PI: Dr. Sean Laurent (CV)

I graduated from the University of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Honors College in 2004. At UMass, while making furniture, doing construction, and operating a kung fu school (now run by a former student!), I worked as a research assistant in Dr. Linda Isbell’s lab, then spent a year after graduation working under the supervision of Dr. Paula Pietromonaco. In 2005, I moved on to the University of Oregon, working under the kind and patient guidance of Dr. Sara Hodges, studying topics related to empathy and perspective taking.

I received my PhD in social psychology from UO in 2010 and then worked for three years as an Assistant Lecturer in the Psychology Department at the University of Wyoming. After returning to the University of Oregon as a pro-tem instructor from 2013-2016, I joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was in that position from 2016-2021. Most recently (as of fall 2021), I accepted a new position within the Department of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University. I study a variety of topics related to social cognition and morality, while also maintaining this humble and far-less-than-excellent WordPress website.

Google Scholar

Current PhD Students

Da Eun Han (MA) joined the MASC lab in 2018. She received her B.S. in Chinese Language and Literature, but hardly speaks Chinese, which probably led her to double major in Psychology. She received her M.A. in psychology at Yonsei University in South Korea. She has been working on diverse topics such as culture, moral self, praise/blame, social status, emotions, and other topics. In particular, Da Eun is interested in how people form moral judgments, what underlies moral behavior, and the relationship between morality and an internal/external focus on the self.

Minjae Seo (MS) is a doctoral student in the social psychology program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also works under the supervision of Dr. Dov Cohen. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Political Science at Yonsei University in South Korea. She is interested in cultural universals and variations in values, moral perceptions, and behaviors. She is currently working on projects related to moral emotions, intercultural relationships, and cultural differences in immoral behaviors and perceptions of hypocrisy.

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Shoko Watanabe (MS*2) (CV) was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii in sixth grade, living there until moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma where she studied theology at Oral Roberts University before joining the MASC lab in the Fall of 2016.

Shoko’s research addresses questions like: Can we attain moral perfection? When and why do people promote forgiveness? What roles do religion, perception of free will, motives for atoning, and perspective-taking play in promoting or inhibiting forgiveness? What are the contextual factors that influence perceptions of moral hypocrisy and when do people forgive or punish others for their hypocrisy? What role does trust play in formation and maintenance of friendship and leadership within a group?

Shoko is also a certified math teacher with an MS in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University. Shoko has also explored other careers in banking and restaurant management industries, but she ultimately realized that her passion was in psychology and philosophy. Outside of these topics, Shoko enjoys traveling, learning foreign languages, playing video games, and cooking.

Drew Weiner (MS) joined the MASC Lab in 2017 (Note: Drew was one of the first students admitted to the UIUC’s new Master’s in Psychological Science program; he was also admitted to the Ph.D. program starting Fall 2019). He graduated from Creighton University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in psychology and Spanish and Hispanic studies. His primary research interests revolve around wealth inequality and the social perception of individuals from varying socioeconomic statuses. He is currently working on a program of research to distinguish how individuals with different levels of wealth are blamed and praised and to identify the mechanisms driving these judgments. His other interests include just-world beliefs, victim blaming, and the mechanisms underlying moral judgments.

Current Master’s Students

Jieming (Lois) Li (BS) (CV) joined the MASC lab in 2019 after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in psychology (social psychology concentration) and a minor in cognitive neuroscience. Lois is passionate about social justice and has broad interests in stereotypes, racial and gender identities, and moral cognition. Currently, she is working on a project involving how embodied cues about morality influence moral judgments and punishment intentions and also developing a study involving the influence of gender and gendered cues on perceived morality.

Beyond research, Lois enjoys reading, watching films, and listening to indie music. She is also interested in classic and vintage cars, fashion, and photography.

Chas Monge (BS) began a collaborative project with the MASC lab in Spring 2020. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Sociology from Illinois College. His primary research interests concern online toxic behaviors (e.g., cyberbullying, flaming, trolling, etc.) and how people either justify (particularly in cases of the self) or condemn it. More generally, he is interested in the ways in which people form beliefs about others online, and how these beliefs inform judgments about the appropriateness of toxic behaviors online. Chas is also advised by Dr. Howard Berenbaum.

Other MASC Lab Collaborators and Contributors Past and Present

Jun-Yeob Kim (MS) (also one of the first students admitted to the MPS program and admitted to the PhD program in 2019) studies Industrial/Organizational psychology under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Newman. He received his BA in Psychology and Philosophy from the Catholic University of Korea in 2016. He is interested in exploring the ways that people’s personality traits and characteristics, such as gender and culture, influence their perceptions of leaders. Additionally, he is interested in how perceiver and leader traits interact. He is currently working on a project involving how thinking about death influences victim blaming through promoting the need to believe that the world is just.


Elizabeth (Liz) Lozano (MS) is a Ph.D. student in the social psychology program at UIUC. Her interests include understanding how seeing others blame (or take responsibility) for outcomes they caused influences beliefs that other, unrelated agents will also shift blame. Currently, she works with Dr. R. Chris Fraley on topics related to attachment, with a particular interest in how attachment works for donor-conceived individuals.

Brandon Reich (PhD) (Webpage) recently earned his doctorate in Marketing at the University of Oregon, where he focused on consumer psychology. He has recently joined the faculty at Portland State University.

Brandon’s overarching area of research centers around ethics (questions of right and wrong) in consumer spaces. Consumers and marketers usually consider ethics when making decisions, and Brandon’s research examines how these considerations shape consumer and societal well-being. He draws from theories of moral reasoning, inference making, and social cognition to develop two interrelated lines of research in this domain: (1) Marketplace blame and consumer moral judgment, (2) Sustainability through alternative consumption.

Fernando Sanchez Hernandez (MS) is a PhD student in developmental psychology, working under the supervision of Dr. Dan Hyde. After receiving a BA in Jazz studies from the University of New Orleans, he moved to Minneapolis to work at the Institute of Child Development where he worked with Dr. Albert Yonas and Dr. Melissa Koenig. Fernando uses a developmental approach to examine social cognition, informed by neuroscience and behavioral economics methods. He is particularly interested in understanding mechanisms of moral cognition such as agency perception, mental state attribution, and negativity bias.

Shiyu Yang (MA) is a Ph.D student at the Gies College of Business of UIUC. She received undergraduate degrees in Economics and Psychology (double major) and an M.A. Management from Peking University. Currently she is working on a project looking at how positive moral emotions transform people’s outlook on themselves as well as on the world. Her passion in examining the micro foundations of morality also extends to discussions about societal institutions in cross-cultural contexts. She loves nature and art and believes in the value of diversity. Her favorite quote is from the anthropologist Wade Davis: “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”

Hany Zayed (MS) is from Cairo, Egypt, and is a PhD student in Sociology at UIUC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Economics, and Innovation Management and a master’s degree in Politics, Economics, and Philosophy. Ignited and crystallized by the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, his research interests lie primarily at the intersection of social movements, social psychology, and the sociology of media. Currently, he is working with the MASC Lab on a project investigating how moral shocks and moral outrage decrease support for undesirable business practices.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Grace (Yujia) Bai double majors in Psychology and English. She was born in Xi’an, China but went to elementary school in Houston, Texas, and finished middle school as well as high school in her hometown. Grace wants to pursue a PhD degree in social psychology, and her major research interests are personality and social development, social cognition, and culture. Outside of studying, Grace loves Japanese anime, music, dancing, and watching ice-skating competitions. Given the time, she would also like to skate professionally someday.

Olivia Benge is a double major in psychology and painting who plans to pursue a PhD in psychology. She is interested in how and why people choose to behave morally vs. immorally. Her outside interests are writing, photography, running, and film.

Austin Eichhorn is majoring in Psychology and Integrative Biology. She wants to pursue graduate school and has a wide variety of research interests. She is mainly interested in how children view their peers with different types of mental illnesses and how that impacts their relationships and interactions with these peers. In her free time, she enjoys painting, cooking, and reading.

Natalia Fic studies psychology and Spanish. She hopes to pursue a JD/PhD program in the future, combining her love for law and psychology. She plans to study civil rights law and is mainly interested in the way people blame others, especially in cases involving race and discrimination. Outside the lab she works as a DJ and writer for the Champaign alternative radio station and enjoys listening to hip-hop. 

Suryaa Gupta is studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in French. She has wide interests but would like to become a physician and public health. Suryaa joined the MASC lab after working with children in the psychiatry department at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Suryaa loves to travel and immerse herself in different cultures. She studied abroad in France for a month and is hoping to return in the near future and would like to travel more in Europe before settling into her career. Currently, Suryaa is working on a project with the MASC lab on vaccine hesitancy.

Colin Hardman majors in social psychology and also works with radio production and technology. His interests are primarily in the interplay between moral beliefs and behavior and how shifts in one affect the other. Colin wants to pursue a graduate degree in social psychology, but his main future plan involves ensuring he has plenty of colleagues with whom he can discuss fun animal facts. His other outside interests include hiking, gaming, and tabletop games.

Sean Kirchman is a double major in psychology (social concentration) and sociology. Sean plans to pursue a PhD in psychology after graduation. Beyond psychology, his interests are chess, swimming, and lifeguarding.

Giovana Mete is planning to major in Psychology as well as Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Spanish. Beyond college, she plans to get a Masters degree in Psychology. Outside of her studies, Giovana enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing lacrosse, and being outdoors. 

Isabella Portelli is majoring in psychology and plans to pursue a graduate degree in the field, but is exploring different concentrations. She is a James Scholar and is active in a variety of volunteer and social organizations on campus. Her interests include spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling, and dancing!

Matt Saxsma is a double major in Psychology and Statistics and plans to pursue a PhD in social psychology after graduation. He is interested in moral intuitions, how they form, and how they can be changed. Outside of academics, Matt enjoys strength training, playing basketball, cooking, and reading psychology and philosophy.

Duoduo Qi is a double-major in Psychology and Economics, with a Business minor. She plans to get a Masters degree in either Social Psychology or Business Analytics. Beyond studies, she enjoys cooking, watching movies and spending time with family. 

Former Undergraduate Research Assistants

My deepest thanks to all of the undergraduate students who have done so much amazing work for all of us in the MASC lab, but have now moved on to bigger and better things, such as internships, teaching jobs, and of course, graduate school. We appreciate everything you did when you were with us, and wish you all the best in your bright futures!

Kiley Breen, Alyssa Castronovo, Ariana Daneshbodi, Hailey Gaba, Koh Kobayashi, Lucy Park, Pranav Pamidighantam, Leslie Pardo, Priyanka Patel, Jessica Resnick, Emma Schwartz, Aboorva Sivasankaran, Saheli Sheth, Jessica Vega, and Carol (Yi) Zhou.

Lab Pizza Party Photos

Smaller post-worst-part-of-COVID-19-at-least-in-the-US-before-Delta-Variant Pizza Party prior to my move eastward to PSU 🙂 (May 2021)

End of COVID-19 Semester Pizza Party that never happened in 2020… 😦

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2019)

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2018)

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2017)