Lab Manager

Valerie Vessels

Valerie is the lab manager for the Self and Motivation Lab. She received her B.S. in Psychobiology and B.A. in Gender Studies from UCLA, and her M.A. in Psychological Research from California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include intergroup relations, aggression, and collective action. In her free time, she enjoys baking new recipes, listening to true crime podcasts, and going to amusement parks. 

Graduate Students

Nicole Koefler

Nicole is in her first year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Theology & Ethics from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. Nicole is broadly interested in topics surrounding the psychology of religion, especially as related to our understanding of personhood and one’s self-concept. In her leisure time, she enjoys engaging in meaningful conversations, reading classic and modern texts, and adding new music to her (many) playlists.

Abbie Hessler

Abbie is a second year student in the masters program in psychology working with Dr. Lora Park. In addition to being a research assistant in the Self and Motivation Lab, she works in Dr. Mark Seery’s Social Psychophysiology Lab. Abbie’s research interests include contingencies of self-worth and aspects of the self, self-threat, and motivation. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, horror films, and exploring Buffalo.

Yahui Chang

Yahui is in her third year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She received her B.A. in Public Finance from National Chengchi University and M.A.s in Psychology from NYU and in Marketing from the University of Kansas.  Her research interests include understanding aspects of shared experiences, the self, and meaning in life.

Selected Presentations:

Chang, Y., & Park, L.E. (2021, February). Imagining shared experiences boosts interpersonal closeness and well-being. Virtual data blitz talk at Society for Personality and Social Psychology Preconference on “Shared Reality and Authenticity.”

Esha Naidu

Esha is in her fourth year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She received her B.S. with honors in Psychology and a minor in Religious Studies from Arizona State University. Her research interests broadly concern the influence of culture and feelings of connectedness on decision-making and other psychological processes. In her free time, Esha likes trying out new recipes, playing retro video games, and painting.

Selected Publications and Presentations

Gabriel, S., Naidu E. S., Paravati E., Morrison C. D., Gainey, K., (in press). Creating the sacred from the profane: Collective effervesence and everyday activities. Journal of Positive Psychology.

Naidu, E. S., Patock-Peckham, J. A., Ruof, A., Bauman, D. C., Banovich, P., Frohe, T., & Leeman, R. F. (2019). Narcissism and devaluing others: An exploration of impaired control over drinking as a mediating mechanism of alcohol-related problems. Personality and Individual Differences, 139, 39-45. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2018.10.039

Kwan, V. S. Y., Naidu, E. S., & Bixter, M. T. (2019). Controlling environmental crisis appraisal through knowledge, vividness, and timing. Journal of Environmental Psychology, doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2019.01.003

Naidu, E.S., Gabriel, S., Paravati, E. (2019, April). Movies Matter: Two Paths to Collective Effervescence. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA), Chicago, Illinois.

Cassie O’Brien

Cassie is in her second year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She received her B.S. from Allegheny College, with a major in Psychology and minors in Political Science and Communications. Cassie’s research interests include understanding how different social identities and identity threats can influence the resilience and motivations of individuals. She is interested in how these questions can be applied to specific social issues and domains, such as stigma and prejudice. In her free time, Cassie enjoys hiking, drinking too much coffee, and listening to true crime podcasts.

Zaviera Panlilio

Zaviera is in her last year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She received her Masters from San Francisco State University where she majored in Social Psychology. Zaviera’s research interests include understanding how motivation and identity impact decision making processes and behaviors in a variety of domains including social justice, health goals, and academic engagement. Zaviera enjoys anything to do with animals including her lovebird Burbie and using her creativity and comfort speaking in large groups to share research with academic and non-academic audiences. 

Selected Publications and Presentations:

Saltsman, T.L., Seery, M.D., Ward, D.E., Radsvick, T., Panlilio, Z., Lamarche, V.M., & Kondrak, C.L. (2020). Facing the facets: No association between dispositional mindfulness facets and positive momentary stress responses during active stressors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 
Cho, H., Wei, D., Reyes, Z., Geisler, M.W., & Morsella, E. (2018). The reflexive imagery task: An experimental paradigm for neuroimaging. AIMS Neuroscience, 5, 97-115.
Morsella, E., & Reyes, Z. (2016). The difference between conscious and unconscious brain circuits. Animal Sentience

Ji Xia

Ji is in his last year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo under Dr. Ken DeMarree. Ji is originally from China, and received his B.S. (in 2013) and M.S. (in 2016) degree from the University of Iowa. Ji’s research focuses on how motivational forces (goals, evolutionary needs, etc.) shapes people’s cognitions and behaviors. Primarily, he’s interested in motivational factors that hold the potential to influence how people react to persuasive information, how they perceive their own reactions (metacognition), and how these processes subsequently affect the ways people form/change their attitudes.

Selected Publications and Presentations:

Park, L. E., Fujita, K., Naragon-Gainey, K., Radsvick, T., Jung, H., Xia, J., Ward, D. E., Paravati, E., Weng, J., Italiano, A., & Valvo, A., (in press). Happiness – to enjoy now or later? Consequences of delaying happiness and living in the moment beliefs. Emotion.

DeMarree, K. G., Petty, R. E., Briñol, P., & Xia, J. (in press). Documenting Individual Differences in the Propensity to Hold Attitudes with Certainty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Xia J., Clark, J. K. (2016 September). Wishful Metacognition: Thought Liking as a Determinant of Attitudes. Presentation at the Social Area Brown Bag, SUNY University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

Xia, J., Murray, S. L. (2018 April). Motivational Tradeoff: Disease Threat vs. Social Exclusion. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Xia, J., Pavarati, E., DeMarree, K. G., Green, M. C., Gabriel, S. (2019 February). Real and Fake Attitudinal Disconsensus: Implications for Attitude Strength and Advocacy. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, Portland, OR.