Have you ever wondered why people behave like they do? What has led humans to think in certain ways, to care about some things and not others, to make decisions that sometimes seem irrational? In our lab, we explore how adaptive psychological mechanisms drive perception, decision-making, and behavior. As a result, our minds act and react often without great conscious awareness. That is, much of what we think about (or don’t think about), the decisions we make (or not), and the (dis)satisfaction we have with those decisions are not matters of deep deliberation. Instead, a fundamental set of evolved predispositions interacts with subtle features of our environments to shape our actions. In approaching behavior from this perspective, my research has concentrated on interpersonal cognition — how and why people think, prefer, choose, and act with or because of each other — although more recently, I have begun investigating how our understanding of the self is shaped as well.
My lab studies a wide range of processes, but typically with a focus on threat management. We are interested in how people respond to and cope with “big” threats, including those related to mortality, disease, resources, and social rejection. We also work on topics less connected to an evolutionary perspective in the domains of marketing, sensation, and social cognition.
- Close Relationships
- Emotion, Mood, Affect
- Evolution and Genetics
- Interpersonal Processes
- Judgment and Decision Making
- Motivation, Goal Setting
- Person Perception
- Social Cognition
- Ackerman, J. M., & Bargh, J. A. (2010). The purpose-driven life: Commentary on Kenrick et al. (2010). Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 323-326.
- Ackerman, J. M., Becker, D. V., Mortensen, C. R., Sasaki, T., Neuberg, S. L, & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). A pox on the mind: Disjunction of attention and memory in the processing of physical disfigurement. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 478-485.
- Ackerman, J. M., Goldstein, N. J., Shapiro, J. R., & Bargh, J. A. (2009). You wear me out: The vicarious depletion of self-control. Psychological Science, 20, 326-332.
- Ackerman, J. M., Griskevicius, V., & Li, N. P. (2011). Let’s get serious: Communicating commitment in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 1079-1094.
- Ackerman, J. M., & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). Cooperative courtship: Helping friends raise and raze relationship barriers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1285-1300.
- Ackerman, J. M., & Kenrick, D. T. (2008). The costs of benefits: Help-refusals highlight key trade-offs of social life. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 118-140.
- Ackerman, J. M., Kenrick, D. T., & Schaller, M. (2007). Is friendship akin to kinship? Evolution & Human Behavior, 28, 365-374.
- Ackerman, J. M., Maner, J. K., & Carpenter, S. M. (2016). Going all-in: Unfavorable sex ratios attenuate choice diversification. Psychological Science, 27, 799-809.
- Ackerman, J. M., Mortensen, C. R., & Tybur, J. M. (in press). Infectious disease and imperfections of self-image. Psychological Science.
- Ackerman, J. M., Nocera, C. C., & Bargh, J. A. (2010). Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgments and decisions. Science, 328, 1712-1715.
- Ackerman, J. M., Shapiro, J. R., Neuberg, S. L., Kenrick, D. T., Becker, D. V., Griskevicius, V., Maner, J. K., & Schaller, M. (2006). They all look the same to me (unless they're angry): From out-group homogeneity to out-group heterogeneity. Psychological Science, 17(10), 836-840.
- Bellezza, S., & Ackerman, J. M., Gino, F. (in press). “Be careless with that!” Availability of product upgrades increases cavalier behavior toward possessions. Journal of Marketing Research.
- Griskevicius, V., Ackerman, J. M., Cantú, S. M., Simpson, J. A., Thompson, M. E., Delton, A. W., Robertson, T. E., & Tybur, J. M. (2013). When the economy falters, do people spend or save? Responses to resource scarcity depend on childhood environments. Psychological Science, 24, 197-205.
- Griskevicius, V., Tybur, J. M., Ackerman, J. M., Delton, A. W., & Robertson, T. E. (2012). The financial consequences of too many men: Sex ratio effects on saving, borrowing, and spending. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 69-80.
- Huang, J. Y., Ackerman, J. M., & Bargh, J. A. (2013). Superman to the rescue: Simulating physical invulnerability attenuates exclusion-related interpersonal biases. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 349–354.
- Huang, J. Y., Ackerman, J. M., & Newman, G. E. (in press). Catching (up with) magical contagion: A review of contagion effects in consumer contexts. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.
- Huang, J. Y., Ackerman, J. M., & Sedlovskaya, A. (2017). (De)contaminating product preferences: A multi-method investigation into pathogen threat’s influence on used product preferences. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 70, 143-152.
- Huang, J. Y., Sedlovskaya, A., Ackerman, J. M., & Bargh, J. A. (2011). Immunizing against prejudice: Effects of disease protection on attitudes toward out-groups. Psychological Science, 22, 1550-1556.
- Mortensen, C. R., Becker, D. V., Ackerman, J. M., Neuberg, S. L., & Kenrick, D. T. (2010). Infection breeds reticence: The effects of disease salience on self-perceptions of personality and behavioral avoidance tendencies. Psychological Science, 21, 440-447.
- Shapiro, J. R., Ackerman, J. M., Neuberg, S. L., Maner, J. K., Becker, D. V., & Kenrick, D. T. (2009). Following in the wake of anger: When not discriminating is discriminating. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1356-1367.
- Consumer Behavior
- Evolution & Culture
- Evolutionary Social Psychology
- Social Psychology
350 Church St.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1043
- Phone: 7346479028