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Arie W. Kruglanski

Director of the Motivated Cognition Lab

Graduate Student


Molly Ellenberg, Lab Manager

Molly Ellenberg earned a B.S. in Psychology with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology from UC San Diego and an M.A. in Forensic Psychology from the George Washington University. Her research focuses primarily on violent extremism, uncertainty, and significance. In addition to her studies at UMD and work in the Motivated Cognition Lab, Molly is also a research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Graduate Student


Adam Factor

Adam received his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology from UC Berkeley, and is now a fourth year graduate student working with Dr. Arie Kruglanski. Before joining the lab, Adam spent some time at the Department of Veterans Affairs in healthcare management research, where his projects focused on emotional labor, burnout, and organizational change. At the Lab, he is pursuing research questions related to motivation, extremism, and gun violence. Outside the lab, Adam consults for a nonprofit group examining the impact of mindfulness in schools.

Affiliated Members

Former Post-Doc


Erica Molinario, PhD

Erica Molinario is an Assistant Professor at the Florida Gulf Coast University. She received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from La Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) in 2015. Dr. Molinario’s main research is on motivation, human goals, groups and intergroup processes. Moreover, her work focuses on understanding human behaviors, such as pro-environmental actions, violent and benevolent extremism, and political attitudes and activism. At the University of Maryland, she is involved in several funded projects including refugees in the Middle East and Europe.

Former Graduate Student


Jessica Fernandez, PhD

Jess recently completed the SDOS program as a graduate student at the Motivated Cognition Lab.  She is now working as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, on Minority Health, and Health Disparities. Her research interests include the influence of motivational goals and social environment on health decision making and wellbeing. 

Former Graduate Student


Catalina E. Kopetz, PhD

Graduate University of Maryland, 2007. Catalina Kopetz is Associate Professor of Psychology at Wayne State University. Her research focuses on implications of goal pursuit and management of goals for risk taking behaviors  (overeating, substance use, risky sexual behavior, and drunk driving). She published in top journals in social and clinical psychology, prevention sciences, psychopharmacology, behavioral and brain sciences, as well as Perspectives in Psychological Science, Current Directions in Psychological Science, and Psychological Review. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, NIDA, NCI, and NIAAA.

Former Post-Doc


Ewa Szumowska, PhD

Ewa Szumowska, Ph.D. is currently working at the Social Psychology Unit at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. She is also a member of the Center for Social Cognitive Studies Krakow. Ewa was a post-doc at the Motivated Cognition Lab from 2018 to 2019. Her research interests are focused on motivation and goal-directed action, epistemic motivation, information processing, multitasking and multiple goal pursuit, and extremism.

Former Visitor


Daniela Di Santo, PhD

Daniela Di Santo is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome (Italy), where she earned her doctoral degree in Social Psychology. She visited the Motivated Cognition Lab in 2016. Her work mainly focuses on the research areas of self-regulation, epistemic motivation, and cognitive inconsistency.

Former Post-Doc


Katarzyna Jasko, PhD

Katarzyna Jasko, a former post-doc at the motivated cognition lab, is currently an associate professor at the Institute of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Katarzyna studies political activism and social movements as well as the psychology of refugees. 

Former Post-Doc


David Webber, PhD

David Webber, a former post-doc at the motivated cognition lab, is currently an assistant professor at the Department of Security Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. David studies terrorism (international and domestic) as well as the psychology of refugees.

Former Post-Doc


Maxim Milyavsky, PhD

Maxim currently works as a senior lecturer at the Ono Academic College. His research focuses on agency and prosocial behavior. Maxim earned his Phd from the Hebrew University. He wrote his thesis on the role of motivation in intuitive decision-making under the supervision of Ran Hassin and Yaacov Schul. As a postdoctoral researcher in Kruglanski’s Motivated Cognition Lab, he conducted research on topics such as arrogance, need for closure, cognitive energetics, attitudes and behavior, emotion regulation, and goal systems theory.

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