About Steve

Dr. Read is accepting students for the 2022 academic year through both the Social Psychology area and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences area.


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


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


Description of Research

Professor Read has five 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. 
  • The creation of realistic personality in computer based intelligent agents in virtual reality training systems.
  • Coherence based, constraint satisfaction based models of decision making and impression formation.
  • The structure and dynamics of human personality.
  • The use of interactive media in changing risky sexual behavior.

Research Keywords

neural network models, social reasoning, personality, virtual reality, sexual behavior


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.
  • Use of Interactive Media to change risky social behaviors.
  • Structure and function of belief systems.


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


  • Stephen J. Read
  • Mendel B. Silberberg Professor of Social Psychology
  • Department of Psychology
  • 501 SGM
  • University of Southern California
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 90089-1061