• Marjorie L. Prokosch, PhD






    Postdoctoral Scholar in the

    Disasters, Trust, and Social Change Lab

    at University of Florida

    Studying motivated cognition, decision-making, and threat perception


  • About me

    Born and raised in sunny Northwest Florida, I earned my bachelor's degree from Florida State University in Psychology and French (minoring in Biology) in 2011. I went on to complete a M.S. and Ph.D. (with a quantitative minor) in Experimental Psychology at Texas Christian University under the advisement of Dr. Sarah Hill. I moved to New Orleans to join the Tulane Evolution and Social Cognition Lab as a postdoctoral associate in 2018, where I worked with Dr. Damian Murray. In Fall 2020, I moved to Gainesville, Florida to join Drs. Jason von Meding and Colin Smith in creating the Disasters, Trust, and Social Change Lab , where I am a postdoctoral associate.


    I study social and health-related decision-making, with an emphasis on how environmental threats (such as the threat posed by infectious disease) and our own condition (e.g., our immune system, developmental experiences with harshness) motivate our perceptions and behavior. Specific areas of interest include risk perception, self-regulation, and close relationships. In my current role at UF, I am examining how environmental hazards (like hurricanes) and climate change threats intersect with social inequality to impact decision-making.


    In my free time, I enjoy reading fiction, watching Netflix with my cats, piano, teaching marching percussion (past), paddleboarding, hiking, and traveling to new places.

    Taken during a visit to the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, Argentina

  • Research Interests

    I am an Experimental psychologist who studies topics relevant to both Social and Health psychology. My main themes are outlined below, but I research other topics, too. Please email me if you would like to learn more about my research!

    How do we handle the problem of getting sick?

    Even with the rise of modern medicine, germs and parasites are still a widespread threat to our health and well-being. In addition to our body's physiological immune system, we also possess a behavioral immune system , a set of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral mechanisms that help us avoid infection.


    Much of my research studies how the motive to avoid getting sick impacts how we make decisions (i.e., do we tend to play it safe more when we are worried about getting sick? Do we tend to think big picture or focus on the short-term?), and how we form and manage relationships with other people.


    I am also interested in how our physiological and behavioral immune systems cross-talk with one another. For example, how does our behavioral immune system act when our physiological system is poor at managing the germs in our current environment? How does activation of our physiological immune system (i.e., inflammation) impact our perceptions, emotions, and behavior?


    Additionally, I am interested in how different aspects of diseases themselves impact our behavioral immune function. There is an extremely diverse range of germs and parasites out there (and already inside us!) that can infect us in a variety of ways. Some infections make us very sick or kill us rapidly (e.g., Ebola, the Plague), while others make us mildly sick (e.g., a cold) or not visibly sick at all (e.g., carriers of HPV). How do we process and react to these different cues of infection threat?

    How do we adapt to adversity?

    Growing up in poor and / or unstable environments has been linked to a wide range of health problems in later life (e.g., high inflammation, blood pressure, obesity, diabetes). Some aspects of modern poor environments (e.g., poor healthcare access, food deserts) undoubtedly play a role in generating these health outcome disparities. However, some of the habits and behaviors that contribute to these disparities (e.g., overeating, thinking and acting in the short-term) may also reflect adaptive tradeoffs that help us to survive and reproduce early in tough environments but that may also in turn, reduce longevity.


    I use life history theory as a theoretical framework to examine how adversity related tradeoffs impact cognition and behavior. I also study how the bodily consequences of these tradeoffs (e.g., inflammation) may feed-forward to exacerbate health disparities by further altering health-related decision-making.


    As part of my collaborations at the University of Florida, I am starting to examine the ways in which larger scale, structural adversities posed by injustices in the built environment (e.g., historical redlining, poor infrastructure, etc..) impact people's decision-making and well-being.

    How do we react to other threats and opportunities?

    In addition to my work examining how people process threats posed by infection and adversity, I also examine how other threats and opportunities in the environment impact thinking. For example, some of my work has looked at factors that impact how we choose romantic and social partners, or at how the presence of crowds shape thinking strategies. In my current role at the University of Florida, I am beginning to explore how people perceive and react to Natural Disasters (e.g., hurricanes, fires) and climate change.

  • Peer-Reviewed Publications

    Kerry, N., Prokosch, M. L., & Murray, D. R. (in press). The Holy Father (and Mother)? Multiple tests of the hypothesis that parenthood and parental care motivation lead to greater religiosity. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Preprint link


    Mengelkoch, S., Gassen, J., Prokosch, M.L., Boehm, G. W., & Hill, S. E. (in press). More than just a pretty face? The relationship between immune function and perceived facial attractiveness. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2021.2476


    Bradshaw, H. K., Gassen, J., Prokosch, M. L., Boehm, G. W., & Hill., S. E. (in press). Control over pathogen exposure and basal immunological activity influence disgust and pathogen-avoidance motivation. Cognition and Emotion.
    doi: 10.1080/02699931.2022.2031905


    Gassen, J., White, J. D., Peterman, J. L., Mengelkoch, S., Leyva, R. P. P., Prokosch, M. L., Eimerbrink, M. J., Brice, K., Cheek, D. J., Boehm, G. W., & Hill, S. E. (2021). Sex differences in the impact of childhood socioeconomic status on immune function. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 1–10. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-89413-y


    Prokosch, M. L., Airington, Z., & Murray, D. R. (2021). Investigating the relationship between olfactory acuity, disgust, and mating strategies. Evolution and Human Behavior, 42(2), 113-120. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.08.002


    Johnston, S., McKie, R. M., Levere, D., Russell, E. M., Prokosch, M. L., & Reissing, E. D. (2021). Normalizing gay and straight male friendships: A qualitative analysis of beliefs and attitudes in Canada and the United States. Men & Masculinities. 22(2), 277–287. doi:10.1037/men0000333


    Tierney, W., Hardy, J. H., III., Ebersole, C. R., Viganola, D., Clemente, E. G., Gordon, M., Hoogeveen, S., Haaf, J., Dreber, A. , Johannesson, M., Pfeiffer, T., Huang, J. L., Vaughn, L. A., DeMarree, K.G., Igou, E., Chapman, H., Gantman, A., Vanaman, M., Wylie, J., Storbeck J., Andreychik, M. R., McPhetres, J., Culture and Work Morality Forecasting Collaboration, & Uhlmann, E. L. (2021). A creative destruction approach to replication: Implicit work and sex morality across cultures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. (Member of Forecasting Collaboration). Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 93, 104060. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2020.104060


    Murray, D. R., Moran, J. B., Prokosch, M. L., & Kerry, N. (2020). No evidence for a relationship between MHC heterozygosity and life history strategy in a sample of North American undergraduates. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-10. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67406-7


    Prokosch, M. L., Gassen, J., Ackerman, J. M., & Hill, S. E. (2019). Caution in the time of Cholera: Disease threats decrease risk tolerance. Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. doi: 10.1037/ebs0000160


    Gassen, J., Proffitt Leyva, R. P., Mengelkoch, S., White, J. D., Peterman, J. L., Prokosch, M. L., Bradshaw, H. K., Eimberbrink, M. J., Cheek., D. J., Boehm, G. W., & Hill, S. E. (2019). Day length predicts investment in human immune function: Shorter days yield greater investment. Psychoneuroendocrinology. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.05.011


    Gassen, J., Prokosch, M.L., Eimerbrink, M., Proffitt Leyva, R.P., White, J., Peterman, J. L., Burgess, A., Cheek, D. J., Kreutzer, A., Nicolas, S.C., Boehm, G.W., & Hill, S.E. (2019). Inflammation predicts impulsivity and an inability to delay gratification. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 4928. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-41437-1


    Gassen, J., Makhanova, A., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., Eckel, L. A., Nikonova, L., Prokosch, M. L., Boehm, G. W., & Hill, S. E. (2019). Experimentally-induced inflammation predicts present focus. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 1-16. doi:10.1007/s40750-019-00110-7


    Murray, D. R., Prokosch, M. L. , & Airington, Z. (2019). PsychoBehavioroImmunology: Connecting the behavioral immune system to Its physiological foundations. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00200


    Gassen, J., Prokosch, M. L., Makhanova, A., Eimerbrink, M., White, J. D., Proffitt Leyva, R.P., … Boehm., G. W., & Hill, S. E. (2018). Behavioral immune system activity predicts downregulation of chronic basal inflammation. PLoS One. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203961


    Hill, S. E., Basket, K. N., Bradshaw, H. K., Prokosch, M. L., DelPriore, D. J., & Rodeheffer, C. D. (2016). Tempting foods and the affordability axiom: Food cues change beliefs about the costs of healthy eating. Appetite, 107, 274-279. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.08.014


    Prokosch, M. L. & Hill, S. E. (2016). A method for manipulating blood glucose and measuring resulting changes in cognitive accessibility of target stimuli. Journal of Visualized Experiments, (114), e65211. doi:10.3791/54211


    Hill, S. E., Boehm, G. W., & Prokosch, M. L. (2016). Vulnerability to disease as a predictor of faster life history strategies. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 2(2), 116-118. doi: 10.1007/s40750-015-0040-6


    Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., & DelPriore, D. J., Griskevicius, V., & Kramer, A. (2016). Low childhood socioeconomic status promotes eating in the absence of energy need. Psychological Science, 27(3), 354-364. doi:10.1177/0956797615621901


    Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., & DelPriore, D. J. (2015). The impact of perceived disease threat on women’s desire for novel dating and sexual partners: Is variety the best medicine? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(2), 244-261. doi:10.1037/pspi0000024


    Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., Morin, A., & Rodeheffer, C. D. (2014). The effect of non-caloric sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction, Appetite, 83(1), 82-88. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.003


    Miller, S. L., Prokosch, M. L., & Maner, J. K. (2012). Relationship maintenance and biases on the line bisection task: Attractive alternatives, asymmetrical cortical activity, and approach– avoidance motivation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(2), 566-569. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2011.10.012

    Other Works

    Luoto, S., Prokosch, M. L., Varella, M. A. C., Krams, I., & Fincher, C. L. (2021). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its psychobehavioral consequences. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 2880.

    *Special issue linked here


    Prokosch, M. L. & Corrigan, E. (2016). Fast versus slow life history strategies. In T. K. Shackelford & V. A. Weekes-Shackelford (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer International: New York, NY. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1917-1


    DelPriore, D. J., Prokosch, M. L., & Hill, S. E. (2015). The causes and consequences of women’s competitive beautification. In M. Fischer (Ed.), Handbook of women and competition. New York: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199376377.013.34

    For information about manuscripts in prep or under review, see my CV

  • Teaching Experience

    Courses I have taught as Independent Instructor on Record.

    Syllabi available upon request.

    Introduction to Psychology

    Tulane University, Spring 2019 - Spring 2020

    Survey course covering the major areas of Psychology (e.g., Methods, Neuroscience, Sensation and Perception, Learning, Development, Social-Personality, Health, Abnormal, etc..). Taught to Major and Non-Major students. Primarily taught in-person, but have taught part of a semester online.

    Social Psychology

    Tulane University, Fall 2019 - Summer 2020

    Survey course covering the major areas of Social Psychology (e.g., Social Cognition, Attitudes, Persuasion, Groups, Prejudice, Romantic Relationships, etc..). Taught to Major and Non-Major students. Have taught in person sections, hybrid sections, and fully online.

    Evolutionary Psychology

    Tulane University, Spring 2019

    Mixed seminar/survey course covering the major areas of Evolutionary Psychology (e.g., Safety, Disease Avoidance, Kinship and Cooperation, Mating, Aggression, etc..). Taught to primarily upper-division Major students with some Non-Majors. Taught in person.

    Courses I have served as a Teaching Assistant or Lab Instructor

    Texas Christian University, Fall 2012 - Spring 2017

    • General Psychology
    • Principles of Behavior II (lab instructor)
    • Social Psychology (writing emphasis)
    • Social Psychology (no writing emphasis)
    • Evolutionary Psychology
    Have also served as Sona student manager for the department's Psychology Study Participant Pool
  • Outreach

    See my CV for detailed outreach and service efforts

    I believe that the science should be clear and accessible. I am dedicated to communicating and applying my research-acquired knowledge in ways that can benefit individuals, communities, and the broader public.


    I have participated in a variety of science communication efforts, such as publishing in outlets like The Conversation, partnering with science journalists to discuss my work, and participating in public-facing panels and workshops.


    If you think I might be a good fit for an upcoming science communication opportunity, please don't hesitate to contact me!

  • Connect with me

    The best science is a group effort and I wouldn't be where I am today without teamwork. I have been fortunate to have amazing collaborators throughout my career and am always open to more. If you're interested in working together, please let me know!