Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 2005-2013

53rd Nebraska Symposium on Prejudice and Racism

Coordinated by: Cynthia Willis-Esqueda

The study of prejudice and racism is one of the oldest interests of social psychology (Allport, 1954; Stangor & Lange, 1994) and continues as a major area of interest in the social sciences, in general. Early approaches to the study of prejudice and racism focused on intra-individual processes and personality deficits, motivational aspects of inter-ethnic conflict, and the content and application of racial prejudice. With the advent of the cognitive approach to scholarship in social behavior, the focus was on the cognitive processes that promote, maintain, and transmit prejudice and how discrimination was best detected and controlled. However, the turn of the century brought with it a renewed interest in the motivational aspects of prejudice and racism. Fiske (2000) has noted that the present state of understanding stereotyping and prejudice stems from basic motives (i.e., belonging, understanding, controlling, enhancing, and trusting) and that new approaches to the understanding of prejudice and racism must include the study of a combination of cognitive and motivational aspects. That is, in order to fully understand the underpinnings of prejudice and racism, it must be remembered that motivation influences cognition (Dunton & Fazio, 1997) and cognition influences motivation (Steele, 1998). Currently, it is recognized that motivational influences must be accounted for when investigating and understanding prejudice and racism, and this has and will produce new and rejuvenated interest in scholarship on the effects of race biases. For example, the recent work on the current forms of prejudice and racism contain notions of the inherent importance of motivational aspects. In addition, current research examines the influences that prejudice and racism have for the targets of racial biases. Consequently, the 2005 Nebraska Symposium on Motivation highlighted the work of scholars who are at the forefront of research on the motivational aspects of prejudice and racism and the impact of such forces on the targets of racial bias.

54th Nebraska Symposium on Contemporary Perspectives on Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Identities

Coordinated by: Debra A. Hope, Ph.D.

This year the Nebraska Symposium turns its attention to psychological aspects of sexual orientation. Whether one defines sexual orientation as sexual behavior, self-identification, or attraction, sexual orientation is fundamentally about motivation, making it an ideal topic for the NSM. The same-sex marriage debate is part of a broader discussion about sexual orientation that we are having as a society. Many of the issues have or should be addressed by psychology and related fields, yet this literature is not yet well-known. Thus the first goal of this Nebraska Symposium is to provide a forum to for leading scholars to share their work on a variety of topics including the coming out experience, same-sex families, hate crimes and bias, and psychobiological underpinning of sexual orientation. Because gays, lesbians, bisexuals and their families live with an evolving legal status for their civil rights and protections, we will also include a legal perspective. The second goal of this Symposium is to inform teachers of psychology about the state of the art work in this area so that it can be incorporated into courses. Students are interested in what psychology has to say about sexual orientation and it is relevant to nearly every course in a psychology curriculum. Yet most psychologists are unfamiliar with the scientific literature so it is hoped that this Symposium will give instructors a starting point for updating their syllabi. The third goal is to provide mental health providers and educators with the background to better serve their lesbian, gay and bisexual clients and students.

Scheduled speakers include:

Michael Bailey, Ph.D. (Northwestern University)

Marvin Goldfried, Ph.D. (SUNY-Stony Brook)

Gregory Herek, Ph.D. (University of California-Davis)

Charlotte Patterson, Ph.D., (University of Virginia)

Esther Rothblum (San Diego State University)

Ritch Savin-Williams, Ph.D. (Cornell University)

55th Nebraska Symposium on The Motivational Impact of Nicotine and its Role in Tobacco Use

Coordinated by: Rick Bevins, Ph.D. (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) & Tony Caggiula (University of Pittsburgh)

This year the Nebraska Symposium on Motivation will address smoking and nicotine dependence as the leading cause of preventable deaths in the US. Indeed, 21% of the adults in the US can be considered smokers. With these 44.5 million smokers consuming over 367 billion cigarettes a year an estimated 440,000 people die prematurely from smoking-related diseases each year. This smoking behavior is estimated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to cost over $167 billion a year in health-related expenses and lost worker productivity due to early deaths. Clearly, chronic tobacco use is costly from an individual and societal perspective and the health and economic benefits of quitting are enormous. In recent years there have been several significant discoveries into the motivational effects of nicotine and its potential contribution to tobacco use. These recent insights have occurred at the behavioral, cognitive, and neurobiological level and span "bench" research to "bedside" application. Accordingly, we have gathered leading researchers in the field of nicotine dependence and tobacco use to discuss these recent advances in research, theory, and application. In doing so, we hope not only to start generating a more coherent and cohesive picture of these motivational effects of nicotine, but to critically discuss new intervention and prevention approaches to tobacco use.

Please accept this invitation to participate in this integrative and thought provoking meeting. Attendance is FREE (i.e., no registration fee). We also encourage you to present some of your own cutting-edge drug abuse research at the poster session (link to posters & registration). Although the Symposium focuses on nicotine dependence, the interests of the participants clearly include drug abuse in general. As such, we encourage submission of posters on drug abuse broadly defined from any level of analysis.

Scheduled speakers include:
Rick Bevins, Ph.D. (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Anthony Caggiula, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)

John Dani, Ph.D. (Baylor College of Medicine)

Linda Dwoskin, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky)

Athina Markou, Ph.D. (The Scripps Research Institute)

Kenneth Perkins, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)

Marina Picciotto, Ph.D. (Yale University School of Medicine)

Jed Rose, Ph.D. (Duke Center for Nicotine & Smoking Cessation Research)

Stephen Tiffany, Ph.D. (University of Utah School of Medicine)

56th Nebraska Symposium on Emotion and the Law: Psychological Perspectives

Coordinated by: Brian H. Bornstein and Richard L. Wiener

The last decade has seen burgeoning interest in issues at the intersection of emotion and law. Given the longstanding interest in emotion among social (and other) psychologists, most of this research has come from a psychological perspective, but it also includes scholars from law, sociology, philosophy, and neuroscience. The issues are theoretical as well as practical, influencing both psychological theories of emotion and legal practice and policy.

The law adopts a double standard in its treatment of emotion. In some areas, the law explicitly addresses emotion as a legitimate consideration, but in other areas, the law denies emotion any role in legal decision-making. For example, legal analysis requires decision makers to consider the emotion of others when weighing the credibility of eyewitnesses, classifying certain offenses as "hate crimes," classifying crimes for purposes of criminal culpability (e.g., "crimes of passion"), awarding damages for emotional injuries (e.g., mental suffering, emotional distress), and allowing jurors’ moral response to influence such consequential decisions as punitive damages, capital sentencing, and jury nullification. At the same time, the courts make what may be an untenable presumption when they require jurors to evaluate certain kinds of evidence dispassionately.

The 2008 Nebraska Symposium on Motivation will include distinguished speakers who are working at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary psycholegal scholarship that examines the role of emotion in the law.



Scheduled speakers include:
Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D. (University of California-Irvine)

Neal Feigenson, J.D. (Quinnipiac Law School)

Jeremy Blumenthal, J.D., Ph.D. (Syracuse Law School)

Norbert Kerr, Ph.D. (Michigan State University)

Joe Forgas, Ph.D. (University of New South Wales, Australia)

Joel Lieberman, Ph.D. (University of Nevada-Las Vegas)

57th Nebraska Symposium on Emotion and the Law: Ethnicity and Youth Health Disparities

Coordinated by: Gustavo Carlo, Lisa Crockett and Miguel Carranza

As asserted in the National Institutes of Health report, Healthy People 2010, health disparities due to race, gender, ethnicity, and social class will become a major threat to the well being of the nation in this century. The goals of this Nebraska Symposium are threefold: 1) to provide basic information on the scope and etiology of health disparities among youth, 2) to identify the methodological and political challenges ahead, and 3) to provide a venue for exchange of ideas to address these challenges and reduce these disparities. The Symposium will bring together eminent scholars who are known for studying psychological and behavioral health in ethnic minority populations in the U.S. The speakers have expertise on health disparities across multiple ethnic populations including African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans, as well as disparities linked to social class. Health topics to be discussed include violence, academic achievement, substance use, and physical and mental health, among others. The speakers will focus on two key issues: (1) major conclusions from theory and research and (2) how their body of work has or could improve human well-being and functioning. The Symposium will prove valuable to students, researchers, educators, service providers, practitioners, and policy makers.

58th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: A Reappraisal of the Recovered/False Memory Debate

Coordinated by: Robert F. Belli

For several decades now, the field of psychology has struggled with capturing a full understanding of the processes that have led to some adults suddenly remembering having been sexually abused while they were children. Are such experiences true recoveries of forgotten events, false memories induced via suggestions, or are some of these experiences true whereas others are false? Because the consequences of either a true recovery or a false memory of such a socially tragic event are important in terms of leading to an opportunity for either healing or harming, a vigorous debate has arisen between psychologists who have emphasized one point of view or the other.

At times referred to as the "Memory Wars" in psychology, the recovered/false memory debate has been fueled by conflicting evidence and the need for additional knowledge of the interaction among emotion, motivation, and memory. On April 22-23, 2010, the 58th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation will bring together leading international experts in a balanced reappraisal of this debate. The main aim of this Nebraska Symposium is to explore the issues surrounding the existence of recovered and false memories as revealed by the latest relevant research and knowledge that has been acquired from cognitive and clinical psychological perspectives, and the emerging field of cognitive neuroscience. Eminent scholars will explore how interactions among motivation, emotion, and memory lead to conditions that can foster both true recovery and false remembering. By providing a venue that will support the exchange of ideas, this Nebraska Symposium is expected to expose both areas of continuing differences in scientific opinion as well as areas of agreement. The Symposium will prove valuable to practitioners, researchers, educators, legal scholars, and students.

Scheduled speakers included:

  • Michael Anderson (University of Cambridge)
  • Chris Brewin (University College London)
  • Jennifer Freyd (University of Oregon)
  • Elke Geraerts (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Marcia Johnson (Yale University)
  • Richard J. McNally (Harvard University)

59th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Visual Search

Coordinated by: Michael D. Dodd and John H. Flowers

To successfully navigate and interact with our visual world, one must efficiently direct attention to important features in the environment while simultaneously ignoring unimportant or distracting stimuli. As a consequence, one of the most studied aspects of cognition is visual search. Everyone can relate to the example of searching for one’s car in a parking lot or a friend in a crowd, but the importance of search actually extends beyond these examples to even the most basic behaviors. Watching television, reading, and walking down a city street all require continuous shifts of attention throughout the environment to extract meaningful target information. In a sense then, almost everything we do in life is a form of search task.

Given the importance of the search process to everyday behavior, countless studies have been conducted to determine the behavioral, cognitive, and neurological factors that influence how we attend to our surroundings. What has emerged is a complex picture in which this seemingly simple process is influenced by both bottom-up (e.g. features, luminance) and top-down (e.g. motivation, expertise) factors of which an individual may or may not be consciously aware. As a consequence, a complete understanding of search can only be obtained by considering the research from a number of different paradigms and domains. This Symposium will bring together distinguished speakers who are conducting cutting edge research on the many factors that influence search behavior. These factors will include low-level feature detection; statistical learning; scene perception; neural mechanisms of attention; and applied research in real world settings. The speakers included:

  • Andrew Hollingworth, Ph.D. (University of Iowa)
  • Raymond Klein, Ph.D. (Dalhousie University)
  • Stephen Mitroff, Ph.D. (Duke University)
  • Jan Theeuwes, Ph.D. (Vrije University)
  • Nick Turk-Browne, Ph.D. (Princeton University)
  • Jeremy Wolfe, Ph.D. (Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital)
  • Steven Yantis, Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University)

60th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Objectification and (De)Humanization

Coordinated by: Sarah J. Gervais

People often see nonhuman agents as human-like. Through the processes of anthropomorphism and humanization, people attribute human characteristics, including personalities, free will, and agency to pets, cars, gods, nature, and the like. Similarly, people often see human agents as less than human or object-like. For example, women, medical patients, racial minorities, and people with disabilities, are often seen as animal-like or less than human through dehumanization and objectification. These processes may be a considered a continuum with anthropomorphism and humanization on one end and dehumanization and objectification on the other end. Although researchers have identified some of the antecedents and consequences of these processes, a systematic investigation of the motivations that underlie this continuum is lacking. Considerations of this continuum may have considerable implications for such areas as everyday human functioning, interactions with people, animals, and objects, violence, discrimination, relationship development, mental health, or psychopathology. This symposium and edited volume will integrate multiple theoretical and empirical approaches on this issue. The speakers included:

-Rachel Calogero, Ph.D. (Virginia Wesleyan College)

-Nicholas Epley, Ph.D. (University of Chicago)

-Susan Fiske, Ph.D. (Princeton University)

-Jamie Goldenberg, Ph.D. (University of South Florida)

-Nicholas Haslam, Ph.D. (University of Melbourne)

-Bonnie Moradi, Ph.D. (University of Florida)

61th Nebraska Symposium on Motivation: Genes and the Motivation to Use Substances

Coordinated by: Scott F. Stoltenberg

People are motivated to use substances and, in general, most people who use them do not develop a substance use disorder (SUD). Why is it that some individuals develop problems with substance use while others do not? There is strong evidence that genetic factors influence a person’s risk for developing an SUD. Individual differences in the motivation to use substances are at least in part associated with genetic differences between people. Research into the genetics underlying the development of SUDs is a critical contributor to our understanding of the biopsychosocial factors that influence substance use. In the past two decades, genetic research on SUDs has grown tremendously. An important goal of this genetic work is to take this new information from the laboratory to the clinic for use in personalized medicine. The 61st Annual Nebraska Symposium on Motivation addressed critical issues in relations among genes and the motivation to use substances. The speakers included:

62nd Nebraska Symposium on Motivation--Cooperation and Compliance with Authority: The Role of Institutional Trust

Coordinated by: Brian H. Bornstein, Ph.D., and Alan J. Tomkins, J.D., Ph.D.


 The 62nd Annual Nebraska Symposium on Motivation addressed critical issues in institutional trust. The speakers included:

  • James Gibson (Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis)
  • Karen Hegtvedt (Department of Sociology, Emory University)
  • Jonathan Jackson (Mannheim Centre for the Study of Criminology and Criminal Justice, London School of Economics and Political Science)
  • Peter Ping Li (Department of International Economics and Management, Copenhagen Business School)
  • Robert MacCoun (School of Public Policy and Boalt School of Law, University of California – Berkeley)
  • David Rottman (National Center for State Courts)
  • David Schoorman (Krannert School of Management, Purdue University)
  • Beth Theiss-Morse (Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska – Lincoln)
The symposium was followed by the National Science Foundation Workshop on Institutional Trust and Confidence.