Hanah Chapman joined the Psychology Department at Brooklyn College in 2013. After receiving her Ph.D. in affective neuroscience from the University of Toronto, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in social psychology at The Ohio State University. Chapman studies human emotion and social cognition, with a focus on disgust, morality, and their intersection. One line of work investigates the psychology of physical disgust—that is, disgust related to stimuli in the physical world, particularly disease vectors, contaminants and toxins. A second line of research examines emotional and cognitive contributions to morality, including the role of disgust in moral psychology and the broader influence of affective and cognitive processes on moral decision-making. Chapman uses behavioural methods from social, affective and cognitive psychology as well as neuroeconomics, extending her research to the brain and body using neuroimaging and psychophysiology.
When we talk about our emotions in everyday life, we use words like happy and sad, angry and afraid. In other words, our subjective experience of emotion seems to consist of a set of relatively distinct categories. Although this lay understanding of emotion is compelling, it has been fiercely debated among affective psychologists almost since the inception of the field. In particular, categorical models of emotion have been challenged by the notion that simpler dimensions—such as valence (positive/negative) and arousal (sleepy/awake)—more accurately describe the true structure of emotion. Dr. Hanah Chapman’s research addresses this foundational unsettled question in the psychology of emotions: what is the structure of human affect? The answer to this question is significant well beyond affective psychology, since emotion influences psychological processes at every level of the neural heirarchy, from early perceptual processing to complex decision making and social cognition.
Much of Dr. Chapman’s research uses disgust as a tool to test competing predictions from categorical and dimensional models of emotions. Specifically, she is interested in whether disgust has distinctive effects on moral judgment; how disgust affects cognitive processes such as attention and memory; and whether disgust has a unique expressive, bodily and neural signature. A new, more applied line of research seeks to understand how people can regulate maladaptive feelings of disgust. To pursue these research themes, Dr. Chapman uses behavioral methods from social, affective and cognitive psychology, as well as psychophysiology and fMRI.