Basic and Applied Cognitive and Social Psychology “ME” Lab

Carrie DiMatteo, PhD

Dr. DiMatteo’s Basic and Applied Cognitive and Social Psychology “ME” lab will conduct research rooted in a basic question in social cognition: what is the self for? We aim to pursue this question in contemporary and applied ways by combining current technology and communication platforms to investigate self-focused attention, specifically asking why we think about ourselves when engaging with someone else?

Dr. DiMatteo has presented widely on the psychology of self-focused attention in social interactions, particularly in how self-focused attention relates to self-consciousness, self-esteem, and social anxiety. In the ME Lab, we will study why we think about ourselves when engaging with someone else, and how relational threats and bolsters to the self, intending to make people feel good or bad about the self, might interact with people’s focus of attention on the self.

One way we will measure self-focused attention is with linguistic analyses, specifically in people’s use of self-focused pronouns (e.g., I, me, my) and the amount (of time and words) they spend talking or posting online, and how these patterns of shifting self-activation relate to self-conscious emotions, such as pride and shame. Research in the ME Lab will extend to the important contemporary area of self-focused attention in social media engagement. In the ME Lab, with relatively simple technology, we can examine participants’ navigation of social networking sites by measuring their behavioral responses and language choices.

By measuring how people present, monitor, and think about the self during moment-to-moment interactions, the ME Lab hopes to contribute to a better understanding of how the self functions in social interactions, both when it is functioning well—promoting good esteem and healthy relationships and when it is functioning poorly—resulting in excessive ego attachment and failures to relate to or understand others.