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Participant in a study of serious gaming

Motivation and Cognition Laboratory

Department of Psychology, University of Wyoming



Motivation and Cognition lab members

Our lab conducts research on the interplay of motivational and cognitive processes in human behavior. 

We examine the role of cognitive processes in self-regulation and achievement behavior. Examples include: construal; counterfactual thinking; planning; prospective memory; evaluative mindset.

Conversely, we are interested in the impact of motivational factors on decision making, learning, and performance. Examples include: academic preparation among stigmatized groups; defensive behavior in performance settings; intrinsic motivation and persistence; criticism and compassion. 

Not accepting students for Fall 2023



 Lab members


Principal Investigator

Dr. Sean McCrea

University of Wyoming
Department of Psychology, Dept. 3415
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071

Sean McCrea



C. J. Erion, M.S.

Research interests

Public shaming

Intergroup criticism

Photo of CJ Erion



Matthew Sherrin-Helm, B.A.


Research interests

Intergroup criticism and norms

Photo of Matt Sherrin-Helm



Mandy Alexandre, B.A.

Research interests

Academic achievement among members of vulnerable groups

Mandy Alexandre



Gabe Beratio, B.S., M.A.

Research interests

Counterfactual thinking

Gabe Beratio


Former Lab Members:

Alexandra Bitter, Ph.D., Point Loma Nazarene University 

Angel Munoz Gomez Andrade, Ph.D., Earlham College

Joshua Reynolds, Ph.D., University of Scranton

Richard Vann, Ph.D., Gonzaga University

Trent Wondra, Ph.D., Barry University                            


lab meeting

Research Activities


Current projects:

Self-handicapping in stigmatized groups


Mindset model of action phases

Defensiveness in groups

Public shaming


Recent Publications:

Bitter, A. N., Wondra, T., McCrea, S. M., Darzi, A., & Novak, V. D. (2022). Does it pay to play? Undermining effects of monetary reward and gamification in a web-based task. Technology, Mind, and Behavior.

Wondra, T. K., & McCrea, S. M. (2022). Collective self-doubt: does subjective SES predict behavioral self-handicapping tendency in college students?. Social Psychology of Education25(1), 129-167.

Thürmer, J. L., Stadler, J., & McCrea, S. M. (2022). Intergroup sensitivity and promoting sustainable consumption: Meat eaters reject vegans’ call for a plant-based diet. Sustainability14(3), 1741.

McCrea, S. M., Erion, C. J., & Thürmer, J. L. (2022). Why punish critical outgroup commenters? Social identity, general norms, and retribution. British Journal of Social Psychology61(3), 711-728.

Thürmer, J. L., & McCrea, S. M. (2022). On Efficient Mass-Media Messages During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Expertise and Expressed Social Identity. Technology, Mind, and Behavior3(1: Spring 2022), 52. 

Darzi, A., McCrea, S. M., & Novak, D. (2021). User Experience with Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment Methods for an Affective Exergame: Comparative Lab-Based Study. JMIR Serious Games, 9(2):e25771. 

Thuermer, J. L., & McCrea, S. M. (2021). Disentangling the Intergroup Sensitivity Effect: Defending the Ingroup or Enforcing General Norms? European Journal of Social Psychology. 

Reynolds, J. J., Estrada-Reynolds, V., Freng, S. & McCrea, S. M. (2021). Cheese it, it’s the Fuzz: Testing the Belief that Guilt Predicts Police Avoidance. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 16, 84-106. 

Darzi, A., Wondra, T., McCrea, S. M., & Novak, D. (2019). Classification of Multiple Psychological Dimensions in Computer Game Players Using Physiology, Performance and Personality Characteristics. Frontiers in Neuroscience, Neural Technology.

Reynolds, J.J., Estrada-Reynolds, V.C., Freng, S., & McCrea, S.M. (2019). Investigator beliefs of homicide crime scene characteristics. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 15, 60-85. 

Thuermer, J. L., McCrea, S. M., & McIntyre, B. (2019). Motivated collective defensiveness: Group members prioritize counter-arguing over getting their work done. Social Psychological & Personality Science, 10, 382-392.

Reynolds, J. J.*, & McCrea, S.M. (2019). Environmental constraints on the functionality of inhibitory self-control: Sometimes you have to eat the donut. Self and Identity, 18, 60-86. 

Grant Activity:

2017-2020  A Kinder, Gentler Technology: Enhancing Human-Machine Symbiosis Using Adaptive, Personalized Affect-Aware Systems, PI Domen Novak (UW), NSF 1717705

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)


External Research Collaborators:

Dr. Peter M. Gollwitzer, New York University; University of Konstanz (Germany)

Dr. Edward R. Hirt, Indiana University

Dr. Lukas Thuermer, Paris Lodron University, Salzburg (Austria)

Dr. Frank Wieber, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland)

Contact Us

Sean McCrea, Ph.D.

University of Wyoming

Department of Psychology

Department 3415

Laramie , WY 82071

Fax: 307 -766-2926


1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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