Lab Members & Collaborators
Benjamin van Buren
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Ben conducts research on visual perception, focusing on the perception of seemingly higher-level visual properties, such as animacy and intentionality. Ben's broader research interests include the relationship between perception and higher-level thought, the psychology of art and aesthetics, and interaction design. Before joining The New School's Psychology Department, Ben worked with Johan Wagemans at KU Leuven, and with Brian Scholl at Yale.
Grad Student Lab Members
Silas is a Psychology and Fashion student who is studying how visual perception becomes tuned to extract features of cultural expertise — as when (some of us) learn to discriminate between fashion that is 'in' and fashion that is 'out' of style. As a case study in fashion perception, Silas is running an experiment on the categorical perception of glasses styles. They are interested in whether glasses are perceived more categorically when viewed in the context of a human face.
Didi conducts research at the intersection of vision science and social psychology, focusing on recently reported interactions between our perception of others' facial animacy, and our knowledge of their group membership. Before joining the lab, Didi completed a masters degree at NYU, where she investigated a matter of life and death — specifically, how anthropomorphizing objects may help to alleviate anxiety about one's mortality.
Suzy investigates the perception of animacy in moving geometric shapes. Her recent projects aim to link these elusive phenomena to better-understood processes of mid-level vision. In order to study this, Suzy's experiments often require subjects to play stressful-yet-fun online games, e.g. in which they must move their cursor to avoid colliding with moving obstacles (which sometimes chase them around).
Loren studies the mechanisms by which biological motion perception shapes higher-level social judgments. She is currently running a series of experiments to investigate the perception of socially dominant behavior. She also conducts research in the Ginges Lab, examining the relationships between religion, morality, and human conflict, as well as in the Schober Lab, where she explores the influence of social context on how meaning is inferred from ambiguous language.
PhD Student, Co-Advised by Dr. Joan Miller
Hong is studying several ways in which we see the seemingly unseeable — as when an object’s movements look like they are caused by gravity, or an agent’s movements appear to be caused by an internal motive force. Hong is a master experimentalist and collaborator, and she is working on a number of collaborations with other members of the lab. She is also a member of the Cultural Psychology Laboratory.
PhD Student, Co-Advised by Dr. Joan Miller
Jiangxue investigates how aesthetic experience arises from more basic perceptual, cognitive, and affective processes. Jiangxue's recent research on compositional aesthetics moves beyond the picture plane, focusing instead on how we most like to see objects positioned in 3D spaces. As a member of the Cultural Psychology Laboratory, Jiangxue also conducts research on how language and culture influence cognition. Before joining the New School, Jiangxue studied philosophy and the history of mathematics at St. John’s, and worked in Daniel Casasanto's lab at Cornell.
Sara Obaid Ul Islam
Sara is interested in how our prior experience with visual environments (e.g. natural scenes, websites) changes the way in which we attend to and extract information from them. As a case study, Sara is currently investigating how people deploy attention when viewing social media, which have overnight become a fixture in homo sapiens’ visual ecology. Sara comes to us from Pakistan, and has received a Fulbright Scholarship to support studying at the New School.
Mariah’s research focuses on how we see objects not only as having shapes, but also as having separate, functionally significant parts — such as when we see a shape as having a front. Her research investigates how fronts are perceived, and the consequences of such perception for motor behavior. Prior to entering the Psychology program, she completed a Master’s degree at Parson’s School of Design. Together with Michael Schober and Aaron Hill, she also studies how to design hurricane maps for non-experts, in order to optimally visualize uncertainty and improve risk evaluation.
Friends of the Lab
Hannes and the breathing.ai team are collaborating with the lab to study how digital interfaces can be customized to improve people's cognitive performance (focusing on attention and distraction) and wellbeing (focusing on cardiovascular function). Prior to founding breathing.ai, Hannes completed a residency at U. of Oregon's Institute of Neuroscience, where he worked with Drs. Michael Posner and Ed Vogel to study how meditation practice mediates the impact of visual stimuli on breathing.
PhD Student, Brown & Hirst Labs
Olivia is interested in how higher-level narrative representations are formed about visual stimuli, with a focus on how we process written text. Olivia also conducts research on memory and trauma with Profs. Adam Brown and Bill Hirst, and she is a cofounder of the newly opened MinDesign Lab.
Hanna de Vries
Hanna is investigating the interplay between perception, memory, and visual imagery. As a joint MFA/MA student in Parsons School of Design and the Psychology Department, Hanna played an especially active role in bridging these two communities by helping to found the MinDesign Lab, which aims to bring the best elements of ‘design thinking’ to our scientific practice.
PhD Student, Ginges Lab
Since working in the perception lab, Anne's research has focused on the field of intergroup relations and political psychology, where she studies how people evaluate their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and how they perceive those who are excluded. She applies social contract theory to understand the underlying motivations that people may have for justifying citizenship-related advantages. Her other line of research examines people's reasoning about potential trade-offs between their commitment to democratic principles and other moral and partisan values.
Jimin conducts research on how visual attention works ‘in the wild’, in designed spaces around NYC. Before joining the lab, Jimin completed an MS in Urban Planning at Columbia University, and before that, she worked for the Manhattan Borough President’s Office as a policy analyst.
PhD Student, Fincher Lab
Teya is studying the early perceptual roots of social cognition — what causes us to see other entities as more or less alive, or as having different kinds of minds? Using a psychophysical approach, Teya is investigating how the perception of animacy and mindedness interact with other forms of visual processing. In related work in the Fincher Lab, Teya also studies the broad range of ways in which people may dehumanize one another.