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Aaron C. Weidman


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

Distinct emotions such as gratitude, anger, pride, and envy are tools for navigating life; for example, gratitude bonds people together and anger tells us we have been wronged. Making sense of how emotions shape our lives requires first understanding what it means to feel each emotion and how each emotion is similar or different. Yet, in a review I conducted early in my career, I found that in empirical studies emotions which are treated as distinct  entities are typically assessed with the same words across studies (i.e., the Jangle Fallacy; Weidman, Steckler, & Tracy, 2017).

I have since conducted work showing that precisely distinguishing between emotions via measurement can alter the conclusions we draw about them: I showed that material purchases provide more frequent momentary happiness over time (measured with experience-sampling), whereas experiential purchases provide greater afterglow happiness (measured with retrospective surveys; Weidman & Dunn, 2016, SPPS), challenging the recommendation that consumers wishing to maximize happiness should always buy experiences.

To address the issue of imprecise and overlapping measurement in distinct emotion science, I have endeavored to answer basic questions about the content, structure, and function of emotions such as gratitude, anger, envy, and humility: What does it mean to feel any given emotion (e.g., Weidman, Cheng, & Tracy, 2018)? What experiential components comprise each emotion (e.g., Lange, Weidman, & Crusius, 2018)? What task does each emotion help us accomplish (e.g., Weidman, Tracy, & Elliot, 2016)?

Building on this basic understanding of emotions, I have begun examining emotion regulation. In one project, I explore whether people use emotions as tools in daily life by intentionally trying to feel or express emotions in specific contexts in which those emotions would likely be useful. In another project, I explore how people regulate when asked to judge immoral behaviors of close others, a distressing context that pits our tendency to condemn harmful acts against our tendency to protect our own.

To study emotion, one must assess the emotions people feel. I have therefore conducted work aimed at leveraging technology to improve our ability to unobtrusively and automatically assess emotion to gain a direct pipeline into people’s in vivo feelings. In one project, a colleague and I have developed a method to unobtrusively assess weekly fluctuations in emotional pleasantness and arousal by using machine learning to analyze the linguistic content of Facebook status updates. In another project, I have used machine learning to explore whether it is possible to predict momentary feelings of happiness from the sound of people’s voice (Weidman, Sun, Vazire, Quoidbach, Ungar, & Dunn, in press).

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.


Weidman, A. C., Sun, J., Vazire, S., Quoidbach, J., Ungar, L. H., & Dunn, E. W. (in press). (Not) hearing happiness: Predicting fluctuations in happy mood from acoustic cues using machine learning. Emotion.

Tracy, J. L. & Weidman, A. C. (in press). Pride. To appear in A. Scarantino (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory. London, UK: Routledge University Press.

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.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Lange, J., Weidman, A. C., & Crusius, J. (2018). 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, 114, 572-598.

Weidman, A. C., Cheng, J. T., & Tracy, J. L. (2018). The psychological structure of humility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 114, 153-178.

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. & Tracy, J. L. (2017). Is humility a sentiment? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, E251. [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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