Irmak Olcaysoy Okten

Assistant Professor

Recruiting a graduate student for Fall of 2024

Irmak Olcaysoy Okten

Contact Information



Lehigh University, 2018

Research Interests

My research examines the processes of social cognition with a specific focus on forming and updating impressions and beliefs implicitly (unintentionally) and explicitly (intentionally). I am particularly interested in the effects of motivational factors (e.g., the motive to reduce uncertainty, the motive to preserve ideological convictions) on these processes. For example, my recent work has documented the role of misplaced certainty (the sense of knowing the unknowable) in preserving false beliefs and conducting uninformed and antisocial behaviors. My current research focuses on understanding people’s meta-perceptions of the obstacles that prevent them from recognizing and updating their biases. Among my future goals is to develop interventions targeting such meta-perceptions to reduce biases in interpersonal interactions.

Lab Description

My research broadly focuses on the processes of social cognition and motivation within the context of interpersonal interactions. Among my specific research areas are spontaneous (implicit) impression formation and updating, attitudes, bias reduction strategies, uncertainty reduction and misplaced certainty, political motives, and intellectual humility.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., Gollwitzer, A., & Oettingen, G. (2022). When knowledge is blinding: The dangers of knowing the future during uncertain societal events. Personality and Individual Differences. 195, 111606.

Gollwitzer, A., Olcaysoy Okten, I., Pizarro, A.O., & Oettingen, G. (2022). Discordant Knowing: A social cognitive structure underlying fanaticism. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.​ Advance online publication.

Gunsoy, C. & Olcaysoy Okten, I. (2022). Inferring goals and traits from behaviors: The role of culture, self-construal, and thinking style. ​Social Cognition. 40(2), 184-211.

Oettingen, G., Gollwitzer, A., Jung, J., & Olcaysoy Okten, I. (2022). Misplaced certainty in the context of conspiracy theories. Current Opinion in Psychology. 46, 101393.

Moskowitz, G. B., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Schneid, E. (2022). The updating of first impressions. In E. Balcetis & G. Moskowitz (Eds.), Handbook of impression formation: A social psychological approach. Routledge.

Hupbach, A., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Horn, P. (2022). Directed forgetting in the social domain: Forgetting behaviors but not inferred traits. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Advance online publication.

Moskowitz, G. B., Olcaysoy Okten, I., Sackett, A. (2021). Attributing inferred causes and explanations to behavior. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2020). Easy to make, hard to revise: Updating spontaneous trait inferences in the presence of trait -inconsistent information. Social Cognition, 38(6), 571-625.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., Gollwitzer, A., & Oettingen, G. (2020). Gender differences in preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Behavioral Science & Policy [Covid-19 Special Issue]. Online publication.

Gunsoy, C., Olcaysoy Okten, I., Cross, S. E., Saribay, S. A. (2020). Cultural differences in self-expression on Facebook as a manifestation of self-enhancement and uniqueness. A comparison of Facebook status updates in Turkey and the U.S.A. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 36(28), 1775-1782.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., Magerman, A., & Forbes, C. E. (2020). Behavioral and neural indices of trust formation in cross-race and same-race interactions. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 13(2), 100–125. 

Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2019). Spontaneous goal versus spontaneous trait inferences and explanations: How ideology shapes attributions. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 177-188.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., Schneid, E., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2019). On the updating of spontaneous impressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, 117(1), 1-25.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Saribay, S. A. (2018). Stereotype activation and self-regulation by conservatives and liberals in political encounters The Journal of Social Psychology, 158(4), 1-15.

Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Moskowitz, G. B. (2018). Goal vs. trait explanations: Causal attributions beyond a person-situation dichotomy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, 114(2), 211-229.

Moskowitz, G. B., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Gooch, C. M. (2017). Distortion in time perception as a result of concern about appearing biased. PloS one, 12(8), e0182241.

Moskowitz, G. B., & Olcaysoy Okten, I. (2017). Social cognition. In T. D., Nelson (Ed.), Getting grounded in social psychology (pp. 37-78). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Saribay, S. A., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Yilmaz, O. (2017). Resistance to change and opposition to equality dimensions of conservatism at personal and political levels. Turkish Psychological Articles [Special Issue on Political Psychology], 39, 24-41.

Moskowitz, G. B., & Olcaysoy Okten, I. (2016a). Spontaneous goal inference (SGI). Social and Personality Psychology Compass10(1), 64-80.

Moskowitz, G. B., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Gooch, C. M. (2015). On race and time. Psychological Science26(11), 1783-1794.

Saribay, S. A, Olcaysoy Okten, I., Yilmaz, O. (2015). Ideological orientations and psychological variables. In O. D. Gumus (Ed.), Political psychology (pp. 2-46). Ankara: Nobel Press.

Gunsoy, C., Cross, S. E., Saribay, S. A., Olcaysoy Okten, I., & Kurutaş, M. (2015). Would you post that picture and let your dad see it? Culture, honor, and Facebook. European Journal of Social Psychology45(3), 323-335.

Undergraduate Research

Explore the Directed Individual Study (DIS) opportunities below or learn more.