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Michael Varnum

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Associate Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1104
Biography

Michael Varnum uses insights from biology to help understand sources of cultural variation and causes of cultural change. In one line of research, he uses frameworks and tools from behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology, and econometrics to understand the causes of patterns of cultural change and to forecast future patterns of change (including changes in individualism, gender equality, contempt, and lyrical complexity). He also uses ecology as a way to understand patterns of cultural variation. In addition, he uses EEG and ERP to explore cultural variations in a range of psychological processes including empathy, emotion regulation, and mirror responses to others’ motor movements. Varnum heads the Culture and Ecology Laboratory at ASU. 

Professor Varnum received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Michigan in 2011. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Peking University, China, from 2011-2013. He joined ASU in 2013.

Education
  • Postdoctoral Fellow. Peking University, China, 2011-2013
  • Ph.D. Psychology, University of Michigan 2011
Research Interests

Dr. Varnum's research is focused on how culture shapes fundamental psychological processes ranging from empathy, to conformity, to self-construal. He takes the view that what constitutes "culture" is not only nationality or ethnicity but that social class and region also constitute forms of culture. His work is focused on understanding the origins of cultural differences and the mechanisms by which these patterns of thinking are learned and maintained. He is also exploring factors that drive cultural change. In his work he uses a broad variety of approaches ranging from analysis of secondary datasets (i.e. census data), to social psychological lab experiments, to neuroimaging.

Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
PSY 591Seminar
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 350Social Psychology
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
PSY 591Seminar
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 350Social Psychology
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 350Social Psychology
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
PSY 591Seminar
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 350Social Psychology
PSY 399Supervised Research
PSY 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
PSY 498Pro-Seminar