Ohio University

Nicholas Sosa

Nicholas Sosa Profile Picture
Graduate Student

Year of Entry

Fall 2014


Experimental Social Psychology

Research Interests

Mr. Sosa's research interests broadly focus on meaning-making after uncertainty. Specifically, he is interested in comparing direct and indirect methods of restoring meaning following threats to meaning. Nicholas also investigate how counterfactual thoughts may help people find meaning after close-calls or near-death experiences. Finally, he is interested in how people’s worldviews (i.e., justice beliefs & determinism beliefs) or superstitions about their environment may help them find meaning during uncertain experiences.

Curriculum Vitae

Nicholas Eric Sosa
Department of Psychology
Ohio University
200 Porter Hall
Athens, OH 45701


Ohio University, Athens, OH, Overall GPA: 4.0, Pursuing Doctorate in Experimental Psychology, Expected, May 2020

Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia , PA, Overall GPA: 4.0, Pursued Masters of Science in Experimental Psychology, Transferred, 2014

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Overall GPA: 3.9, Concentration in Communication, Psychology GPA: 3.9, Received, 05/2013 Summa cum laude

Publications in Preparation

The Need-Satisfaction framework of Self-Esteem: Self-esteem as a Monitor and Motivator of Need Satisfaction

Summary: Alongside my advisor, Dr. Jennifer Howell, we present a new perspective on the function of self-esteem. We base the framework of our model in classic motivation literature and propose that self-esteem serves to monitor and motivate the pursuit of a variety of psychological needs: existential, safety, belongingness, self-efficacy, and meaning needs.

Target Journal: Psychological Bulletin

Book Chapter in Preparation


Summary: Alongside Dr. Kimberly Rios, I am co-authoring on a book chapter for the SAGE Encyclopedia of Political Behavior on assimilation ideology and diversity policies. The chapter discusses the origins of assimilation research, predictors of assimilation, and current perspectives on the impact of assimilation ideology and endorsing anti-diversity political policies.


Sosa, N., Markman, S. G. (2016, January). The (Causal) Complexity of Close Calls: Counterfactual thinking moderates the effect of causal complexity on equifinal thoughts. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, San Diego, CA.

Sosa, N., Chapman, J. (2014, April). Otherworldly Justice: Belief in a Just World as a Mediator and Moderator of Counterfactual Thinking on Fate Reasoning. Poster presented at Sigma Xi, Philadelphia, PA.

Sosa, N., Young, S. G. (2014, February). Inclusion of Other in Self Extends Self-Enhancement: Further Evidence. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, TX.

Sosa, N., Young, S. G. (2013, March). From Self to Social Enhancement: Inclusion of Other in Self Extends Better-than-average effects. Poster presented at Eastern Psychological Association, New York, NY.

Sosa, N., Young, S. G. (2013, January). Need for Cognition Modulates Evaluative Consequences of Fluency. Poster presented at Society for Personality and Social Psychology, New Orleans, LA.

Sosa, N., Granot, Y., Balcetis, E. (2012, July). That Would Never Be Me: Perspective-Taking and Negative Victim Evaluations. Research presented at New York University SPAM Lab Conference, New York, NY.

Sosa, N., Young, S. G. (2011, May). Consensus: Gradual Increment or Spike. Poster presented at Fairleigh Dickinson University Student Research Day, Teaneck, NJ.

Research Experience

Ohio University

Graduate Assistant, Fall 2014-present

Imagination and Mental Simulation Lab

Responsibilities: As a graduate student in pursuit of a doctoral degree in experimental psychology, I have the responsibility of assisting professors with teaching in addition to conducting my own independent research. Most of the research involves the investigation of how counterfactual thinking impacts people’s affective states, goal-pursuit, and causal inferences. Though, I have a broad interest in researching various types of imagination domains, including nostalgic reflection and the imagination of future selves.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Keith Markman


Central Investigations, Fall 2014-present

Counterfactual Thinking, Causal Complexity, & Equifinality

Summary: Past research has argued that causal complexity and equifinality are related in that they both highlight the idea that multiple paths may lead to the same outcome. This reasoning is contradictory to a counterfactual account of causal inference which suggests that mutating one step in a path may lead to a very different outcome. To reconcile these differing claims, the current investigation, thus, hypothesized that counterfactual thinking and causal complexity are positively related because they both highlight a satisfying sense of causal coherence, while causal complexity and equifinality are negatively related.

Presentation: This project was presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in San Diego.

Nostalgia and Behavior

Summary: Past research has argued that nostalgia has overly positive effects on people’s psychological states. The current investigation is concerned with whether nostalgia produces positive or negative effects on performance through an achievement task. Specifically, it is hypothesized that people who reflect nostalgically about a past memory will show increased persistence and performance on an achievement task than people who reflect on an ordinary memory.

Uncertainty and Meaning Compensation

Summary: Past research has observed fluid compensation effects on uncertainty whereby people resolve uncertainty by affirming themselves through a variety of indirect ways (e.g., world-view defense). The present investigation is concerned with how direct uncertainty compensation influences sense-making processes. To test this, participants were exposed to a magic trick to instill uncertainty and then either told how the trick was done (i.e., full compensation) or not told how the trick was done (i.e., no compensation). Preliminary evidence supports the prediction that full compensation, as opposed to no compensation, reduces people’s desire to make sense out of ambiguous stimuli when feeling uncertain.

Diversity Threats as Meaning Threats

Summary: Past research has found that reminding the dominant majority group that minority groups will be increasing in number in the next decade arousals negative affect. The current research is hypothesizing that this negative affect can be thought of as another kind of meaning threat. Specifically, dominant majority individuals who read a short news article indicating increasing minority populations are expected to experience more death-though accessibility, greater threat, and reduced meaning.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kimberly Rios

New York University


Summer 2012

Social Perception, Action, & Motivation Lab

Responsibilities: Chosen out of 170 applicants to participate in research on social perception, action, and motivation. Responsibilities involved all stages of the research process, ranging from experimentation assistance and independent study creation to an NYU Lab conference presentation. Opportunities were also available to think critically about research as well as develop advanced skills in data analysis and report writing needed to be an independent researcher.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Emily Balcetis

Responsibilities: Conducting a literature review, creating an experiment, designing experimental protocol, data collection, entry, and analysis, and preparing research for NYU Lab conference presentation.

Fairleigh Dickinson University

Social Psychology Research Assistant

Fall 2011-2013

Responsibilities: Assisted in research for in and out-group studies. Responsibilities involved all stages of the research process. This included the creation of face stimuli, preparing and coding data for analysis, and programming experiments using Media Lab and Direct RT.

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Steven G. Young