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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


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 the role of mental simulation in planning and performance, particularly in the context of self-protective behaviors such as self-handicapping. We also conduct research on the motivational bases for self-handicapping and personality differences in the use of this strategy. In addition, our laboratory is investigating the implications of the mental representation of tasks on procrastination.

Other areas of research and interest include biases in counterfactual thinking and regret, ingroup favoritism, planning and goal pursuit, and judgment and decision making.



* 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

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]

Hirt, E. R., & McCrea, S. M. (2009). Man smart, woman smarter?: Getting to the root of gender differences in self-handicapping. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3, 260-274. Published Version

McCrea, S. M., & Hirt, E. R. (2009). Match madness: Probability matching in predictions of the NCAA basketball tournament. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39, 2809-2839. [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.

Tyser, M. P., & McCrea, S. M. (May 2012). Self-handicapping and self-regulation: Effects of depletion and awareness. Presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, Illinois.

McCrea, S. M. (Apr 2012). Don't look back: Motivational costs of "if only..." thinking? Invited talk at Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Freng, S., McCrea, S. M., & Wieber, F. (Jan 2012). Stereotyping primes abstract representation and global processing style. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Diego, California.

McCrea, S. M., & Tyser, M. P. (Jan 2012). It's in the way that you use it: Counterfactual thinking promotes both task engagement and disengagement. Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Diego, California.

Jaconis, M., Hartung, C. M., & McCrea, S. M. (Nov 2011). Relations among ADHD, sex, and self-handicapping. Presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Toronto, Canada.


Research Grants

2009-2013 A self-evaluation model of upward counterfactual thinking, German Science Foundation (DFG) Grant MC 68/2-1.

2009 The effects of construal on procrastination, CoPI with Prof. Nira Liberman (Tel Aviv University), Kurt Lion Foundation Research Grant

2005-2008 Planning to Fail: Mental Simulation and Self-handicapping, German Science Foundation (DFG) Grant MC 68/1-1.


Research Lab

Motivation and Cognition Lab

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