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Daniel R. Berry, Ph.D.

Daniel R. Berry, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor CHABSS Psychology

Office: SBSB 3208

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.

  • Check out the "SAP Lab" tab to learn more about our program of research.
  • If you'd like to join the SAP Lab please check out the "People" tab to fill out an application!
  • Dr. Berry does not plan to interview prospective MA students for Fall 2023 enrollment



2017 - Ph.D., General Experimental Psychology (social concentration), Virginia Commonwealth University (Dissertation)

2011 - M.A., Experimental Psychology, East Tennessee State University (Thesis)

2008 - B.S., Psychology, Christopher Newport University 


Research Lab information coming soon.


course titles are hyperlinks to most recent syllabi


My Current CV

 *denotes student trainee

Recent Publications:





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!


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:

  • Larry Boman: Larry is a fourth-year Psychological Science MA student. He graduated with his BA in Psychology from CSU Channel Islands. He is interested in existential psychology, and is studying the effects of hypoegoic states on the deleterious cosequences of mortality salience. 
  • 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.
  • Katie RodriguezKatie is a second-year Psychological Science MA student. She earned her BA in Psychological Science from CSUSM in Spring 2020. She is interested if structural manipulations that support equity can amplify the effects of mindfulness on intergroup empathy. 
  • 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. 

Research Assistants

  • Kiara Carmon: Kiara is a recent Psychology Science graduate from CSUSM. Her interests are in positive psychology and she intends to build confidence and further refine her research skills before applying to graduate school.
  • Danny Doyle: Danny is in his final semester of his bachelors in Psychological Science at CSUSM, and plans to pursue graduate study in social psychology.
  • Anna Espinoza: Fall 2021 is Anna's first semester in the SAP Lab.
  • LaHiram Glenn: LaHiram is  a Post-Baccalaureate student specializing in Pre-Health. She graduated in Spring 2021 with a BA in Psychological Science from CSUSM. After completing her post-bacc, she plans to go to medical school to train as a psychiatrist. Her alternative plan is to get her PhD in Clinical Psychology so she can treat others who suffer from mental illnesses. She is interested in multiple research areas such as social psychology, cultural psychology, neuroscience, and mental illnesses. She hopes to gain research experience through this lab and make meaningful connections along the way.
  • Jessah Goldner: Jessah is a Psychological Science major, Biology minor, and a TRIO McNair Scholar graduating in the Spring of 2022. She enjoys studying the brain and the neural mechanisms that underlie behavior, namely neurobehavioral disorders. She plans on continuing her research experience in the SAP Lab and working towards pursuing a Ph.D.
  • Veronica Hernandez: Veronica is in her final semester at CSUSM, finishing her
    BA in Psychological Science. She is planning to pursue her masters followed by doctoral degree in clinical psychology. She hopes gain more experience through the SAP Lab for research in the future.
  • Andrea Resendiz: Andrea earned her B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in psychology and a minor in Spanish from CSUSM in Fall 2020. She plans to earn her M.A. in Psychological Science and eventually her PhD in neuroscience. She is highly interested in research and is excited to learn what she can from the SAP Lab!
  • William Silvar: William recieved his B.A in Psychological Science in Fall 2020 and desires to pursue graduate school in psychological research. His main goal is to become a behavorial neuroscientist to research the effects of derpession and alcohol.
  • Brittany Stanek: Fall 2021 was Brittany's first semester in the SAP Lab.
  • Karissa Tran: Karissa is a second-year student who plans to graduate in Spring 2024 with a BA in Psychological Science. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology upon graduating, allowing her to fulfill her long-term goal of having a career as a clinical scientist who specializes in researching the treatment of anxiety as well as obsessive-compulsive and related disorders.
  • Adam Vernetti: Adam earned his B.A. in Psychological Science from CSUSM in 2021. He aspires to continue his education that focuses on patient care and psychopathology.
  • Devanshi Upadhyaya: Devanshi  is an international student entering her 4th year of undergraduate study in Psychological Science. Upon graduation, she aims to pursue her master’s and eventually a doctoral degree in Experimental Psychology. She has a keen interest in conducting research in the field of Social Psychology and hopes to learn more about it at the SAP Lab.
  • Katarina Young: Spring 2022 was Katarina's first semester in the SAP Lab.
  • Lidia Zamora: Lidia is in the final semester of her Psychological Science BA at CSUSM. Her interests include environmental behavior and health psychology. She hopes to improve her research skills at the SAP Lab.

 Former SAP Lab Trainees

  • Amir Alayoubi: PhD Student, Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience Program, Colorado State University 
  • Pearl Basaldua: MA student, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program, University of San Diego
  • Daniel Brock: MA Student, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, CSU San Bernardino
  • Selena Cesko: M.Ed Student, Education, Colorado State University
  • Rayanne Contrino: MSW Student, Arizona State University
  • Danny Doyle: MA Student, Conservation Leadership, Colorado State University
  • Anna Espinoza: PhD Student, Clinical Psychology, Loma Linda University
  • Jessah Goldner: PhD Student, Rush University
  • Catalina Kuenzi: PsyD Student, Alliant University School of Professional Psychology
  • Anthony Musick: MA Student, Counseling, Pacifica
  • Theresa Ngan Nguyen: MA student, Psychology, San Diego State University
  • Itzia Plascencia: PsyD Student, Alliant University School of Professional Psychology
  • Claudia Salzar: MA Student, Aging Services Management, University of Southern California, Leonard Davis School of Gerontology
  • Gin Tasulis: MA, Psychological Science at CSUSM; Lecturer CSUSM and Palomar College
  • Kimber Thurman: BA, Psychological Science (Anthropology Minor)
  • Gianni Voytilla: PhD Student, Clinical Psychology, Gallaudet University
  • Wesley Walters: MS Student, Counseling Psychology, CSU East Bay
  • Daisy Zavala: PhD Student, Social and Health Psychology, Stony Brook University
  • Hannah Zirzow: JD Student, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California

Former Trainees

  • Daniel Bustamante, PhD. Student, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics
  • Savannah Clements, Student, Teachers College of Columbia University
  • Tyler Henderson, PhD Student, I-O Psychology, South Florida University
  • Danielle Parada, PhD, 2020, Applied Developmental Psychology, George Mason University
  • Paul E. Plonski, MA, 2018, Psychological Science, Northern Arizon University; PhD Student, Social Psychology, Tufts University
  • Caroline Smith, PhD Student, Anthropology, Washington State University
  • Justin Tubbs, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Mass General
  • Donald Tweedie, MA, Human Factors, George Mason University
  • Catherine Wall, PhD Student, Virginia Commonwealth University

Join Us:

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 2022 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. If you are interested in the lab, please apply!.