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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology


Kateri McRae

Please note Dr. McRae is interested in taking a student for Fall 2017 

Areas of expertise/research interests

  • emotion/cognition interactions
  • emotion regulation
  • neuroimaging (fMRI)

Current research and projects

  • Comparing and contrasting the success of different types of emotion regulation strategies (e.g., distraction, cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression).
  • Identifying personal and contextual variables that are associated with the use of different emotion regulation strategies (a creative example is an investigation of emotion regulation at the Burning Man festival).
  • Identifying the relationship between emotion-related personality variables and performance on cognitive tasks, in adolescents as well as adults.

Professional biography

I study the relationship between emotion and cognition, with a particular focus on how different cognitive processes can impact emotion. I am interested in what causes emotions (at sensory, perceptual, cognitive and social levels).

In addition, I am interested in how attention, thought and memory change and are changed by emotion. Specifically, I examine processes that are characterized by emotion-cognition interactions, such as emotion regulation, the cognitive generation of emotion and emotional awareness.

I use an interdisciplinary, multi-measure approach to characterize emotional responding and cognitive processing. In experimental contexts, I measure self-reported emotional experience, peripheral physiological responses and whole-brain signals obtained from neuroimaging techniques (PET and fMRI). I supplement these experimental approaches with correlational studies using self-report measures to characterize emotion-related personality variables and executive functioning tasks to evaluate cognitive skills.

I direct the laboratory for the study of automaticity, affect, control and thought (the AACT lab).

I teach graduate seminars in affective neuroscience and fMRI methods, and undergraduate courses that explore the relationship between psychology and theater. One is called, "Exploring Psychology Through Theater" and the other, "Emotions in Theater and the Brain."

I am currently an undergraduate major adviser for psychology and the faculty adviser for Psi Chi and the Psychology Club.


  • PhD, University of Arizona, 2007
  • MA, University of Arizona, 2004
  • BA, Stanford University, 2002

Selected Publications

  • McRae, K.(2013). Emotion regulation frequency and success: Separating constructs from methods and timescale.  Social and Personality Psychology Compass. doi: 10.1111/spc3.12027
  • McRae, K., Ciesielski, B.R.G., Gross, J.J. (2012) "Unpacking cognitive reappraisal: Goals, tactics and outcomes." Emotion, 12, 250-255. doi: 10.1037/a0026351
  • McRae. K. Heller, S.M., John, O.P & Gross, J.J. (2011). "Context-dependent emotion regulation: Suppression and reappraisal at the Burning Man festival." Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 33, 346-350.
  • McRae, K., Hughes, B., Chopra, S., Gabrieli, J.J.D., Gross, J.J., Ochsner, K.N. (2010). "The neural correlates of cognitive reappraisal and distraction: An fMRI study of emotion regulation." Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 248-262.
  • Ochsner, K.N, Ray, R.D., Hughes, B., McRae, K., Cooper, J., Weber, J., Gabrieli, J.J.D., Gross, J.J. (2009). "Bottom-up and top-down processes in emotion generation: common and distinct neural mechanisms." Psychological Science, 20, 1,322-1,331.
  • Drabant, E., McRae, K., Manuck, S., Hariri, A., Gross, J.J. (2009). "Individual differences in typical reappraisal use predict amygdala and prefrontal responses." Biological Psychiatry, 65, 367-373.