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Research

Our work in the B&T Lab spans a wide range of topics including (but not limited to) self and identity, self-control and self-regulation, ego-depletion, rejection and social exclusion, belongingness, self-esteem, aggression, power, money, free will, consciousness, judgment and decision making, attitudes and persuasion, close relationships, sexual relationships, and terror management theory. Below are descriptions of a few of these topics. For references and downloadable manuscripts of our research, see our publications page.

Self-Control
Our work on self-control (or self-regulation) centers on the idea that self-control relies on a limited energy source. A single act of self-control consumes this energy source, and later acts of self-control are impaired as a result. Findings in our lab on sexual restraint, aggression, intellectual reasoning, emotional coping, and thought suppression support this pattern. Moreover, recent work suggests that part of the energy source of self-control is glucose. Attempts at self-control deplete glucose that is needed for later attempts at self-control.

Consciousness and Free Will
Some of our work focuses on perceptions of free will. In particular, we have been looking at the behavioral consequences of harboring beliefs either in favor of or against free will. Other work examines the role conscious thought plays in higher-level processes such as creativity and logical reasoning. Furthermore, we are examining these factors in the context of our work on self-control; will power, volition, and self-control seem to rely on the same cognitive and physiological resources.

Rejection and Social Exclusion
This research extends previous work on the need to belong by examining the various consequences that result when our ability to fulfill this need is hindered. Our work in this area examines how the experience of social exclusion influences self-awareness, time-perception, intelligent thought, aggression, self-defeating behavior, empathy, and sensitivity to physical pain.