Personality, Motivation, and Cognition Laboratory

at the Department of Psychology ,
Northwestern University

Scientific objectives:

  1. To gain an increased understanding of the ways in which personality and situational determinants of motivation combine to influence motivational states, and how these motivational states in turn affect cognitive processes to determine cognitive performance.
  2. To understand the structure of human personality at multiple levels of analysis, including within individual, between individual, and between self selected aggregates of individuals.
  3. To enhance the sharing of methods and knowledge of personality theory and research.


  1. Web based data collection using Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment (SAPA) techniques to examine the structure of large number of temperament, ability, and interest items from people around the world.
  2. Using other telemetric techniques to examine the structure of affect, cognition and desire as they relate to behavior within individuals across time.
  3. Experimental studies of the effect of various motivational manipulations on cognitive performance
  4. Development of open source programs and materials to facilitate these goals.

PMC Personnel


  • William Revelle

    Graduate Students

    Former graduate students involved with the PMC lab

  • 39) Elizabeth M. Dworak
  • 38) Lorien Elleman (2020) Beyond Traditional Measures of Personality with BISCUIT and BARE: A New Statistical Learning Technique and Behavioral Item Pool to Push Personality Psychology Forward
  • 37) Jason A. French (2018) The Relation of Scientific Attitudes to Traits, Abilities, and Interests
  • 36) Ashley Brown (2017) The Dynamics of Affect: Using {Newtonian} Mechanics, Reinforcement Sensitivity Theory, and the Cues-Tendencies-Actions Model to Simulate Individual Differences in Emotional Experience
  • 35)David Condon (2014) An organizational framework for the psychological individual differences: Integrating the affective, cognitive, and conative domains
  • 34) Joshua Wilt (2014) A new form and function for personality
  • 33) Kaimy Oehlberg, 2013, Temporal Analysis of Attentional Bias Assessment and Modification
  • 32)Ben Schalet, 2011, Intellect, Openness, and Absorption: An Exploratory Study of Structure and Links to Psychopathology.
  • 31)Iftah Yovel 2002, Anxiety-Related Attentional Biases in the Spatial and Temporal Dimensions
  • 30) Eshkol Rafaeli, 2001, Cognitive mediation and affect: Understanding affective synchrony 2001
  • 29) Erin Baehr, 2000, Circadian Phase-Delaying Effects of Nocturnal Exercise in Older and Young Adults
  • 28)Wendi Born, 1999 The Effect of Workshop Groups on Achievement Goals and Performance in Biology: An Outcome Evaluation
  • 27)Scott Acton, 1999 Interpersonal theory and circumplex structure
  • 26)Joanne Langly, 1997 Parental Loss in Childhood and Vulnerability Toward Expectation of Interpersonal Loss
  • 25) Douglas Billings, 1997 Individual Differences in Appetitive and Aversive Motivation Moderates Coping Efficacy in the Regulation of Daily Positive and Negative Affect
  • 24)Greg Rogers, 1997 Dysrhythmia and Dysphoria: A Biopsychosocial Model of Negative Mood States
  • 23) Kathy Nugent, 1996 Sustained attention deficits and their role in Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder
  • 22) Richard Gershon, 1996 The Effect of Individual Differences Variables on the Assessment of Ability for Computerized Adaptive Testing.
  • 21)Eva Gilboa, 1993 Duration of Emotions: Cognitive and Self-Report Measures
  • 20)Steve Sutton,1993 Personality and Appetitive Motivation: Individual Differences as the "Heart Beats to Reward"
  • 19) Peggy Weiler, 1992 Personality and Individual Differences in Sensitivity to Affectively Valenced Stimuli.
  • 18) Deb Loftus, 1991 Affect and Arousal in the study of Mood and Memory
  • 17) Angela Sabates, 1990 Test anxiety, feedback, and the speed/accuracy tradeoff
  • 16)Richard Zinbarg, 1989 Individual Differences In Instrumental Conditioning
  • 15)Mark Puchalski, 1988 Impulsivity, time of day and retention intervarl: interactive effects on cognitive performance
  • 14) Carolyn Tal, 1988 Intra- and Interhemispheric Dysfunction in Schizophrenia and the Affective Disorders.
  • 13) Joseph Tal , 1987 Personality Traits and Prediction: Utilizing Latent Trait Theory in an Attempt to Increase the Validity of Traits.
  • 12) Marjorie Leon, 1985 Anxiety and Analogical Reasoning: An Investigation of Error Types.
  • 11) James Onken Solution time measures of processing strategies and cognitive ability in the solution of geometric analogies
  • 10) Thomas Rocklin, 1981 The effects of Personality, Absolute Difficulty and Relative Difficulty on Motivation and Performance: A Test of the Dynamic Theory of Achievement Motivation
  • 9) Kristen Anderson, 1981 Impulsivity, Caffeine, and Performance: A Comparison of Explanations for the Yerkes-Dodson Effect
  • 8) Lisa Simon, 1980 Individual Differences in Diurnal Rhythms, Attention, and Memory
  • 7) Fred Kravitz, 1980 Short-Term and Attention Deficits in Chronic, Medicated Schizophrenics
  • 6) Elisha Klirs, 1980 Individual Differences in Person Perception: Passive Versus Motivated Assimilation
  • 5) Yildiz Ozyurt, 1978 Effects of Short-Term Deprivation and External Cues on Light and Heavy Smokers.
  • 4) Kirby Gilliland, 1976 The Interactive Effect of Introversion-Extraversion With Caffeine Induced Arousal On Verbal Performance
  • 3) Edward Michaels, 1976 The cumulative motivational effects of success and failure as a function of task difficulty and achievement motivation
  • 2) Julie Hanback, 1976 Hypochondriasis: An Investigation of the Role of Heightened Sensitivity and Arousal
  • 1) Robert Prentky, 1975 Effects of Introversion/Extraversion, Caffeine, and Provocation On Affective Aggressive Behavior

Former undergraduate honors students

Recent PMC Publications

The Personality Project

A continously growing set of pages meant to guide those interested in personality theory and research to the current personality research literature. Although some of the readings are available on-line, all should be available from most university libraries. Information about scholarly societies and graduate training programs in personality is provided for those interested in pursuing further study in personality theory. Course syllabi from personality theory and research courses are being added gradually. Links to active researchers and personality laboratories are added when found (and as time allows).

Computer Programs developed at the lab

Obviously the most visible program developed at the PMC lab is the psych package which has been released to Cran since 1997.

Other programs that have been developed as stand alone application programs for Macintosh computers. Source code in Lightspeed Pascal is also available. Publications that describe the algorithms or applications of these programs are listed.

ALPHA-VSS-ICLUST is a general purpose program for scale construction, hierarchical cluster analysis, and applying the Very Simple criterion. Some simple data manipulation options are also available. Hierarchical clustering is done using the alpha and beta criteria of cluster goodness. (Beta is an estimate of the worst split half reliability of a cluster and thus is an estimate of the general factor saturation of a test).
PMC-RT is a set of simple and choice reaction time procedures allowing for the measurement of rt as well as the assessment of changes in rt over time.

True false or multiple choice geometric analogies that vary in the number of elements and transformations applied per element. Accuracy and rt measures are taken. Elements may vary from 1-4 and transformations from 0-4.

Working-Memory .
Working memory for 2-10 digits following the true false verification of arithmetic problems. Speed and accuracy of the digit verification are reported, as are strict and lax memory scores.

A set of Pascal units that have been developed to allow for standardized programing of psychology experiments and data analysis.

Version of June 4, 2018.