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Rachel Smallman

Assistant Professor
Areas of Speciality
  • Social & Personality Psychology
  • (979) 845-3983
  • Psychology 243
Professional Links
Assistant Professor

Research Interests

My research focuses on the conscious and non-conscious processes involved in everyday decision-making. One line of research focuses on counterfactual thinking, or thoughts of “what might have been”. Imagining how events might have turned out differently is a typical feature of the mental landscape; research shows that these counterfactual thoughts can be both dysfunctional and functional, depending on the situation. Although it can bias blame and responsibility judgments, it can also help us learn from past mistakes. My research examines both sides of this counterfactual coin. This research has broader interdisciplinary connections to both mental health and health behavior domains. A second line of research focuses on various factors (e.g., affect and mindset) that impact decision-making and categorization processes. Of particular interest is how affective information can influence our decision-making strategies. An applied line of this research focuses on decision-making in engineering. In general, my research integrates traditional social and cognitive methodology with decision-making research.

Recent Publications

Smallman, R., Summerville, A., Walker, R. J.*, & Becker, B.* (in press). Counterfactual thought. In K. Sweeny & M. L. Robbins (Eds.), The Wiley Encyclopedia of Health Psychology: Volume II, The Social Bases of Health Behavior.

Vermillion, S. D.*, Malak, R. J., Smallman, R., Becker, B.*, Sferra, M.*, & Fields, S. (in press). An investigation on using serious gaming to study human decision-making in engineering contexts. Design Science.

Roese, N. J., Smallman, R., & Epstude, K. (2017). Do episodic counterfactual thoughts focus on personally controllable action?: The role of self-initiation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 73, 14-23.

Smallman, R., & Becker, B.*(2017). Motivational differences in seeking out evaluative categorization information. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 43, 1020-1032.

Fields, S., Smallman, R., Hicks, J., Lange, K.*, & Thamotharan, S.* (2017). Narrowing of attention following food cue exposure in obese emerging adults: Does impulsivity matter?  Personality and Individual Differences, 108, 144-148.

Lench, H. C., Smallman, R., & Berg, L. A.* (2016). Moving toward a brighter future: The effects of desire on judgments about the likelihood of future events. Motivation Science, 2, 33-48.

Walker, R. J.*, Smallman, R., Summerville, A., & Deska, J. C.* (2016). Motivated by us but not from them: Group membership influences the impact of counterfactual thinking on behavioral intentions. Social Cognition, 34, 286-305

Smith, P., Smallman, R., & Rucker, D. (2016). Power and categorization: Power increases the number and abstractness of categories. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 7, 281-289.

Ramos, A.*, Becker, B.*, Biemer, J.**, Clark, L.**, Fields, S., & Smallman, R. (2016). The theory of planned behavior and ADHD medication use: The effect of counterfactual thinking.  Substance Use and Misuse, 51, 508-516.