Graduate Students

Hanbyeol (Esther) Lee

Hanbyeol (Esther) is in her first year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from Yonsei University. Her research interests broadly include how various motivations and behaviors affect each other bidirectionally, and how the belief in the timeless self influences motivation. She also studies factors that contribute to well-being in romantic relationships. In her free time, Hanbyeol likes to spend time with her friends, play the piano, and watch a movie with some beer.Selected Works:Lee, H. E., Kim, J. J., Cheon, J. E., & Kim, Y. H. (2023). Multifaceted effects of promotion focus on marital outcomes under mate value discrepancy. Family Relations.Lee, H.E. (2023, February). The effect of disease avoidance motivation on the interpersonal distance perception. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference. Atlanta, GA.Kim, J.J., Lee, H.E., Yang, H.W., Cheon, J.E., Kim, Y-H. (2021). The mediating role of emotional suppression in the relationship between spouse’s neuroticism and marital well-being. Korean Journal of Family and Culture, 33(2), 89-123. doi:10.21478/family.33.2.202106.004

Nicole Koefler

Nicole is in her third year of the Ph.D. program in Social Psychology at the University at Buffalo and is the lab manager for the Self and Motivation Lab. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Theology & Ethics from the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. Nicole’s research interests include understanding how individuals successfully (and unsuccessfully) seek connection with others, and the ways in which people make sense of the world through their moral and religious convictions. In her leisure time, she enjoys perusing used-book stores, exploring Buffalo, and increasing her collection of house plants.

Selected Works:

Koefler, N., & Park, L. E. (2023, February). Threats to morality increase moral convictions and decrease prosocial behavior. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference. Atlanta, GA.

Park, L.E., Ward, D.E., Naragon-Gainey, K., Fujita, K., & Koefler, N. (2022). I’m still spending:  Financial contingency of self-worth predicts financial motivational conflict and compulsive buying. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 

Ya-Hui Chang

Ya-Hui is in her fifth 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 Works:

Huang, K-J., Chang, Y-H., & Landau, M. (2023). “Pandemic nostalgia: Reduced social contact predicts consumption of nostalgic music during the COVID-19 pandemic” Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Park, L.E., Lin, G-X., Chang, Y.-H., O’Brien, C., & Ward, D.E. (2022). Burning the candle at both ends: The role of financial contingency of self-worth and work-family conflict on job and parental well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 199, 1-6.

Chang, Y-H., & Park, L. (2022, July). Imagining shared experiences with human and non-human agents boosts interpersonal closeness. Virtual talk presented at the International Association for Relationship Research Conference.

Chang, Y.-H., & 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.

Leslie Mei

Leslie is a fourth year PhD student interested in narrative, empathy, and identity. They earned their B.A. in Psychology and English from Carleton College and their MA in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Their research interests primarily include how people engage with displays of suffering, both in relation to fictional characters and to real life cross-cultural interactions. In their free time, they play DnD, study Victorian fashion, and try to craft the perfect latte.

Selected Works:

Mei, L. (2023, April). Do cultural norms for suffering displays predict judgments of character? Midwestern Psychology Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

Mei, L. (2019, May). Exploring a framework of personality, identity, and time perspective. MAPSS Graduate Student Academic Conference, Chicago, IL. Collaborated and presented o

Valerie Vessels

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

Selected Works:

Park, L. E., Naidu, E., Lemay, E., Canning, E., Ward, D. E., Panlilio, Z., & Vessels, V. (in press). Social evaluative threat across individual, relational, and collective selves. In B. Gawronski (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.

Park, L. E., Italiano, A., & Vessels, V. (2023). Managers’ frequent displays of busyness predict employees’ job disengagement, burnout, and turnover intentions. International Journal of Social Psychology, 1-48.