Research Areas

Research conducted by professors from the Graduate Program in Psychology at Universidade Federal de São Carlos (PPGPsi – UFSCar) is organized in three broad areas: (a) Behavior Analysis of Cognition, (b) Social Behavior and Cognitive Processes, and (c) Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences. 

AREA 1 – Behavior Analysis of Cognition

In Area 1 (Behavior Analysis of Cognition), the main interest is the study of symbolic functions. Research is guided by theoretical models of equivalence relationships, which describe and explain the relationship between symbols and referents, and which guide efforts to understand contributing factors to the emergence of new behaviors. This research has two main directions: (a) the investigation of pre-requisites for symbolic functions, and (b) applications to teaching.

Studies following the first direction are aimed at identifying necessary and sufficient conditions for the emergence of symbolic relations. Investigations are being conducted with a variety of participants, including infants, individuals with cochlear implants, and non humans, with two main goals: (a) to demonstrate acquisition of pre-symbolic relations, and b) to validate the equivalence model in experimental studies focused on the acquisition of symbolic functions.

The second direction includes studies aimed at investigating basic learning processes (simple and complex discriminative learning, generalization and recombination of skill repertoires, concept formation, categorization, problem solving, and choice and decision-making), and developing procedures to teach several important skills to individuals with learning difficulties or who did not have access to the necessary conditions for the acquisition of such abilities. Studies are often conducted with children with developmental risk or learning problems, individuals with intellectual, auditory or visual disabilities, neurological development delays, autism, illiterate adults, among others. One important byproduct of such research endeavours is the development of instruments/measures, technological resources and instructional material.

Research infrastructure in this area includes four laboratories, located in the Department of Psychology: Psychology of Learning Laboratory; Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior; Laboratory of Interactive Multimedia and Computer-Based Learning; and the Social Interaction Laboratory. 

The following faculty conduct research on topics related to this area:

  • Antonio Celso de Noronha Goyos (Laboratory of Interactive Multimedia and Computer-Based Learning)
  • Camila Domeniconi (Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior)
  • Deisy das Graças de Souza (Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior)
  • Débora de Hollanda Souza (Social Interaction Laboratory)
  • João dos Santos Carmo (Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior)
  • Júlio César Coelho de Rose (Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior)
  • Maria Stella Coutinho de Alcântara Gil (Social Interaction Laboratory)
  • Isaías Pessotti (Laboratory for Studies on Human Behavior)

AREA 2 – Social Behavior and Cognitive Processes

Researchers in Area 2 (Social Behavior and Cognitive Processes) are interested in social behavior, social interactions, cognitive processes, and interactions among these behaviors and processes, to promote healthy development and maximize quality of life, while preventing or reducing problems that can lead to unfavorable outcomes. The primary theoretical perspectives guiding research conducted by faculty members in this area include Behavioral Psychology and Cognitive Psychology. The research methods used are varied and include experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational and descriptive, but efforts are also being made in designing and validating instruments and behavioral measures, which can be helpful for the planning of current and future educational and therapeutic interventions. Our researchers examine interactions and relationships between spouses, parents and their children (in different developmental periods, including adulthood and old age), teachers and students, professionals and clients, children and their peers, caregivers and children, etc. In these studies, specific factors and skills which affect or are affected by the quality of social interactions are examined (e.g., social skills, violence, work relations, aging, memory, and motivation).

Researchers in this area are active in four well-established research groups from the Department of Psychology, as indicated, below:

  • Alex Sandro Gomes Pessoa (Laboratory for the Analysis and Prevention of Violence - LAPREV)
  • Almir Del Prette (Social Interaction Laboratory – Interpersonal Relations and Social Skills Research Group -- RIHS)
  • Ana Lúcia Rossito Aiello (Autismo)
  • Elizabeth Joan Barham (Cognition and Human Development Laboratory - LADHECO)
  • Lúcia Cavalcanti de A. Williams (Laboratory for the Analysis and Prevention of Violence - LAPREV)
  • Maria de Jesus Dutra dos Reis (Psychology of Learning Laboratory- LPA)
  • Monalisa Muniz Nascimento (Cognition and Human Development Laboratory - LADHECO)
  • Patrícia Waltz Schelini (Cognition and Human Development Laboratory - LADHECO)
  • Rosemeire Aparecida Scopinho (Research Center on Work, Society and Community - NUESTRA)
  • Zilda Aparecida Pereira Del Prette (Social Interaction Laboratory – Interpersonal Relations and Social Skills Research Group -- RIHS)

AREA 3 -  Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

Researchers in Area 3 (Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience) study psychobiological aspects of processes, such as learning, memory, cognition and emotion.  They conduct studies with the goal of increasing our understanding of the neurological bases of such processes in both healthy and pathological contexts, using concepts/theories from different knowledge fields (e.g., Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacy, Ethology, and Genetics). Faculty members working in this area conduct basic and applied research, and generally use experimental, quantitative, and descriptive methods, with an emphasis on the observation of behaviour in controlled settings.

Faculty members conducting research in this area are:

  • Amanda Ribeiro de Oliveira (Psychology of Learning Laboratory - LPA)
  • Azair Liane Matos do Canto de Souza (Psychology of Learning Laboratory - LPA)
  • Marcos Hortes Nisihara Chagas (Gerontology Undergraduate Course/UFSCar)