Cognition, Emotion and Communication

Investigate the cognitive and emotional foundations of human communication across contexts and domains...


Our focus is on understanding of the cognitive and emotional foundations of human communication. Scholars are concerned with the development of general theories of and quantitative methodologies for communication research in the variety of domains which are often independent of the contextual boundaries of communication. This focus brings together people with a wide range of interests and specialties some of which include, but are not limited to, studies of influence, visual and verbal perception, information processing, affect, mediated message processing, person perception and inference making, psychophysiology, neuroscience, the human interface with communication technology, and the construction of cognitive models.


Communication Faculty:Seth Frey, Richard Huskey, Nicholas Palomares, Jorge Peña, Narine Yegiyan

Affiliated Faculty: Lisa Soederberg Miller (Human Development), Jeff Sherman (Personality and Social Psychology

Ongoing Research Programs

Our faculty are currently involved in the following research projects:

  • Motivational message processing
  • Emotion spillover effect
  • Memory narrowing and broadening effects
  • Emotional and cognitive reactivity to food
  • Motivational foundations of cyberbullying
  • Perception and website design
  • Social information processing
  • Social cognition and cooperation
  • Strategic behavior
  • Social influence and data science
  • Cognition and institutions
  • Uncertainty and goal understanding
  • Hierarchical representation and pursuit of goals
  • Using virtual reality and avatars to prime users’ identity
  • Memory and learning in virtual reality classrooms.

Relevant Courses

CMN 204: Biological Foundations of Communication
CMN 221: Communication and Cognition
CMN 259: Cognitive Approaches to Media
PSY 208: Physiological Psychology
PSY 208A: Fundamentals of Human Electrophysiology
PSY 209A: Introduction to Programming: Matlab
PSY 210: Fundamentals of Cognitive Neuroimaging
PSY 230: Cognitive Psychology
PSY 243: Social Cognition.

"What can I do with this?"

Expertise in the area of Cognition, Emotion and Communication is instrumental to careers within the fields of strategic communication within interpersonal, traditional mass media and on-line domains, as well as in persuasion, advertising, serious game development, and on-line social interaction. Students can work in academic, industry, or public sectors. Example career opportunities include tenure-track faculty, quantitative analyst, behavioral scientist,developmental learning specialist, neuromarketing researcher/consultant etc.


"When I arrived at Davis, I wasn't exactly sure how to approach the study of cyberbullying. However, taking courses with Nik and Narine resulted in exciting project proposals and valuable mentorship in my area and showed me how to apply fundamental cognitive and emotional foundations of human communication to my specific research context. With Nik I'm focusing on targets' cognitions, person perception and inference making within their bullying episodes, while extending fundamental communication theory. Narine and I are taking a physiological approach to examine information processing and emotion reactions of bullying messages with different levels of severity and subject matter, and we are confirming typologies of aggression which have never been studied physiologically. The exciting ideas, research opportunities, and professional relationships this program has facilitated are invaluable. Nik and Narine pointed me in the right direction and now I'm on a roll."

Skye Wingate
Class of 2019