Dr. Read is accepting students for the 2024 academic year through the Social Psychology area, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences area, and the Quantitative Methods and Computational Psychology area.


Dr. Read received his BA in 1974 from Princeton University and his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981. He was on a postdoc with Robert Abelson at Yale from 1981-1982, and then was a postdoc with Reid Hastie at Northwestern University from 1982-1984. He then joined the Psychology Department at the University of Southern California in 1984 and has been there ever since. He is currently head of the Social Psychology area and the Mendel B. Silberberg professor of Social Psychology.


Description of Research

Professor Read has six main areas of research.

  • His primary area of interest is in computational models of social reasoning and social behavior: neural network models of personality and motivation, legal and everyday decision making, person perception.
  • Computational and Neurobiological models of motivation, with a focus on the role of the ventral striatal dopaminergic reward processing system.
    • Human motivation
    • The structure and dynamics of human personality
    • Psychopathology: Depression and Anxiety
  • Coherence based, constraint satisfaction based models of decision making and impression formation.
  • Social perception, with a focus on the role of narrative representations and constraint satisfaction processes.
  • Coherence based models of attitudes and beliefs
  • The creation of realistic personality in computer based intelligent agents in virtual reality training systems.

Contact Information

Stephen J. Read
Mendel B. Silberberg Professor of Social Psychology
E-mail: read@usc.edu
Phone: (213) 740-2291
Office: SGM 821


B.A. Psychology, Princeton University, 5/1974
Ph.D. Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 8/1981

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University, Department of Psychology, 09/1982-08/1984
Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University, Department of Psychology, 09/1981-08/1982

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Mendel B. Silberberg Professor of Social Psychology, 2017-

Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California, 01/01/1998-

Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California, 01/01/1990-01/01/1998

Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Southen California, 01/01/1984-01/01/1990


Research Keywords

neural network models, computational modeling, social reasoning, narrative, social perception, motivation, personality, depression, dopamine, reward processing, virtual reality

Research Specialties

  • Neural Network Models of Social Reasoning and Personality.
  • Neural Network Models of Motivated Decision-making
  • Neurobiology of Decision-Making
  • Neurobiological bases of Substance Use and Depression
  • Knowledge structures in causal reasoning and decision making.
  • Narrative models of social explanation.
  • Structure and function of belief systems.

Recently Funded Research

Read, S. J. (PI), Lu, Z. L., Bechara, A., Miller, L. C., & Appleby, P. R. Neural Mechanisms of Risky Sexual Decision-Making in METH and non-METH Using MSM. NIDA. 07/01/2011-04/30/2016. $2,844, 615 over 5 years
Read, S. J., Miller, L. C., Monterosso, J. & O’Reilly. A Neurobiologically-based Neural Network Model of Risky Decision-making. NIH, NIGMS. 1/05/2015-12/31/2018. $1,804,304 over 4 years.
Orr, M.(PI), Lebiere, C., Moody, J., Pirolli, P., Read, S., Austerweil, J., Goodman, N. D., & Capra, M. Homo SocioNeticus: Scaling the cognitive foundations of online social behavior. DARPA. Approximately $3,500,000 over 4 years.
Pynadath, D. (PI), Tambe, M., Marsella, S., Miller, L. C., John, R., & Read, S. J. Graphical Encoding of First Principles for Agent-Based Social Simulation (GEFPABSS). DARPA.

Affiliations with Research Centers, Labs, and Other Institutions