Dr. Justin Couchman
My research focuses on categorization, metacognition, self-agency and self-awareness,and music perception. Much of my work can be called comparative psychology, because it examines both humans and monkeys. I study monkeys at Georgia State University in order to understand how different mental processes evolved, how animal minds compare to the minds of young children and people with disabilities, and also to come to a better understanding of what kinds of thinking are possible without human language. I have examined how the mind understands rules and family resemblance, sameness and difference, and how we monitor our thinking and know to engage in new problem-solving strategies. My most recent work has explored the ability to understand that some actions are self-caused, and the physiological correlates of self-agency. This is an important ability in human development and aging, and has many interesting effects on visual tasks and musical performance.
Recently I have looked at metacognitive performances on college exams in an attempt to help students improve their learning, memory, and judgments of their own knowledge. This work also attempts to correct some common fallacies about how you should study, take exams, and make decisions in everyday life. I have also recently begun exploring the effects of animals on humans by pairing children with dogs on a variety of tasks in order to improve motivation, attention, and critical social cognition skills.
I enjoy teaching Introduction to Psychology because it exposes students to new ideas and gives them an idea a perspective on the mind that goes beyond the “common sense” explanations they have learned in their lives. I also teach Cognitive Psychology, where we delve deeper into the core functions of the mind and see how we solve problems, understand language, and make decisions. We also look at many cognitive biases that strongly affect our thinking, despite the fact that we are usually not aware of them. Another course I teach is Perception, which focuses on how the mind makes sense of sensory information and how we come to understand color, sound, and other experiences that we often take for granted. In Psychology of Language we explore the effects of language on thinking and learn about different aspects of speech. In the past I have taught senior seminar courses in Animal Cognition and in Metacognition, and have interests in Research Methods and the History & Systems of psychology.
I currently serve on the Psychology Department Curriculum Committee and Awards Committee. I also serve as Program Committee Chair for a major academic conference, the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology.
Selected Student-Faculty Collaboration
Feather, K. N., Zmuda, S. J., & Couchman, J. J. (April, 2012). How are you doing? Performance monitoring during exams. Poster presented at the 40th Annual Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Edinboro, PA.
Lipski, E., Best, P., Wiley, R., & Couchman, J. J. (April, 2012). The effect of therapy dogs on categorization strategies in children. Poster presented at the 40th Annual Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Psychology Conference, Edinboro, PA.
Wiley, R., Lipski, E., Best, P., & Couchman, J. J. (April, 2012). Children’s categorization strategies in the presence of a therapy dog. Poster presented at the 14th Annual SUNY Fredonia Student Research and Creative Activity Exposition, Fredonia, NY.
Zmuda, S. J., Feather, K. N., & Couchman, J. J. (April, 2012). Metacognition in exams. Poster presented at the 14th Annual SUNY Fredonia Student Research and Creative Activity Exposition, Fredonia, NY.
Couchman, J. J., Beran, M. J., Coutinho, M. V. C., Boomer, J., Zakrzewski, A., Church, B., & Smith, J. D. (2012). Do actions speak louder than words? A comparative perspective on implicit versus explicit meta-cognition and theory of mind. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 30, 210-221.
Couchman, J. J., Beasley, R., & Pfordresher, P. Q. (2012) The experience of agency in sequence production with altered feedback. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 186-203.
Couchman, J. J. (2012). Self-agency in rhesus monkeys. Biology Letters, 8, 39-41. Click here for a news story about this article.
Couchman, J. J., Coutinho, M. V. C., Beran, M. J., & Smith, J. D. (2010). Beyond stimulus cues and reinforcement signals: A new approach to animal metacognition. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 124(4), 356-368.
Couchman, J. J., Boomer, J., Coutinho, M. V. C., & Smith, J. D. (2010). Carving nature at its joints using a knife called concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 207-208.
Couchman, J. J., Coutinho, M. V. C., & Smith, J. D. (2010). Rules and resemblance: Their changing balance in the category learning of humans (Homo sapiens) and monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 36(2), 172-83.