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Daniel R. Berry, Ph.D.

Daniel R. Berry, Ph.D. profile picture
Assistant Professor CHABSS Psychology
(760) 750-8203 Social and Behavioral Science Building 3208

About Daniel R. Berry, Ph.D.

I joined the psychology faculty at California State University San Marcos in the fall of 2017 after completing my Ph.D. in General Experimental Psychology (social concentration) at Virginia Commonwealth University. My program of research broadly focuses on how people respond to others in need and show kindness to one another. Specifically, I adopt a multimethod social cognitive and affective (neuro)science approach to examine the role of attention and deliberate cognitive processes (e.g., mindfulness meditation) in enhancing empathy and kindness. Alongside neuroscientific techniques, our lab uses diary measures and lab-based simulations to capture social behaviors in everyday life, and self-report methodologies.

  • Dr. Berry is not interviewing prospective MA students for Fall 2023 enrollment
  • Dr. Berry is no longer accepting RAs into his lab

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course titles are hyperlinks to most recent syllabi

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My Current CV

 *denotes student trainee

Recent Publications:

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Welcome to the Social and Affective Psychophysiology Lab!saplab

Our research program: Perspectives on the motivated naure of empathy and prosocial behavior are key to understanding the role of focused attention in prosocial responsiveness. Others' suffering is often painful to observe or may lead to cognitive, affective, or social costs for the self. So people downregulate their empathic reponses to others, for example, by diverting their attention away from empathy inducing stimuli or situations. Within this line of inquiry our lab addresses three research questions.

  • What is the role of focused attention in prosocial cognition and behavior? Our lab has several ongoing projects to address this question. (1) We are examining how empathy unfolds during the course of a social interaction through the lens of event-related potentials (an EEG marker).  Research assistants who are interested in this project will receive training in establishing and monitoring high quality EEG recording, deliver and design experimental protocols, and design computer software paradigms to elicit brain responses. (2) Our lab is interested in individual differences in life experiences with suffering and how this relates to upregulation or downregulation of empathy. (3) We also conduct several experiments on self-regulation technique in focused attention called mindfulness meditation. These latter two research questions are addressed via experiments conducted remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and research assistants will receive training in delivery and design of experimental protocols and recruiting participants. 

  • Can mindfulness enhance intergroup empathy?  People often downregulate their empathy for and give less help to social outgroup members in need than ingroup members. Our research program has several ongoing projects that aim to address if and how a focused attention form of mindfulness meditation can upregulate empathy toward social outgroup members (e.g., racial, ethnic, and political). Research assistants who are interested in this line of inquiry will be trained on delivering (remotely) and designing experimental protocols, as well as participant recruitment. 
  • Improving research methods in the science of mindfulness. Research on mindfulness meditation has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, and scientists are now beginning to test the potential of mindfulness to promote interpersonal wellbeing outcomes. Our lab examines the quality of the science that is being conducted on mindfulness and interpersonal wellbeing. Research assistants will be trained in performing literature searches, coding empirical manuscripts, assessing risk of bias in studies, and developing protocols for meta-science projects. 

Research assistants and graduate students are included at all stages of the research process. Dr. Berry encourages graduate students and research assistants to form their own programmatic interests. Research questions on social cognitive and affective neuroscience, prosocial emotion and behaviors, mindfulness training and other forms of deliberate attention, intergroup processes, and meta-science are all encouraged!

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Lab Members:

The SAP Lab is fortunate to have a dedicated, hard-working research team, and we are looking to expand! Scroll down for more details on applying to the lab, but first read about our team.

Graduate Students:

  • Jonathan Hoerr: Jonathan is a fourth-year Psychological Science MA student. He graduated with a BA in Psychological Science from CSUSM in 2017. He is interested in studying whether state mindfulness interacts with psychological traits to promote personal and social welfare.
  • Kaylee Ryan: Kaylee is a first-year Psychologoical Science MA student. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2020. She is interested in relationship between mindfulness and pro-environmental behavior. 

Join Us:

***Dr. Berry is starting a new position at Radford University and is no longer inviting students to the SAP lab at CSUSM***

Graduate Students: Dr. Berry generally accepts one or two graduate students each academic year. However, he does not plan to interview graduate students for Fall 2023 entry into the MA program in Psychololgical Science. Qualities of a successful student include a commitment to conducting careful research on one or more of the following topics: mindfulness, empathy, compassion, prosociality, intergroup relations, social neuroscience, social threat. Background in EEG/ERP and Matlab (or other programming language) is a plus! Prospective students may find  this information about our graduate program helpful when applying. Please contact Dr. Berry directly ( for more information about graduate study in the SAP Lab.

Research Assistants: The SAP Lab is committed to the education and training of undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students; we depend heavily upon your hard work to complete lab studies. Our current research is focused on the role of deliberate attention in empathy and kindness. We use a multimethod approach in the lab to research these topics including EEG, behavioral, daily diary, and subjective responses. Getting involved as a volunteer or PSYC 498/499 student is a great way to see if psychological science is the right career path for you. As part of your training, we host workshops to help you gain admission into psychology graduate programs, medical school, and other professional training programs. The SAP Lab accepts new researchers each semester and carries between 10 - 15 students in total. Each research assistant is given the opportunity to help with 1 - 2 projects a semester, and are offered a variety of tasks to choose from. Students can serve as experimenters, record and process psychophysiological (EEG) data, code and analyze data, conduct literature searches and related tasks for meta-analyses, and even design and lead their own studies.


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