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Ryan Carlson

Ryan CarlsonEmail | Personal Website


PhD, Social Psychology, Yale University
BA, Psychology, Simon Fraser University


Ryan is a Principal Researcher working with Ayelet Fishbach. He received his PhD in Social Psychology from Yale University, where he worked primarily with Molly Crockett. Before his graduate studies, Ryan worked as a Research Assistant in Jamil Zaki's lab at Stanford University, and earned his BA (Hons.) in Psychology at Simon Fraser University in Canada.


Ryan's research examines how we experience motivation as 'insiders' and as 'outsiders', and how these two perspectives interact. People have both an inside view how their own motives operate in social life, but also an outside view of what they think motivates other people around them, and people in general. Ryan's recent work leverages these two perspectives to study topics such as introspective accuracy, motivated cognition, and the nature of altruism and selfishness. In examining these topics, Ryan's research uses a blend of theory and methods from social psychology, cognitive science, and behavioral science.


Carlson, R. W., Zoh, Y., Morris, A., & Crockett, M. J. (under review). Quantifying accuracy and bias in motive introspection. PsyArXiv.

Carlson, R. W., Bigman, Y. E., Gray, K., Ferguson, M. J., & Crockett, M. J. (2022). How inferred motives shape moral judgements. Nature Reviews Psychology, 1(8), 468-478.

Melnikoff, D. E., Carlson, R. W., & Stillman, P. E. (2022). A computational theory of the subjective experience of flow. Nature communications, 13(1), 2252.

Carlson, R. W., Adkins, C., Crockett, M. J., & Clark, M. S. (2022). Psychological selfishness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17(5), 1359-1380.

Carlson, R. W., Maréchal, M. A., Oud, B., Fehr, E., & Crockett, M. J. (2020). Motivated misremembering of selfish decisions. Nature communications, 11(1), 2100.