Matthew Lieberman


Ph.D.: Harvard University
Primary Area: Social Psychology
Address: 5544 Pritzker Hall
Phone: (310) 206-4050
Lab Website:

Research and Teaching Interests:

In graduate school, Kevin Ochsner and I coined the term Social Cognitive Neuroscience which has become a thriving area of research over the past decade and describes nearly all of the work done in my lab.  My appointments are in the Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences.  My lab uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural bases of social cognition and social experience.  In particular, we examine the neural bases of social cognition, persuasion, emotion regulation, and social factors related to education. I recently published the book Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect which examines how our brains evolved to ensure we are drawn to the social world and have the mental resources to navigate it. The book was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. My research has been published in top scientific journals including Science, Nature Neuroscience, American Psychologist, and Psychological Science.  This work has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Science Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  Our findings have received coverage in the New York Times, Time magazine, Scientific American, Discover Magazine, and was the subject of a recent segment for ABC’s Nightline. I am also the founding editor of the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.  In 2007, I won the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology.  In 2011, I won the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Prize. My former trainees are now on faculty at Oxford, Carnegie Mellon, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Ohio State University, University of Oregon, and Pomona College.

Representative Publications:

Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. New York, NY: Crown. Spunt, R. P. & Lieberman, M. D. (2013). The busy social brain: Evidence for automaticity and control in the neural systems supporting social cognition and action understanding. Psychological Science, 24, 80-86 Falk, E. B., Morelli, S. A., Welbourn, B. L., Dambacher, K., & Lieberman, M. D. (2013). Creating buzz: The neural correlates of effective message propagation. Psychological Science, 24, 1234-1242. Falk, E. B., Berkman, E. T., Mann, T., Harrison, B, & Lieberman, M. D. (2010). Predicting persuasion-induced behavior change from the brain. Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 8421-8424. Lieberman, M. D., Eisenberger, N. I., Crockett, M. J., Tom, S., Pfeifer, J. H., Way, B. M. (2007). Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity to affective stimuli. Psychological Science, 18, 421-428. Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., & Williams, K. D. (2003). Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290-292.

Publications of the SCN Lab