Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology


Social Science 395
Brendan O'Connor

Areas of Interest: How we remember the past (i.e., episodic memory) and imagine the future (i.e., episodic simulation) can inform the decisions we make to interact with others in the present. Broadly, I am interested in understanding the social functions of—and cognitive mechanisms underlying—imagination, memory, and future thinking. I am particularly interested in elucidating how imagining the future and remembering the past can facilitate social decision-making and economic behavior directed at benefiting the welfare of others. In doing so, an aim of my lab is to apply these findings to everyday moral behavior (e.g., charitable donations). My research program uses a variety of methods available to cognitive and social psychology. While my research primarily relies on behavioral manipulations and measures, my research also draws on non-invasive neural methods to bolster our understanding of mechanisms in addition to insights revealed using behavioral techniques.

Keywords: imagination, memory, future thinking, social decision-making, prosocial behavior, moral cognition