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 first 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 2nd year MA 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'm a first year MA student, and I'm interested in the intersections between culture, meaning, morality, and close relationships. In particular, I'm interested in the way close relationships function to provide meaning across different cultures.



Lab Manager

Catherine Li


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.

Leili Mortazavi


I'm a 3rd year honours undergraduate student pursuing my BA in psychology. Currently, I'm working with Kate Guan, investigating dynamics of goal pursuit and relationships across cultures. I'm very interested in studying underlying cognitive mechanisms of cross-cultural differences.

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.


Jasmeen Dosanjh



I am a third-year Psychology undergrad, currently working on a directed studies project with Benjamin Cheung, exploring the concepts of genetic essentialism and learning styles. My research interests include psychological and social influences on sport performance and exercise motivation, in addition to the effects of participation in sport and exercise on cognition, social development, health, and well-being.

Vanessa Kong



I am a third year BA Psychology student, working on my honours thesis with Adam, where we investigate the effects of awe on learning. My research interests are broadly focused on the improvement of mental health, learning, and self-esteem across different cultures. Apart from working in Dr. Heine's lab, I am also a research assistant in Dr. Tracy's Emotion and Self lab.

Former PhD Students, Post Docs, and Lab Alumni

Undergraduate Lab Alumni