The USC Dornsife Mind and Society Center was established in August 2014. Our research addresses the interface of individual and society by investigating how people think about societal issues and how societal context shapes individuals’ thoughts and actions. Understanding this interface requires insight into the context sensitivity of basic cognitive and affective processes and their real-world implications. We utilize an array of approaches, including laboratory experiments, social surveys, field experiments, and controlled interventions.

On the theoretical side, all of our work shares a focus on how individual thinking, feeling, and doing is shaped by often subtle features of the immediate context and the broader societal and cultural environment in which this context is embedded. On the applied side, our work aims to leverage insight into these processes to improve individual and societal decision making.


Congratulations to our Graduate Students!

Congratulations to our grads: Dr. Pragya Arya, Dr. Ian Anderson, Dr. Alysia Burbidge, and Dr. Andrew Dawson!

Amabel Jeon and Drew Gorenz are the recipients of the 2024 Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Graduate Student Poster Award. The Graduate Student Poster Award recognizes exceptional poster presentations given by graduate student members of SPSP at the Annual Convention.

Kevin Choi received the Excellence in Scientific Writing 2024 from the Department of Psychology. Each area chooses one student from any year who has excelled in writing in the past year.

Ian Anderson received the USC Dornsife’s 2023 Communicator of the Year Award in the category of Ph.D. Student. This award honors scholars who contribute significant time and effort to meaningfully improve the public’s understanding of issues, influence policy, and/or raise the level of public discourse around research and scholarship conducted at Dornsife.

Congratulations to our RAs!

Congratulations to Riddhi Mandavia for her admission to the USC MS in Applied Psychology program (MAPP)! Riddhi was a SOAR Research Award recipient for her work with us on the Pathways-to-Success program.

Congratulations to Rachel Cassar for her admission to Stanford’s Teacher Education Preparation (STEP) Masters program.

Congratulations to Maria Bachmakova for her admission to Oxford’s MSc in Psychological Research. Maria completed her senior thesis with us and presented her work at the 2023 SPSP Conference.

Evans Alvarez will be attending the Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP) at Brown University. SR-EIP is a paid internship that prepares students for competitive PhD programs.

Ziyao Yang received the Spring 2023 Provost’s Research Fellowship for her honor’s thesis work with us! Ziyao’s work explores the relationship between honor culture and altruism.

Congratulations to our Professors!

Professor Schwarz received the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Attitudes and Social Influence Interest Group at the 2023 SPSP Conference. This is a prestigious award honoring psychologists for major theoretical and empirical contributions to the understanding of attitudes, persuasion, and social influence. He has also been named by Research.com in the 2023 “Top 200 Best Scientists” in the field of Psychology, worldwide.

Professor Oyserman has been elected to the German National Academy of Science, Leopoldina. The Leopoldina was founded in 1652 and is the oldest continuously working scholarly society in the world. While the majority of the members come from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, about one-third have always been from other countries. The Leopoldina the first pan-European scholarly society a few hundred years ago.

In the News

Drew Gorenz was interviewed on ABC Australia about his research on the humor of ChatGPT. Click here to hear the interview!

In Education Week: A recent article about Professor Oyserman’s identity-based motivation intervention, ‘Future Selves’ and Helping Others: What Motivates Students to Engage in School. Click here to read the article!

Recent alumnus Dr. Maddy Jalbert was interviewed for The Atlantic Galaxy Brain newsletter. Click here to read the article on why false information gets stuck in our brains and what this means for processing new COVID information.

A recent article from the New York Times features recent alumnus Dr. David Newman’s work on how conservatives report greater meaning in life. Click here to read the article!

Click here to access a fasincating interview our lab member Gülnaz Kiper did with the International Society for the Science of Existential Psychology (ISSEP)’s Ken Vail on identity, difficulty mindsets, and hope.

Lab Manager

Amabel Jeon

Co-Director, IBM Lab

Daphna Oyserman

Co-Director, SEEP Lab

Norbert Schwarz