Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Stephen L. Crites, Jr.

Stephen L. Crites, Jr.

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My research focuses on the physiological and motivational processes that are associated with, and influence, cognitive processes and judgments. My students and I examine electrical brain activity when people make like-dislike judgments (attitudes) or activate memories about categories of people (stereotypes). Attitudes are evaluative (like-dislike) judgments that help guide behavior – we use our attitudes to decide with whom we associate, what foods to eat, what TV shows to watch, et cetera. Stereotypes are memory structures that we use to help us understand and prepare for social interactions (especially with people we do not know well). We can measure brain activity that occurs when people see another person (or food, object, etc.) to examine issues such as: how quickly do we activate attitudes, how automatic are stereotypes, and how are attitudes influenced by emotions, moods and motivation states (e.g., how do food attitudes change when people are hungry). An objective of this research is to understand how the brain makes judgments and how it adjusts these judgments based on other relevant information when needed. Some of our research also explores whether brain activity can be used to assess a person’s attitude even if they lie about it.

Primary Interests:

  • Attitudes and Beliefs
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Neuroscience, Psychophysiology
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

Journal Articles:

  • Aikman, S. N., & Crites, S. L., Jr. (2005). Hash browns for breakfast, baked potatoes for dinner: Changes in food attitudes as a function of motivation and context. European Journal of Social Psychology, 35, 181-198.
  • Aikman, S. N., Crites, S. L., Jr., & Fabrigar, L. R. (2006). Beyond affect and cognition: Identification of the informational bases of food attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 340-382.
  • Cacioppo, J. T., Crites, S. L., Jr., Berntson, G. G., & Coles, M. G. H. (1993). If attitudes affect how stimuli are processed, should they not affect the event-related brain potential? Psychological Science, 4, 108-112.
  • Cacioppo, J. T., Crites, S. L., Jr., Gardner, W. L., & Berntson, G. G. (1994). Bioelectrical echoes from evaluative categorizations: I. A late positive brain potential that varies as a function of trait negativity and extremity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 115-125.
  • Crites, S. L., Jr., & Aikman, S. N. (2005). Impact of nutrition knowledge on food evaluations. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59, 1191-1200.
  • Crites, S. L., Jr., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1996). Electrocortical differentiation of evaluative and nonevaluative categorizations. Psychological Science, 7, 318-321.
  • Crites, S. L., Jr., Cacioppo, J. T., Gardner, W. L., & Berntson, G. G. (1995). Bioelectrical echoes from evaluative categorization: II. A late positive brain potential that varies as a function of attitude registration rather than attitude report. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 997-1013.
  • Crites, S. L., Jr., Fabrigar, L. R., & Petty, R. E. (1994). Measuring the affective and cognitive properties of attitudes: Conceptual and methodological issues. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 619-634.
  • Fabrigar, L. R., Petty, R. E., Smith, S. M., & Crites, S. L., Jr. (2006). Understanding knowledge effects on attitude-behavior consistency: The role of relevance, complexity and amount of knowledge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 556-577.
  • White, K. R., Crites, S. L. Jr., Taylor, J. H., & Corral G. (2009). Wait, what? Assessing stereotype incongruities using the N400 ERP component. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 4, 191-198.

Courses Taught:

Stephen L. Crites, Jr.
Department of Psychology
University of Texas at El Paso
500 W. University Avenue
El Paso, Texas 79968
United States

  • Phone: (915) 747-6571
  • Fax: (915) 747-6553

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