We study inter-individual differences in executive and socio-emotional functioning across the lifespan,
with implications for developmental science and legal psychology.

Laura Visu-Petra, Ph.D.

University Website Profile

My research investigates the typical and atypical development of executive functions, relevant for developing training programs and for improving academic performance. A main current research interest is the emergence and development of deceptive behavior in relation to the child’s socio-cognitive functioning (theory of mind, executive functions) and problematic behaviour (internalizing and externalizing symptoms). Other research projects target executive functioning and emotion-cognition interactions in high-anxious children (preschoolers and early school age), with implications for academic achievement (a focus on the role of Math anxiety in academic performance).


Research interests:

●  Individual differences and vulnerability to developmental psychopathology

●  Typical and atypical executive functioning development

●  Cognitive functioning in high-trait anxiety

●  The role of math anxiety in academic performance

●  Executive functions, theory of mind and deception skills during early development

●  Developmental cognitive neuropsychology


Lavinia Cheie, Ph.D.

University Website Profile

I am currently a researcher and a lecturer in typical and atypical developmental psychology, and legal psychology, respectively. A long-standing research interest of mine has been identifying early cognitive vulnerabilities to later socio-emotional adjustment problems. Currently, my research is channeled into two main directions. The first direction line consists of investigating the links between individual differences in trait-anxiety and memory (retrospective and prospective memory, with/without emotional information), and executive functioning. A second direction line consists of identifying early cognitive vulnerability factors associated with children’s maladjustment following a negative event (e.g., peer rejection, parental migration).


Research interests:

●  Typical and atypical development

●  Individual differences and cognitive vulnerability to anxiety during childhood

●  Prospective and retrospective memory during childhood

●  Cognitive and social vulnerability to antisocial behaviours


Oana Mărcuș, Ph.D.

University Website Profile

My research looks at the way in which individual differences in trait anxiety hinder cognitive flexibility (the ability to alternate between two different tasks) performance when emotional and non-emotional information is being processed. Within this research space, we also want to look at worry – to see if a specific type of worry (e.g., unproductive worry) explains the link between high anxiety and low cognitive flexibility in school-aged children. A more recent area of interest is focused on developing new adaptive training procedures to improve cognitive flexibility performance in adolescents.


Research interests:

●  Individual differences in cognitive/affective flexibility as a function of anxiety symptoms in children, adolescents and young adults

●  The link between cool and hot executive functions (when emotional content is used)

●  Cognitive flexibility training in adolescents


Alexandra Opriş, Ph.D. Candidate

University Website Profile

My research investigates how individual differences in internalizing symptoms are associated with impaired executive functioning (updating ability) and whether this is related to foresight deficits (namely prospective memory and episodic future thinking performance) in preschool and school-aged children. I am mainly interested in developing behavioral as opposed to verbal methods (e.g. word cueing paradigms) for measuring episodic future thinking (the ability to solve anticipated future problems) which are especially relevant when investigating this capacity in young children. Given the crucial role played by episodic future thinking to daily functioning, the main scope of studying this topic is to develop future interventions aimed to enhance this capacity and improve problem solving and overall well-being.


Research interests:

●  The relationship between memory functioning and internalizing problems

●  Episodic future thinking and prospective memory from a developmental perspective

●  Developing interventions to improve episodic future thinking in children and adolescents


Monica Buta, Ph.D. Candidate

University Website Profile

The main focus of my research is on emotional development. My PhD studies investigate the way people understand real and deceptive emotional expressions (for instance the way they tell the difference between a real and a fake smile) and how this ability evolves across development. I am interested not only in children’s ability to identify deceptive emotional expressions, but also the implicit and explicit strategies they use. Another area of interest focuses on children’s math anxiety and how this relates to processing of negative emotional stimuli and socio-emotional development.


Research interests:

●  Emotion understanding and emotion recognition

●  Understanding the authenticity emotional expressions

●  Individual differences in anxiety

●  Development of deception


Melania Moldovan, Ph.D. Candidate

University Website Profile

My research interest is theory of mind, especially its advanced forms, such as interpretive theory of mind. Using various theory of mind measurements, I have investigated the relation between this socio-cognitive ability and interpretive bias, anxiety and depression symptoms and parental practices. My research also includes clarifying the role of theory of mind in deceptive behaviors manifestation, by developing new age-appropriated deceptive tasks for middle school children. 


Research interests:

●  Theory of mind and anxiety symptoms

●  Theory of mind and information processing biases

●  Theory of mind and parental practices

●  Interpretive theory of mind 


Daniela Teodora Seucan, Ph.D. Candidate

University Website Profile

My doctoral research investigates the link between theory of mind and deception in very young children. The development of morality in preschoolers – in relation with their theory of mind – is another main focus of my research. I am interested not only in children’s verbal deception but also in their behavioral deceptive strategies used to mislead the other in competitive and non-competitive situations. The practical area of my research seeks to develop strategies and programs that promote honesty in children. 


Research interests:

●  Theory of mind and the emergence of the deceptive ability in children

●  Verbal and behavioral deception in competitive and non-competitive contexts 

●  Theory of mind and moral development

●  Development of strategies that enable children to use the understanding of their worlds in a socio-moral way.


Maria Stefania Ionel, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

The main research interests focus on exploring the cognitive and affective benefits of practicing sports in nature/outdoors and indoors, especially in sport climbing and bouldering as a tool to promote mental health. I am also interested in predictors of of exceptional performance in rock climbing and Wilderness and Adventure Therapy approach. 


Research interests:

●  Emotions and cognitions in sports 

●  Predictors of sport performance 

●  Correlates of exposure to natural and simulated environments

●  Wilderness and Adventure Therapy 


Narcisa Prodan, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

My research interests concern school-aged children’s ability to deceive others for a personal gain and their related sociocognitive development. The main focus of my research is on the relationship between children’s lying behavior and theory of mind in its most advanced forms (e.g. constructivist theory of mind). An alternative research interest of mine involves interviewing techniques used in legal context where children’s ability to offer truthful and valuable statements is dependent on the way in which the interview is conducted.


Research interests:

●  Children’s second-order lying ability

●  The relationship between children’s antisocial lying and theory of mind development

●  Interviewing children in legal contexts


Mara Georgiana Moldoveanu, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

My main research interest is self-deception. More specifically, I am studying how self-deception is possible from a psychological perspective, what are the cognitive and affective mechanisms involved in the process of self-deception and what are the consequences of self-deception on our normal functioning and in applied matters, such as the legal field. 


Research interests:

●  Mechanisms of self-deception

●  Motivated reasoning

●  Self-related concepts


Liliana Hurezan, Ph.D. Student


The focus of my PhD research is on the relation between dark personality traits/ dark personality factor and emotional and empathic competencies in offenders. Specifically, I am interested in investigating the differences and similarities between prison and general population in regard to dark traits (psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, cruelty, egoism, frustration, greed, moral disengagement, psychological entitlement, spitefulness, self-interest and sadism) and their common core – the dark factor of personality. Another area of interest concerns the emotional and empathic abilities of inmates (deficits linked to the dark factor of personality, association with criminal behaviour, impact on socio-emotional functioning).



Research interests:

●  Dark personality traits in prison and general population

●  Emotion recognition and emotion understanding

●  Empathic deficits and criminal behaviour


Andreea Turi, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

My research is focused on understanding and exploring the link between personality traits and deception, in prison environment compared to general population. As part of my PhD theses, I investigate associations between normal personality traits, conceptualized as Dark Personality (D factor) and Big Five personality traits, in relation to maladaptive PID-5 personality traits, crime and the process of lie detection and lie production. 

With regard to general deception ability, in prison environment, my research is focused on the association between prisoners’ ability to lie successfully and their ability to detect lies, in an interactive deception task, including detection accuracy, confidence judgments, attitudes toward deception and self-reported cues related to deception.


Research interests:

●  Dark personality traits and maladaptive personality traits

●  Ability to deceive others and the ability to detect deception

●  The link between dark personality traits and deception


Simina-Alexandra Cacuci, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

My main research interests include interviewing techniques in legal contexts and deception detection, with emphasis on analyzing the verbal cues of lying. My research investigates how various cultural factors, including bilingualism, might influence verbal deception detection. Another research topic I am pursuing concerns how Artificial Intelligence could be used for veracity assessment in legal contexts.


Research interests:

●  Verbal cues of deception

●  Bilingualism and deception detection

●  Cultural differences in deception

●  Artificial Intelligence used for veracity assessment


Andreea Petruț, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

The main focus of my research is on math anxiety on children. My PhD studies investigate the relationship between math anxiety and math performance, the relation between math anxiety and test anxiety and other individual constructs and the relation between children math anxiety and parents math anxiety.


Research interests:

●  Educational techniques that lead to the remediation of math anxiety in children

●  Children’s math anxiety and parents’ math anxiety

●  The effect of cognitive tutoring program on math performance and math anxiety


Nagham Anbar, Ph.D. Student

University Website Profile

The main objectives of my research can be summarized as follows. Firstly, I am interested in exploring the relationship between math anxiety and test anxiety. Specifically: studying children’s general trait anxiety and their behaviors towards school and teachers. Secondly, I am investigating the relation between parents’ math anxiety and children math anxiety. Last but not least, my research aims to evaluate the gender stereotypes threats and the gender gap in math performance.


Research interests:

●  Individual differences in math anxiety

●  Children’s math anxiety and parents’ math anxiety

●  Test anxiety 

●  Math gender stereotypes threats 


Current Volunteers

Close Menu