Motivated cognition and action lab

The Lab

Ongoing Research

  • The benefits of goal conflict
  • Motivational and cognitive factors underlying engagement in risk behavior (risky sexual behavior, self-harm, substance use, drinking and driving)
  • The mechanisms underlying intermittent compared to daily smoking
  • People's failure to pursue goals that are important to them (e.g. exercising, eating a healthy diet)
  • The role of power and culture in self-regulation
  • The psychology of extreme behaviors


Wesley Starnes

Bachelor of Science in Psychology—University of Pittsburgh, 2017

Wesley is a Third-year Social Psychology doctoral student. His research interests focus broadly on goal systems theory and how individuals navigate the complicated world of choice through means-goal analysis. More specifically, he is interested in the principal of counterfinality and how it relates to individuals’ pursuit of different risk behaviors, such as smoking, drug use, or risky sexual behavior.

Tarek Bazzi

Tarek received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wayne State University in 2017. He is now a first year Social-Psychology doctoral student. After graduating from his undergraduate studies in 2017, he spent two years as a teacher at the primary and secondary levels before returning to Wayne State to continue his studies. With an interest in the concept of goal systems, he looks forward to developing his understanding of and contributions to the field in the years to come.

My Nguyen

My name is My Nguyen. I’m a graduate from Wayne State with a Bachelor of Psychology. I’m a research assistant. I plan on getting my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in either Neuropsychology or IO psychology.

Aaron Filmore

My name is Aaron Fillmore, I am a third-year undergraduate Psychology major. I hope to continue my education in graduate school to progress toward my ultimate goal of working in a clinical therapeutic setting. This will be my second school year as a research assistant. My involvement in the lab has expanded my understanding of the scientific research process.

Kevin Heslip

Kevin is an undergraduate student, currently working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He would like to study Neuroscience or Clinical Psychology in graduate school and research pharmacologically supported psychotherapy. For a career, he is planning to stay in academia as a professor or become a clinician. Working with human participants in this lab provides him with valuable experience for both goals. He also works in Dr. Scott E. Bowen’s lab researching toluene abuse in mice.

Moosa Khan

My name is Moosa Khan. I'm currently in my second year as an undergraduate psychology major with aspirations of getting a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. My interests are motivation and cognition as well as child psychology. This will be my third semester in the MCA lab.

Get involved

If you want to participate in any of our research projects, please contact us at

If you are interested to join the lab as a research assistance please contact Dr. Kopetz at