Director »

Jessica L. Tracy, Ph.D.

Professor – Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia

Jess is a Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia and a Sauder Distinguished Scholar. [...]

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Jessica L. Tracy, Ph.D.

Lab Personnel »

Graduate Students »

Eric Mercadante

Graduate Student

I am interested in how people with different personality traits navigate social hierarchies and the consequences of status-striving for both the person doing it and others in their lives. I am especially interested in how status-striving affects our emo [...]

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Eric Mercadante

Gordon Heltzel

Graduate Student

My research focuses on the topics you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: morality (especially moral emotions), politics, and religion. I’m co-supervised by Dr. Jessica Tracy and Dr. Kristin Laurin. My research with Jess investigates th [...]

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Gordon Heltzel

Ian Hohm

Graduate Student

My research draws on an evolutionary psychology approach to investigate how deep-seated motivations influence behaviour in the context of particular threats and opportunities. For example, in one current project, I am applying error management theory to e [...]

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Ian Hohm

Undergraduate Students »

Directed Studies Students

Honours Students

Research Assistants

  • Ashwini Prabhakaran
  • Ayshe Ozlu
  • Clara Granados Borreguero
  • Els Patterson
  • Janhavi Pandit
  • Jenny Huang
  • Khushi Mehta
  • Lara Winkless
  • Maira Hosain
  • Mark Parinas
  • Melissa Thoen
  • Michaella Starratt
  • Polina Potiagalova
  • Rachel Karat
  • Rachel Zhou
  • Sonia Hulei
  • Yuejia Luo

Lab Alumni »

Aaron Weidman

Data Scientist

Aaron is an emotion and personality researcher focused largely on issues of measurement and construct validation of distinct emotions. He is currently a data scientist working in the finance industry. [...]

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Conor Steckler

Research Associate

Conor is a social-personality and developmental psychologist whose research interests focus on the evolutionary function of distinct emotions and how emotions relate to morality. He is currently a Research Associate at Google. [...]

Jeff Markusoff

Lab Manager

From 2008-2018, Jeff coordinated all research projects and research assistants involved in the Emotion and Self Lab. He spent his time in the lab ensuring that all projects were running efficiently and effectively, organizing the lab, writing Inquisit code, and conducting implicit emotion-status related research. Jeff is also a Registered Clinical Counsellor working with individuals, couples, and families in the Lower Mainland. [...]

Jeff Markusoff

Zak Witkower

Post-Doctoral Fellow

University of Toronto

I research how nonverbal behaviors (e.g., facial expressions and body movements) are used to express and interpret emotion, personality, and social status. Recently, I have been exploring whether distinct nonverbal behaviors are associated with distinct forms of social rank, along with the visual mechanisms observers utilize to form their perceptions of social rank (i.e., the Action Unit Imposter effect). I am also interested in whether the nonverbal communication of emotion and social rank is evolved or culturally constructed, and whether nonverbal expressions facilitate our ability to influence the behavior of others. [...]

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Zak Witkower

Alec Beall



Dr. Alec Beall received his Ph.D. in 2016 from the University of British Columbia where he was co-supervised by Jess and Mark Schaller. His research is informed by contemporary perspectives in evolutionary psychology and generally focuses on short-term mating, sexual attraction, parenting, and goal-oriented human behavior more broadly. With Jess, Alec has proposed a novel framework for understanding the evolutionary emergence of distinct emotions (e.g., happiness, romantic love, pride); specifically, he suggests that a host of distinct emotions have co-evolved with fundamental motivational systems to galvanize physiological, psychological, and behavioral responses geared towards solving recurrent adaptive problems encountered throughout hominid evolution. Alec and Jess have also investigated the role of emotion expressions on first-impression sexual attraction, the role of the color red on first-impression sexual attraction, and the role of women's menstrual cycle phase on clothing choice. His research is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He currently works at Amazon and more information about Alec can be found linked below. [...]

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Alec Beall

Matthew Gervais

Assistant Professor

Brunei University

My work investigates human emotions from an evolutionary anthropological perspective. I'm particularly interested in the psychological bases of derived (and possibly unique) forms of human social behavior, including sharing, punishment, and tolerance, as these scale out to social relationships and social network dynamics. I've published on laughter and humor, psychopathy, moral parochialism, and contempt. Methodologically I'm a pluralist, combining naturalistic lab experiments and mixed-methods ethnographic field work. I have a regional focus in the Pacific, where I've conducted research in Fiji since 2009. I am currently an Assistant Professor at Brunei University. [...]

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Matthew Gervais