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Aaron C. Weidman

Ph.D. Candidate

Aaron studies positive emotions from a functionalist perspective: What makes us feel proud, happy, or humble, and what–in an ultimate sense–is the adaptive consequence of experiencing these emotions? In answering these questions, he focuses on basic issues of what positive emotions are, namely identifying the structure and content of positive emotions, and the optimal way to measure these states.

Aaron’s work on the function of positive emotions has focused primarily on the achievement domain. For example, he has conducted longitudinal research elucidating the process by which authentic pride promotes concrete achievement outcomes (Weidman, Tracy, & Elliot, 2016). He has also examined the effect of negative emotional states such as depression and anxiety on academic achievement among adolescents (Weidman, Augustine, Murayama, & Elliot, 2015).

Aaron’s interest in basic questions about positive emotions’ content, structure, and measurement began with a comprehensive review of the way in which the field of affective science currently measures emotion. This review identified several problematic practices that had the potential to hinder the discovery of emotions’ functions in important life domains (Weidman, Steckler, & Tracy, in press).

Aaron has followed up this work with several projects examining the content and structure of positive emotions, and developing measures of these states. At a macro level, he has conducted work examining the content of and interrelationships among all positive emotions studied in the literature, and developing scales to measure each of these states (Weidman & Tracy, 2016, March). At a micro level, he has 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). He is following up this work by examining the higher-order dimensions that characterize positive emotion experience.

Finally, Aaron has conducted research showing the importance of capturing emotions in the moment. For example, in the domain of spending and happiness, he has provided the first demonstration that buying material things bring people momentary happiness, which is in contrast to the long-held notion that life experiences are a consistently superior source of happiness (Weidman & Dunn, 2016). He has also used various methods for assessing momentary emotion, including automated linguistic coding of emotional content from online dating profiles (Weidman, Cheng, Chisholm, & Tracy, 2015). He is currently developing a way to measure happiness without requiring self-report questionnaires, using machine learning and audio recordings of speech.

Aaron is supported by a Killam Doctoral Scholarship and a Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship from the University of British Columbia. He also works as a statistics consultant for the UBC Psychology Department.

Aaron completed his 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. Aaron is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Publications:

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

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

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. & 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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