of Personality (4th ed.).

Weidman, A. C., Cheng, J. T., & Tracy, J. L. (in press). The psychological structure of humility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Weidman, A. C. & Tracy, J. L. (in press). Is humility a sentiment? Behavioral and Brain Sciences. [commentary]

Weidman, A. C., Steckler, C. M., & Tracy, J. L. (2017). The jingle and jangle of emotion assessment: Imprecise measurement, casual scale usage, and conceptual fuzziness in emotion research. Emotion, 17, 267-295.

Weidman, A. C. & Tracy, J. L. (2017). How to study the structure of emotions? A welcome call to action and a pragmatic proposal. Psychological Inquiry, 28, 63-67. [commentary]

Weidman, A. C. & Dunn, E. W. (2016). The unsung benefits of material things: Material purchases provide more frequent momentary happiness than experiential purchases. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 390-399.

Weidman, A. C., Tracy, J. L., & Elliot, A. J. (2016). The benefits of following your pride: Authentic pride promotes achievement. Journal of Personality, 5, 607-622.

Whillans, A. V., Weidman, A. C., & Dunn, E. W (2016). Valuing time over money is associated with greater happiness. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 213-222.

Dunn, E. W. & Weidman, A. C. (2015). Building a science of spending: Lessons from the past and directions for the future. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25, 172-178.

Weidman, A. C., Augustine, A. A., Murayama, K., & Elliot, A. J. (2015). Depression and anxiety symptomatology and academic achievement: Bi-directional and co-developmental relations in adolescence. Journal of Research in Personality, 58, 106-114.

Weidman, A. C., Cheng, J. T., Chisholm, C., & Tracy, J. L. (2015). Is she the one? Personality judgments from online personal advertisements. Personal Relationships, 22, 591-603.

Weidman, A. C. & Levinson, C. A. (2015). I’m still socially anxious online: Offline relationship impairment characterizing social anxiety manifests and is accurately perceived in online social networking profiles. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 12-19.

Cheng, J. T., Weidman, A. C., & Tracy, J. L. (2014). The assessment of social status: A review of measures and experimental manipulations. In J. T. Cheng, J. L. Tracy, and C. Anderson (Eds.), The psychology of social status (pp. 347-362). New York, NY: Springer.

Tracy, J. L., Weidman, A. C., Cheng, J. C., & Martens, J. P. (2014). Pride: The fundamental emotion of success, power, and status. In M. Tugade, M. Shiota, & L. Kirby (Eds.), Handbook of positive emotions (pp. 294-310). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Weidman, A. C. & Tracy, J. L. (2013). Saleem, Shiva, and status: Authentic and hubristic pride personified in Midnight’s Children. Interdisciplinary Humanities, 30, 5-29.

Weidman, A. C., Fernandez, K. C., Levinson, C. A., Augustine, A. A., Larsen, R. J., & Rodebaugh, T. L. (2012). Compensatory internet use among individuals higher in social anxiety and its implications for well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 191-195.

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