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Stephanie Preston, Ph.D.
U-M Primary Appointment
Stephanie D. Preston is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She has an MA and PhD in behavioral neuroscience from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied mechanisms of decision making in food-storing animals. Subsequent to this, she held a post-doctoral fellowship at the Department of Neurology at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, where she used functional neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and behavioral research to understand how emotions influence decision making. Dr. Preston’s research is highly interdisciplinary, looking across model systems and levels of analysis with a variety of tools to investigate evolved, proximate mechanisms for complex behaviors. One line of her research looks at the mechanisms of empathy and altruism, focusing on perception-action mechanisms for feeling others’ state and the impact of evolved caregiving mechanisms on altruism. Another line of work examines mechanisms for making decisions about resources, particularly how people decide to acquire and discard material goods, including issues of consumption, consumerism, compulsive hoarding and proenvironmental behavior. All research aims to develop a model of the ultimate and proximate mechanism for complex human behaviors grounded in research from comparative and biological models in animals.