Antonio Freitas, Ph.D.
Motivation-cognition interactions and their implications for social behavior.
The psychology of motivation and self-regulation examines determinants of people's goals and the processes by which people then orient their attention and action to goals and goal-relevant information.
Research on motivation and self-regulation has benefited from a strong integration with basic work on cognition. Research in our lab builds on those advances by examining how mental representations of potential choices impact a broad range of self-regulatory processes, such as action initiation, action control, affective evaluation, and the construal of others' intentions. We also study lower-level mechanisms of cognitive control. In this work, we have been trying to clarify how people adapt the control of action and cognition to fluctuating environmental demands. For example, sometimes environmental demands are relatively low, and we can allow our actions to unfold relatively automatically, whereas other times we need to exercise much more selectivity in what we attend to and what we do. Our research suggests that people appear address these shifting demands through engaging mechanisms of cognitive control, such as selective attention, that then facilitate how they handle newly encountered events.
My collaborators (including graduate and undergraduate students) and I address these issues with methods that include manipulating mental-construal variables that affect how much conflict people perceive among their life goals (Clark & Freitas, 2013), testing interventions to promote physical exercise (Sweeney & Freitas, 2014), assessing sequential effects of information-processing conflict on performance of response-timed tasks (Freitas & Clark, 2014; Freitas, Bahar, Yang, & Banai, 2007), investigating electrophysiological correlates of motivational states and of recruiting cognitive control (Freitas, Katz, Azizian, & Squires, 2008; Freitas, Azizian, Leung, & Squires, 2007).
Note: Asterisk* connotes Stony Brook student co-author.
Feldman*, J.L., Clark*, S. L., & Freitas, A. L. (Invited revision under review). Conflict Adaptation within but not across NoGo Decision Criteria: Event-Related-Potential Evidence of Specificity in the Contextual Modulation of Cognitive Control. Biological Psychology.
Sweeney*, A. M., & Freitas, A. L. (Invited revision under review). Mistakes Pertaining to Undesired (relative to Desired) Self-Standards Elicit Immediate Enhanced Electrocortical Signals of Error Processing. Motivation and Emotion.
Freitas, A. L., & Clark, S. L. (2015). Generality and specificity in cognitive control: Conflict adaptation within and across selective-attention tasks but not across selective-attention and simon tasks. Psychological Research, doi:10.1007/s00426-014-0540-1
Sweeney*, A. M., & Freitas, A. L. (2014). Relating action to abstract goals increases physical activity reported a week later. Psychology Of Sport And Exercise, 15(4), 364-373. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2014.03.009
Clark*, S. L., & Freitas, A. L. (2013). Construing action abstractly and perceiving consonance among goal pursuits: Implications for activity substitutability and the accessibility of activity-goal links. Motivation And Emotion, 37(3), 537-549. doi:10.1007/s11031-012-9334-1