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Wrapped presents are the best. Not only do they offer a gift, but they elicit the sweet sense of curiosity as you wait to open them. My research examines human curiosity, and explores the contexts in which curiosity can be helpful (for example, by driving discovery) and harmful (for example by exposing us to unpleasant experiences). What makes us curious, and does that change with age?

I’m also curious about a number of other things related to human cognition, including finding ways to optimize intellectual functioning for people who face cognitive challenges, like older adults and individuals with intellectual disabilities. Some of my research examines how we remember to execute important tasks in the future (e.g., paying a bill, calling a friend on their birthday, taking medication). Other work examines the ways in which emotion might influence our memories – and the long term consequences of those memories.

It’s important to me that basic research inform and improve our lives, and for that reason some of my work examines how we can improve outcomes for people with disabilities. What is it like to have a loved one diagnosed with a disability? How does the diagnosis experience affect outcomes for you and your loved one? Why are so many people with autism unemployed or underemployed? Do biases during the job interview process play a role? How does living and learning with people who have disabilities affect the way we see the world and other people in it?  These are some of the questions that have motivated my research over the past few years. My research has examined the factors that created and perpetuated segregated settings for people with disabilities, with the aim of improving options for all people.

Nearly all of my work involves collaboration with undergraduate students, who team with me on grant proposals, conference presentations, and publications. I also write a teaching column for APS, and enjoy writing about new research findings for Scientific American. You can check out some of my articles at:

Recent publications

May, C. P., Hasher, L., & Healey, K. (2023). For whom (and when) the time bell tolls: Chronotypes and the synchrony effect. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

May, C.P. (2023). A planning guide for new inclusive programs and initiatives serving college students with intellectual disability. Think College Publication. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston, Institute for Community Inclusion.

Whelpley, C. E., & May, C. P. (2022). Seeing is disliking: Evidence of bias against individuals with autism spectrum disorder in traditional job interviews. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

May, C. P., Desplaces, D., & Wyman, D. D. (2021). Universal Design: A Problem-Based Exercise
in a Fast-Paced Competitive Environment. Management Teaching Review.

May, C. P., Dein, A., & Ford, J. (2020). New insights into the formation and duration of flashbulb
memories: Evidence from medical diagnosis memories. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 34(5),
1154 -1165.  DOI: 10.1002/acp.3704.