Kateri McRae

Associate Professor

  • Faculty
  • Department of Psychology
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

What I do

My goal is to foster student curiosity, passion and excitement by introducing them to the ways the scientific method can be applied to understand seemingly intangible phenomena, like human emotion.

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 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.


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Arizona, 2007
  • MA, Psychology, University of Arizona, 2004
  • BA, Human Biology and Drama, Stanford University, 2002

Professional Affiliations

  • Social and Affective Neuroscience Society


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).

Key Projects

  • CAREER: The Effects of Process Facilitation on Emotion Regulation
  • Investigating the neural systems that support the beneficial effects of positive emotion on stress regulation.
  • Reproducibility Project: Psychology
  • Using Positive Reappraisal to COunter Negative Emotion: Its Neural Mechanisms and Role in Resilience


The Actor's Mind


  • Faculty Adviser of the Year, Academic Advising
  • Paper of the Year, Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Preregistration Challenge Prize, Center for Open Science