Catalina Kopetz, PhD

Associate Professor

Phone: (313) 577-0962
Fax: (313) 577-7636

Department of Psychology
5057 Woodward Ave., 7th Floor
Detroit, MI 48202

My Research

My research focuses on self-regulation phenomena from the perspective of motivation as cognition. I am particularly interested in identifying and understanding the mechanisms that underlie goal pursuit and the management of multiple goals and goal conflict. My research investigates these basic mechanisms that govern human action in general, and in particular it attempts to understand their functioning in health-relevant judgment and behavior (e.g. dieting, substance use, HIV risk behavior).

In several projects, my current research attempts to address the following questions:

  • Why do people fail to pursue goals that are important for them (e.g. exercising more often, maintaining a healthy diet)?
  • How do people deal with goal conflicts?
  • Why do people continue to engage in health-compromising behaviors (HIV risk-behavior, drunk driving, smoking) despite their best intentions not to do so?
  • Could so-called “impulsive” behaviors (e.g. substance use, self-harm) be in fact strategic goal-pursuit whereby such behaviors represent means to individual’s chronic and momentary goals?
  • How does social context (social rejection, early psycho-social deprivation) may influence individual’s vulnerability to risk behavior?
  • How can we use basic self-regulation principles to design and implement prevention and intervention strategies?
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Find more about my research on:

Google Scholar
Research Gate
Social Psychology Network


  • In the media

    A Prescription for Change
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    Are You Caving to a Craving?
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    Can Too Much Information Increase the Risk of Drunk Driving
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    When Does Self-Defeat Equal Success?
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  • Papers

    Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., MacPherson, L., & Lejuez, C. W., Nelson, C. A., Zeanah, C. H., & Fox, N. (2018). Early psychosocial deprivation and adolescent risk-taking: The role of motivation and executive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; 10.1037/xge0000486.

    Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., Starnes, W., & Dedvukaj, J. (2018). It’s risky, therefore I do it: Counterfinality as a source of perceived instrumentality of risk behavior as means to goals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology;

    Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., Briskin, J. L. (2018). Another look at impulsivity: Could impulsive behavior represent strategic goal pursuit? Social and Personality Psychology Compass; e12385.

  • Grants

    Dr. Kopetz receives a grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the self-regulatory mechanisms underlying daily compared to intermittent smoking

  • Academic Year

    Dr. Kopetz is accepting graduate students for the current year!


Dr. Kopetz is accepting graduate students for the current year!


Complete list of publications is available below.


Teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Favorite Quote

“ Good research starts with and is driven by hypothesis not just data.”

Author Unknown