Tatiana Lau

Tatiana Lau

Experimental Psychologist


I am a lecturer (assistant professor) in the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Social groups and tribes provide immense benefits but incur great costs. Understanding how social group memberships drive actions and perception of the world may help us to best harness these byproducts of social groups. Broadly speaking, I am interested in (i) how we come to infer who is and is not a member of our social groups, and (ii) how social group information about others affects our judgments and behaviors towards others. To answer these questions, I have applied computational models and used functional neuroimaging (fMRI), in-lab, field, and online experiments.


  • Intergroup Processes
  • Social Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Judgment and Decision Making


  • Ph.D. in Psychology, 2019

    Harvard University

  • A.B. in Economics, 2009

    Princeton University


Inferring and Categorizing Across Social Groups

Humans form social coalitions in every society on earth, yet we know very little about how social group boundaries are learned and actively categorized. Previous research has examined these questions using explicitly labelled, static, single groups (e.g., team membership, race, etc.) and thus implying that group memberships are inferred via dyadic similarity to the agent. However, in one study using orthogonal group memberships, we find that active in-group categorization may instead rely on goal-oriented, domain-general networks in the brain rather than areas related to self-referential processes.

Social Category Information Biases Affective Forecasts

One part of interacting with others is being able to predict and anticipate their future emotional states—that is, make affective forecasts for them. For example, the way in which people classify interrogation methods as acceptable or as torture depends on their capacity to imagine the pain induced by such techniques. Typically, providing forecasters with more amounts of information can help them generate more accurate forecasts. Instead, we find that providing forecasters with targets’ group membership information causes them to make less accurate forecasts compared to when they have no such access to this information because they adjust in the wrong direction to account for this additional information.

Recent Publications

Social Structure Learning in Anterior Insula

Humans form social coalitions in every society, yet we know little about how we learn and represent social group boundaries. Here we …

Discovering Social Groups via Latent Structure Learning

Humans form social coalitions in every society on earth, yet we know very little about how social group boundaries are learned and …

fMRI Repetition Suppression During Generalized Social Categorization

Correctly identifying friends and foes is integral to successful group living. Here, we use repetition suppression to examine the …

Contact Me

  • tatiana.lau@rhul.ac.uk
  • Department of Psychology
    Royal Holloway, University of London
    TW20 0EX