Justin J. Couchman, Ph.D.
Justin J. Couchman, Associate Professor of Psychology
206 Teel Hall
B.A. Philosophy (Mathematics minor), State University of New York at Fredonia
M.A. Psychology, University at Buffalo
Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology, University at Buffalo
Areas of Expertise
- Cognitive psychology
- Comparative psychology
- Metacognition & Self-agency
- Psy100: General Psychology
- Psy200: Research Design & Analysis I
- Psy201: Research Design & Analysis II
- Psy291: Cross-cultural Psychology
- Psy340: Cognitive Psychology
- Psy350: Animal Behavior & Cognition
- Psy360: Sensation & Perception
- Psy397: Advanced Lab
- Psy406: Senior Seminar in Psychology
- Syn320: Self-awareness
Publications and Research
I enjoy teaching General Psychology because it exposes students to new ideas and perspectives that go beyond “common sense” explanations. I also teach Cognitive Psychology, where we delve deeper into the core functions of the mind and see how we solve problems, understand language, and make decisions. In Cross-cultural Psychology we look at many biases that affect our thinking, especially those that we don’t consciously notice. In the past I have taught Sensation & Perception, which focuses on how the mind creates color, sound, and other experiences that we often take for granted. In Animal Behavior & Cognition we explore how our minds evolved and what abilities other animals have demonstrated.
Research Methods and Advanced Lab allow students to put all of that into practice by creating their own hypotheses and doing hands-on research to discover new things. My Metacognition senior seminar and my philosophy/psychology synthesis course in Self-awareness challenges students to take all the knowledge and experiences they have acquired and build a personal worldview that will benefit them in their life and career. In every class you will learn about things you never noticed before, but once you know you’ll never see the world the same way again
Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of how we process information and make decisions. Some mental processes that cognitive psychologists investigate include attention, perception, learning, memory, categorization, problem solving and language. Because cognitive psychology looks at some of the most basic aspects of human thinking, our research findings are often applied to other areas, including clinical, social, developmental and educational psychology. We have a heavy emphasis on research, usually in the form of behavioral or physiological experiments.
I research a wide variety of things, mostly involving student-led experiments. Some projects include:
Metacognition in Education
My main research program involves metacognition, or thinking about thinking. Recently we looked at metacognitive performance during college exams in an attempt to help students improve their learning, memory, and judgments of their own knowledge. This work also attempts to correct some common fallacies about how you should study, take exams, and make decisions in everyday life.
One of the most noticeable aspects of our experience is the feeling that we sometimes cause things to happen. This common feeling of control is often taken for granted, but it is in fact the result of a variety of interesting cognitive and neurological processes that range from simple muscle movements all the way up to conscious cognitive awareness. We investigate how self-agency, a special type of metacognitive self-awareness, evolved and how it can be altered, tricked or improved. Usually we do this using virtual or augmented reality programs to help people understand self-control in different mental states and environments.
Previous research has shown that dogs have a variety of positive effects on the human brain and on cognitive processes. My work uses physiological measures paired with behavioral tasks to determine whether sophisticated mental processes can be improved through therapy dog interventions.
In the past I’ve explored how humans and animals monitor our own thoughts, and how we use information about our thought processes to make better decisions. I did experiments with monkeys at Georgia State University in order to see how their metacognitive abilities compare to adult humans, children and people with disabilities.
- Couchman, J. J., Miller, N., Zmuda, S. J., Feather, K., & Schwartzmeyer, T. (2016). The instinct fallacy: The metacognition of answering and revising during college exams. Metacognition & Learning, 11(2), 171-185. Click here for a news story about this article.
- Couchman, J. J. (2015) Humans and monkeys distinguish between self-generated, opposing, and random actions. Animal Cognition, 18(1), 231-238. Click here for a news story about this article.
- Smith, J. D., Couchman, J. J., & Beran, M. J. (2014). Animal metacognition: A tale of two comparative psychologies, Journal of Comparative Psychology, 128(2), 115-131.
- Couchman, J. J., Beran, M. J., Coutinho, M. V. C., Boomer, J., Zakrzewski, A., Church, B., & Smith, J. D. (2012). Do actions speak louder than words? A comparative perspective on implicit versus explicit meta-cognition and theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 30, 210-221.
- Smith, J. D., Couchman, J. J., & Beran, M. J. (2012) The highs and lows of theoretical interpretation in animal-metacognition research. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 397, 1297-1309. Click here for a news story about this article.
- Couchman, J. J. (2012). Self-agency in rhesus monkeys. Biology Letters, 8, 39-41. Click here for a news story about this article.
- Birster, G. A., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2017). Self-efficacy and self-control in simulated partial seizures. Poster presented at the 2nd Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.
- Wilson, N., Bernadyn, T., Feigenson, K. A., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2017). Virtual reality experiences: Physiological and psychological effects. Poster presented at the 2nd Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, Austria.
- Giannone, A., & Couchman, J. J. (May, 2016). Using therapy dogs to encourage executive processing in children. Poster presented at the 28th Annual Convention of the Association for Psychology Science, Chicago, IL.
- Birster, G., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2016). Literacy priming and political party affiliation’s effect on social attitudes. Poster presented at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.
- Isgate, S., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2016). Breed and pose: What makes a dog adoptable? Poster presented at the 87thAnnual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.
- Couchman, J. J., & Vasko, J. (August, 2015). Metacognition during difficult exams: Can it be improved? Presented at the 16thEuropean Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, Cyprus University of Technology, Limassol, Cyprus.
- Couchman, J. J., Gee, N. R., & Weidner, A. (July, 2015). Using therapy dog attachment to test perspective-taking in children. Presented at the 24th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Anthrozoology, Saratoga Springs, NY.
- Ehlinger, J. G., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2015). Watching vs. doing: The experience of self-agency mediates visual tracking. Poster presented at the 1st Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- Froehlich, M., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2015). Distortion and distraction during cognitive control. Poster presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.
- Weidner, A., & Couchman, J. J. (March, 2015). The effect of therapy dogs on attachment and theory of mind in children. Poster presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.
Couchman, J. J., Miller, N. E., & Zmuda, S. J. (September, 2014). Metacognition and the first-instinct fallacy in college exams. Presented at the 6th Annual European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Boğaziçi Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey.