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Department of Psychology|College of Arts & Sciences

Sean McCreaSean McCrea

Associate Professor

Motivation, self, social cognition, judgment

Social Psychology


Ph.D., Indiana University 2002

B.A., Bucknell University 1996 • (307) 766-6149 • Bio Sciences Bldg 130

Accepting graduate students for 2016                         

Academic positions

2013-present Associate Professor, University of Wyoming

2009-2013 Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming

2003-2009 Assistant Professor for Motivational and Social psychology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany


Research Interests

My current research interests broadly focus on the interplay of motivational and cognitive processes. Our laboratory is currently focusing on defensive behaviors in a variety of contexts, particularly self-handicapping behavior and protecting group identity. In addition, our laboratory is investigating the self-regulation and self-control of health behaviors across different phases of goal pursuit. Other current areas of research interest include judgment and decision making, evolutionary psychology and law, and marketing.



* Research Methods in Psychology

* Motivation

* Advanced Social Psychology

* Introduction to Research

* Self-regulation

Press Appearances


  * New York Times (Jan. 6, 2009)



  * Newsweek Online (Dec. 10, 2008)

  * The Economist (Jan 24th, 2009 Edition)

  * The New York Times (Jan. 31, 2009)

  * Wissenschaft Aktuell (Jan. 13, 2009)

  * Deutsche Welle (radio interview; Jan. 21, 2009)



Book Chapters and Invited Papers

Tyser, M. P., & McCrea, S. M. (2012). Behavioral consequences of counterfactual thinking: A self-evaluation model. In J. N. Franco & A. E. Svensgarad (Ed.). Handbook on Psychology of Motivation: New Research. Hauppuage, NY: Nova Science.

Gollwitzer, P. M., Wieber, F., Myers, A. L., & McCrea, S. M. (2010). How to maximize implementation intention effects? In C. R. Agnew, D. E. Carlston, W. G. Graziano, J. R. Kelly (Eds), Then a miracle occurs: Focusing on behavior in social psychological theory and research (pp. 137-161). New York: Oxford Press.

McCrea, S. M., Myers, A. L., & Hirt, E. R. (2009). Self-handicapping as an anticipatory self-protection strategy. In E. P. Lamont (Ed.). Social Psychology: New Research. (pp. 31-53). Hauppuage, NY: Nova Science.


Journal Articles

Freng, S., Schweitzer, K., & McCrea, S. M. (in press). Reversal of fortune: When does increased distance from an initial negligent act make one more blameworthy? Psychiatry, Psychology and Law.

McCrea, S. M., Penningroth, S. L., & Radakovich, M. P. (2015). Implementation intentions forge a strong cue-response link and boost prospective memory performance. Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 27, 12-26.

Reynolds, J. J., & McCrea, S. M. (2015) Exploitative and deceptive resource acquisition strategies: The role of life history strategy and life history contingencies. Evolutionary Psychology, 13, 1474704915593664

Tyser, J., Scott, W. D., Readdy, T. R., & McCrea, S. M. (2014). The role of goal representations, cultural identity, and dispositional optimism in the depressive experiences of American Indian youth from a Northern Plains tribe, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 329-342.

Myers, A. M.*, McCrea, S. M., & Tyser, M. P.* (2014). The role of thought-content and mood in the preparative benefits of upward counterfactual thinking. Motivation and Emotion, 38, 166-182. [link to preprint]

Thuermer, J. L., McCrea, S. M., & Gollwitzer, P. G. (2013). Regulating self-defensiveness: If-then plans prevent claiming and creating performance handicaps. Motivation and Emotion,37,712-725. [link to preprint]

Tyser, M. P., McCrea, S. M., & Knuepfer, K. (2012). Pursuing perfection or pursuing protection? Self-evaluation concerns and the motivational consequences of counterfactual thinking. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 372-382. [preprint pdf]

McCrea, S. M., & Flamm, A. (2012). Dysfunctional anticipatory thoughts and the self-handicapping strategy. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 72-81. [preprint pdf]

McCrea, S. M., Wieber, F., & Myers, A. L. (2012). Construal level mind-sets moderate self- and social stereotyping, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 51-68. [preprint pdf]

Nunez, N., McCrea, S. M., & Culhane, S. E. (2011). Jury decision making research: Are Researchers Focusing on the Mouse and Not the Elephant in the Room? Behavioral Sciences and Law, 29, 439-451. [preprint pdf]

McCrea, S. M., & Hirt, E. R. (2011). Limitations on the substitutability of self-protective processes: Self-handicapping is not reduced by related-domain self-affirmations. Social Psychology, 42, 9-18. [preprint pdf]


Recent Presentations

Ordiway, C. & McCrea, S. M. (May 2014). To be presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, San Francisco, CA.

Reynolds, J. & McCrea, S. M. (Jan 2014). Construal level theory and procrastination: Abstract construal and prioritization of self-control tasks. Presented at the annual meetion of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, Texas.

McCrea, S. M., & Crawford, M. T. (Jan 2014). Evidence for the spontaneous activation of worries among chronic self-handicappers. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, Texas.

McCrea, S. M., Penningroth, S. L., & Tyser, M. P. (May 2013). Intention strategies: Implementation intentions uniquely boost prospective memory performance. To be presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, Illinois.

Schweitzer, K., Freng, S., & McCrea, S. M. (March 2013). Reversing the proximity effect in civil trials. To be presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychology and Law Society, Portland, Oregon.


Research Grants

2015 Treatment noncompliance as a form of self-handicapping behavior, University of Wyoming (PI)

2014 Overcoming collective defensiveness with implementation intentions, University of Konstanz (Collaboration with PI Dr. Lukas Thuermer, University of Konstanz)

Research Lab

Motivation and Cognition Lab

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