Areas of Research
My research broadly investigates the links between allostasis (e.g., gut-brain axis, inflammation, interoception, stress) and social affective processes across the lifespan. In this vein, I study all sorts of questions about the mind-body connection like how peripheral physiology and interoceptive awareness impact different features of emotion and social cognition, how feeling hungry transforms into feeling hangry, why our beliefs about our bodies matter, and how the aging body and brain might impact everyday feelings.
What is the body's role in emotional experience?
How do peripheral and central (brain) representations of the body play a role in shaping our emotions? My research examines why some people have a more "embodied" experience of their emotions and what this means for the time course, intensity, and regulation of emotions and other affective states. I'm also interested in the nature of interoceptive (inner bodily) awareness and how such bodily individual differences impact affect-based decisions, social perceptions, and health behaviors. Understanding individual differences in autonomic reactivity, arousal, interoception, and bodily sensations could improve our scientific models linking the mind and body, while also generating new insights that benefit clinical and healthcare treatments.
MacCormack, J.K., & Lindquist, K.A. (2017). The constitutive role of the body in emotion: Schachter’s legacy for a psychological constructionist view of emotion. Emotion Review.
MacCormack, J. K., Armstrong-Carter, E. L., Gaudier-Diaz, M., Meltzer-Brody, S., Lindquist, K. A., & Muscatell, K. A. (in prep). Sympathetic blockade effects on psychological and physiological responses to acute stress.
How can physical states impact our feelings?
Have you ever found yourself angry, grumpy, or lashing out at a loved one - only to realize you're hungry? We've all had moments when our body's state - be that hunger, fatigue, or illness - has impacted our feelings and how we react to the world around us. My research seeks to clarify the neurobiological and psychological mechanisms underpinning why homeostatic fluctuations matter so much for our emotional and social lives. Less work examines metabolic and inflammatory processes as "affect inductions." As such, I'm increasingly fascinated by the gut-brain axis and how this axis, along with hunger / satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin interact with inflammation and other dimensions of psychophysiology to impact social affective outcomes.
MacCormack, J.K., & Lindquist, K.A. (2018). Feeling hangry? How hunger is conceptualized as emotion. Emotion.
MacCormack, J. K., & Muscatell, K. A. (invited). Metabolic hormones on the mind: A role for leptin and ghrelin in affect and social cognition. Social and Personality Psychology Compass.
Do beliefs and knowledge about the body matter for social affective skills & wellbeing?
Through personal experiences, upbringing, culture, and language, we learn to organize our feelings into different emotion categories, building a rich cache of knowledge and beliefs about emotions. My research focuses on the interoceptive domains of emotion knowledge - what we know about how the body feels during different emotions. For example, do people who are more skilled at interoception also think more about their bodily signals than other people? Do highly interoceptive people hold different beliefs about whether their bodily signals are valuable (vs. misleading), controllable (vs. difficult to regulate), or intense? How do caregivers and culture perhaps direct our attention to different interoceptive aspects of emotions and health?
MacCormack, J. K., Castro, V. L., Halberstadt, A. G., & Rogers, M. L. (submitted). Mothers’ interoceptive knowledge predicts third-grade children’s emotion regulation and social skills.
MacCormack, J.K., Bonar, A.S., & Lindquist, K.A. (in prep). Believing your body: Beliefs about the value, regulation, and intensity of bodily signals matter for interoceptive and emotional awareness.
Does healthy Physical aging change how the brain & Body shape social affective experiences & behaviors?
Relative to younger adults, many older adults experience changes in emotions such as improved wellbeing and emotion regulation. These emotional changes could be due to functional or structural changes in the autonomic nervous system and brain, leading older adults to experience less robust or intrusive bodily reactions during emotions and reduced interoceptive awareness of those bodily changes. My research compares age differences between older and younger adults' peripheral psychophysiology, interoceptive ability, and emotional experience. I'm also interested in what impact these physiological declines have on older adults' affect-based decisions, social perceptions, and health behaviors in the real world.
MacCormack, J.K., Henry, T.R., Davis, B.M., & Lindquist, K.A. (submitted). Aging bodies, aging emotions: Interoceptive differences in emotion representation and report across adulthood.
MacCormack, J. K., Stein, A. G., Satpute, A., Kang, J., & Lindquist, K. A. (in prep). Emotion in the aging brain: A neuroimaging meta-analysis of functional activation and connectivity differences in older vs. younger adult emotion.