MindCORE Postdoctoral Fellow, 2020-2023

Rista is interested in how children navigate their social world and uses experimental approaches to better understand the mechanisms underlying socio-emotional development.


Rista received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also received her BA from the University of Wisconsin and spent two years at the National Institute of Mental Health upon receiving an Intramural Research Training Award. Her graduate research, which was funded by an NSF graduate research fellowship and Emotion Training Grant, focused on how paying attention to patterns and associations in one’s environments contributes to children’s social and emotional development. She asked questions such as: What strategies do children use when faced with uncertain social information? Do individuals monitor the emotional information they see and flexibly update emotion categories accordingly? How does attention to associations between facial cues and outcomes lead to making predictions about a social partner’s behavior? Rista uses approaches that draw across and beyond areas of psychology. She designs experiments that use theory and techniques from cognitive science to explore issues related to socio-emotional development. In doing so Rista hopes to gain a better understanding of how children’s learning tools generalize across social and nonsocial situations and whether there are instances in which unique skills are required. She also hopes to investigate mechanisms that might underlie social functioning and potentially serve as targets for intervention.