People are a huge component of a successful lab, and the Culture and Self lab is comprised of a number of extremely bright and talented individuals.


Dr. Steve Heine

Dr. Steve Heine


The Culture and Self lab is spearheaded by Dr. Steve Heine.

Our lab is currently working on three distinct research programs, which we refer to as Cultural Psychology, Meaning Maintenance, and Genetic Essentialism.




Graduate Students

Adam Baimel



I am a PhD student interested in the process of meaning making, specifically of that related to the religious experience.

Outside of Dr. Heine's lab, my interests lie at the intersection of the study of religious ritual and social cognition.



Katharina Block






Rachele Benjamin




I am a second year PhD student interested in the study of meaning and how we make sense of the world around us. I am especially interested in meaning threat, and all of the compensatory actions we take to re-establish order in our environment.


Ryan Dwyer




Ryan is a first year PhD student. His research interests are related to how people find and maintain meaning in their lives.


Anita Schmalor




I am a 1st year PhD student interested in the psychological consequences of different levels of economic inequality. Specifically, I am studying the effects of economic inequality on status anxiety, or the extent to which different levels of inequality affect people’s motivation to seek/maintain status as well as cognitive processes that are modulated by inequality.


Kate Guan




I am a second year MA student, with interests in moral psychology and meaning. I study how perceptions of moral character provide us with a sense of order and meaning, and how disconfirmations of these perceptions threaten this sense of meaning. I also conduct research on moral judgment and self-control.

Here is my website.




Lab Manager

Vanessa Kong


I am the joint lab manager for the MECC lab cluster.

My research interests include moral judgment, religion, and sacred values. I am currently completing my Bachelor of Arts in Honours Psychology at UBC.



Undergraduate Research Assistants

Chris Astill


I am a third year exchange Psychology student working with Anita Schmalor researching the effects of economic inequality on status anxiety. My research interests include culture, identity, positive stress and evolutionary psychology.

Alicia Wong


I am in my third year of my BA in Psychology. I am working on a directed studies project with Rachele and Dr. Heine, looking at the relationship between psychological and physical pain, as well as the effect of acetaminophen on behaviour. Outside of the Culture and Self Lab, I work as a study manager for the Social Accuracy Lab investigating personality perception and personal strivings.


Former PhD Students, Post Docs, and Lab Alumni

Undergraduate Lab Alumni