Mollie Ruben wins Outstanding Graduate Student Award

Congratulations to Mollie Ruben, a fifth-year graduate student in our Social/Personality area, who was recently honored with the University’s Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

The Outstanding Graduate Student Awards are presented annually by the Graduate and Student Government and the Office of the Provost, to honor exceptional students for their significant contributions and accomplishments in teaching, research, community service, or experiential learning.  The awards were established to confer honor upon individuals, who, by their contributions to their field and the community, have brought recognition to themselves and the University. They are highly competitive, and winners are given both a certificate and a monetary award. Mollie received the Research Award in Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences

In order to be considered for the Research Award, students must demonstrate ability to conduct original research at Northeastern University, evidence of scholarly contributions to literature, and research effectiveness in a manner that substantially exceeds the normal expectations for a graduate student.

Mollie’s research for which she was recognized focuses on nonverbal communication and interpersonal sensitivity. She describes her work as follows:

We make both quick and deliberate judgments of others on a daily basis. What is a stranger’s gender, race, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or even sexual orientation? We also make inferences about what other people are thinking or feeling, what their current mood, emotion, or state is, and what their dispositions or traits are from brief slices of behavior. How a stranger or acquaintance responds in one situation guides our larger social categorization judgments and trait judgments of them. These judgments are for the most part adaptive because they allow us to quickly categorize people or infer characteristics about others, making sense of the world, without much cognitive strain or intention, and more likely than not, they tend to guide our accurate judgments of others, as accuracy on these types of judgments tends to be above guessing levels.

My general research interests involve the accurate judgment of others and what characteristics and personality traits make a judge more or less accurate. More specifically, I am interested in judgments of others’ affect, sexual orientation, personality, and physical pain and how nonverbal behaviors play a crucial role in accurately judging another person. 

I am also interested in patients’ experiences of physical pain and how psychosocial factors can impact and possibly ameliorate physical pain. Specifically, I research how patients’ perception of physical pain can be altered through provider communication and also accuracy at judging physical pain and affective experience. 

Well done, Mollie!