About the Lab

Tufts University Social Cognition (TUSC) Lab Members

The TUSC Lab is focused on research programs examining social cognitive aspects of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. We seek to understand topics such as: cognitive representations and stereotypes of African Americans based on variation in skin tone and other phenotypic characteristics; the experience of stereotype threat among members of socially marginalized groups; how the perception of ulterior motives can influence social judgments; how humor, emotion regulation, and persuasion techniques can encourage and empower racial bias confrontation and interracial dialogue, and the role of social categories in spatial representation. 

Our work takes an experimental social cognitive approach to a variety of research topics. Social cognition is the study of how our thought processes influence our behavior. This is an approach within social psychology that grew out of the realization that people use the same mental structures and processes when perceiving and thinking about other people as they do when perceiving and thinking about objects. Object perception and cognition have long been of interest to cognitive psychologists, so social psychologists have benefitted greatly from applying cognitive theories and methodologies to the understanding of social perception. At the same time, because people are not objects, one must consider some of the many ways that social and non-social cognition typically differ. Social psychological researchers embraced these challenges.

Lab Opportunities

  • Are you a current or recent undergraduate interested in getting some research experience? The lab seeks responsible, motivated, and engaged individuals to join as research assistants (RAs) – prior experience is not required. RA positions are not compensated financially. Any individual interested in volunteering their time is welcome to apply but special priority is given to Tufts students who are interested in working for academic credit (PSY 91, 92), for 8-10 hours per week, and able to commit to 2 consecutive semesters in the lab. Please contact Dr. Maddox for availability or additional information.

    If you are interested in applying for a position, please complete this application, which will ask you several questions about your prior experience and require you to upload a recent copy of your resume. Below are target dates for the application process. Depending on lab needs, applications submitted past deadlines may be considered on a rolling basis.

    For RA positions during the Summer:
    Applications should be submitted by April 15
    Applications will be considered after April 15 on a rolling basis.

    For RA positions during the Fall semester:
    Applications should be submitted by August 15
    Applications will be considered: after August 15 on a rolling basis.

    For RA positions for the Spring semester:
    Applications should be submitted by November 15
    Applications will be considered: after November 15 on a rolling basis.

    If you are a high school junior or senior, please explore the Tufts Research Experience for a possible placement in the TUSC lab during the summer or academic year. This program includes additional training activities and experiences with a cohort of students working in several different fields.

  • Are you a former undergraduate interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in Psychology with Dr. Maddox as your graduate advisor? If so, the lab encourages you to explore the graduate program in Psychology. Admissions decisions are made by individual faculty in consultation with the Graduate Education Committee. Please contact Dr. Maddox to see if there are openings for new student(s) for the coming year; this will depend on the current size and composition of the lab, as well as the availability of funding. Below, please review the following information about lab expectations, what it might be like to work in the TUSC lab, and whether the lab environment aligns with your future goals.

    Research Interests: Dr. Maddox is most interested in moving forward with the work described in Schultz et al. 2015 on facilitating interracial interaction. Dr. Maddox has also been dabbling with pilot work on perceptions of racial humor, with a long-term focus on how satirical racial humor might facilitate or inhibit the benefits of interracial dialogue (Borgella, Howard, & Maddox, 2019). Dr. Maddox sees his work on confrontation (Schultz & Maddox, 2013) to be related to this, and is also open to continuing work exploring the implications of racial phenotypicality for behavior and judgments (e.g., Hinzman & Maddox, 2017; Maddox 2004). A focus on these interests will not close him off from considering students interested in other pursuits; it is encouraged that prospective students offer other ideas and alternatives at any time.

    Training Philosophy: Dr. Maddox typically works with students using an apprenticeship model, meaning that incoming students begin by working on projects more closely aligned with his own expertise. Usually this involves following up on previous/ongoing projects in the lab and, hopefully, getting experience with writing and publication. The data and techniques you develop through this process are tools that can be used to explore your own developing interests. Depending on the student and the topic, this process can happen sequentially or in parallel. Dr. Maddox encourages students to develop multiple lines of research and collaborate with other faculty in the department (or at other institutions in some cases).

    Open Science: Dr. Maddox is interested in continuing to bring lab activities in line with developing insights related to open science best practices. This is a new and challenging endeavor. If you decide to apply, please write about any skills or experience you have related to this goal. This will be the lab's focus moving forward, so it is expected incoming students to be ready to either follow or lead in this effort. This includes using analytical techniques and web resources that help to encourage openness and reproducibility (e.g., R, Open Science Framework).

    Graduate Program Focus: The model for Ph.D. training at Tufts is not as well-aligned with career paths outside of academia, but students who have worked with me in the past have been successful in making the transition to the non-academic sector. It is encouraged that potential students pursue an academic career path, but it is understandable if you do not as this is not possible for everyone. The lab will continue to support your efforts to expand your experiences at Tufts to make you competitive for careers of interest. But because this is a Ph.D. program, students must continue to pursue academic publishing in addition to other potential activities. The experience gained by contributing to the scientific literature is at the foundation of doctoral training in psychology. And, while the submission and revision process can be daunting, it is crucial to the development and accumulation of knowledge by providing insights and experiences that can be applied to any career – academic or otherwise.

    Conclusion: If you have your heart set on immediately studying something that does not align well with Dr. Maddox's expertise or agree with the training philosophy, it might be better for you to seek out another lab and advisor. Hopefully this description provides you with some insight on whether you'd like to apply. Please contact Dr. Maddox with any additional questions.


Here are some resources that you may find useful to familiarize yourself with social psychology. To find additional resources please check out the Social Psychology Network (SPN), a huge collection of social psychology-related news and information.