Trope Lab

The Expansive and Contractive Social Mind

Our lab uses a range of methodologies to investigate the interrelations among cognition, motivation, and self-regulation in the social context. The research focuses on two sets of issues:

Traversing Psychological Distance

How do people transcend the "me-here-and-now"? People are often narrowly focused on their immediate, egocentric, and in-group concerns. Our lab examines the mental and social mechanisms that enable individuals to expand their mental horizons and connect to psychologically distant people, places, and times. We also study the implications of expansive and contractive mental horizons for openness to social change, inclusiveness, and care for the environment.


When and how do people fail to do what they want while possessing the knowledge, skill, and opportunity that are required to do what they want? How do we—individuals or groups—(sometimes) manage to act in line with our overriding goals when faced with tempting alternatives? Our lab investigates the conscious and unconscious mechanisms that serve to resolve conflicts between people's local, short-term concerns and their global, long-term concerns.