Paul Stillman


My research seeks to understand how cognition and motivation interact to produce behavior. In particular, by investigating the cognitive underpinnings of goal-pursuit, I seek to advance understanding of self-regulation – how people manage the complex array of goals towards which they strive. I hope to provide insight as to why people behave counter to their goals, as well as suggest strategies for functional self-regulation. One situation in which the cognitive underpinnings of self-regulation are particularly acute is when goals conflict. The bulk of my research thus focuses on how cognitive processes influence resolution of goal-conflicts.

Guiding my research is the belief that a complete understanding of goal-pursuit behavior requires understanding the different components of self-regulation across different levels of analysis by using behavioral, implicit, and neuroscience methodology. As part of my post-doc, I am developing new tools with which to quantify the structure and influence of networks. My research therefore uses a cross-disciplinary and multi-methodological approach to investigate the interplay of motivation and cognition, drawing on theories and methods from social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral economics.

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