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2016 Rising Star designation by the Association for Psychological Science

Eric Hehman and Sam Gaertner

Dr. Eric Hehman, left, with Samuel Gaertner Professor of Psychology at the University of Delaware.

Congratulations to Psychology Professor Eric Hehman who was selected to receive a 2016 Rising Star designation by the Association for Psychological Science.

This international award recognizes Dr. Hehman’s early career accomplishments and innovative work that has already advanced the field, signaling great potential for continued contributions to psychological science. The congratulatory letter from the APS Board of Directors noted that Dr. Hehman is “among the brightest minds in the field of psychology, setting an impressively high standard for the designation in years to come.” 

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Dr. Hehman is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Ryerson University and Director of the Seeing Human Lab. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Delaware working with Sam Gaertner, and did post-doctoral work at Dartmouth College and New York University with Jon Freeman before coming to Ryerson.

Generally, Dr. Hehman's research examines how individuals perceive and evaluate one another across group boundaries (e.g., race, gender, sexual-orientation, occupation, etc). To address these questions, he takes a multi-method approach, incorporating a broad range of behavioral (e.g., computer-mouse tracking, digital face modeling, group interactions), neural (e.g., fMRI, EEG), and statistical techniques (e.g., multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling).

More specifically, the Seeing Human Lab has three major foci. First, we are interested in how social trait attributions (e.g., trustworthy, physically dominant, prejudiced) rise from the processing of  morphological facial features (e.g., eyes, skin color, facial structure), and how this process might vary across group boundaries (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation).

Secondly, using a mix of fMRI and EEG, we examine the neural mechanisms that give rise to these impressions of others. For example, how do perceivers integrate top-down processes, such as motivation or stereotypes, into their representations of targets? When perceivers encounter targets who are inconsistent with their expectations and stereotypes, how is that information integrated at the neural level, and how does it change the overall stereotype? How are these neural processes related to downstream behavior?

Finally, it is particularly important to assess how these social impressions might matter in the real world. Just how might these effects manifest? In what domains (e.g., dating, hiring, voting) are our perceptions of others likely to influence our behaviors? When are our stereotypes and biases particularly likely to change our behaviors?