Research Interests

Memory, Social Cognition, Collective Memory, Collective Beliefs, Mnemonic Engineering, Prediction Error, Retrieval Induced Forgetting, Memory Suppression, Belief Change, Social Interactions, Strategies to Reduce Misinformation, Fake News 

cognition 

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Bio

I am a fourth-year graduate student at Princeton University studying Cognitive Psychology in the Socio Cognitive Processes Lab. I received a BA in Psychology and Economics from the University of Rochester in 2016. My research questions target mechanisms behind memory processes at the individual level (prediction error, retrieval induced forgetting), as well as their interplay and influence on social constructs at both the individual and the collective level (collective memory, collective beliefs). I am also interested in the mechanisms that influence the formation and endorsement of beliefs, such as memory accessibility, emotional arousal, and prediction error.

Recent Publications

Vlasceanu, M., & Coman, A. (2018). Mnemonic accessibility affects statement believability: the effect of listening to others selectively practicing beliefs. Cognition , 180 (November), 238-245. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Belief endorsement is rarely a fully deliberative process. Oftentimes, one’s beliefs are influenced by superficial characteristics of the belief evaluation experience. Here, we show that by manipulating the mnemonic accessibility of particular beliefs we can alter their believability. We use a well-established socio-cognitive paradigm (i.e., the social version of the selective practice paradigm) to increase the mnemonic accessibility of some beliefs and induce forgetting in others. We find that listening to a speaker selectively practicing beliefs results in changes in believability. Beliefs that are mentioned become mnemonically accessible and exhibit an increase in believability, while beliefs that are related to those mentioned experience mnemonic suppression, which results in decreased believability. Importantly, the latter effect occurs regardless of whether the belief is scientifically accurate or inaccurate. Furthermore, beliefs that are endorsed with moderate-strength are particularly susceptible to mnemonically-induced believability changes. These findings, we argue, have the potential to guide interventions aimed at correcting misinformation in vulnerable communities.

Vlasceanu, M., Enz, K., & Coman, A. (2018). Cognition in a social context: A social-interactionist approach to emergent phenomena. Current Directions in Psychological Sciences. Publisher's VersionAbstract

 

The formation of collective memories, emotions and beliefs is a fundamental characteristic of human communities. These emergent outcomes are thought to occur due to a dynamical system of communicative interactions among individuals. But despite recent psychological research on collective phenomena, no programmatic framework to explore the processes involved in their formation exists. Here, we propose a social-interactionist approach that bridges cognitive and social psychology to illuminate how micro-level cognitive phenomena give rise to large-scale social outcomes. It involves first establishing the boundary conditions of cognitive phenomena, then investigating how cognition is influenced by the social context in which it is manifested, and finally studying how dyadic-level influences propagate in social networks. This approach has the potential to (1) illuminate the large-scale consequences of well- established cognitive phenomena, (2) lead to interdisciplinary dialogues between psychology and the other social sciences and (3) be more relevant for public policy than existing approaches.

 

Vlasceanu, M., Drach, R., & Coman, A. (2018). Suppressing my memories by listening to yours: The effect of socially triggered context-based prediction error on memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The mind is a prediction machine. In most situations, it has expectations as to what might happen. But when predictions are invalidated by experience (i.e., prediction errors), the memories that generate these predictions are suppressed. Here, we explore the effect of prediction error on listeners’ memories following social interaction. We find that listening to a speaker recounting experiences similar to one’s own triggers prediction errors on the part of the listener that lead to the suppression of her memories. This effect, we show, is sensitive to a perspective-taking manipulation, such that individuals who are instructed to take the perspective of the speaker experience memory suppression, whereas individuals who undergo a low-perspective-taking manipulation fail to show a mnemonic suppression effect. We discuss the relevance of these findings for our understanding of the bidirectional influences between cognition and social contexts, as well as for the real-world situations that involve memory-based predictions.
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