Faculty & Research

Alex Koch

Alex Koch

Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science and Asness Junior Faculty Fellow

Alex Koch examines how people react to positive and negative information. For example, positive info is recognized faster and generalized more readily. Negative info, however, is more attention-grabbing, is remembered more accurately, and carries more weight in decisions and judging others. Alex explains these differences in terms of the higher similarity of positive (vs. negative) info. He endorses an efficient spatial arrangement method to measure similarity in which people drag and drop more similar words or pictures closer together on the screen. This method shows that people perceive a great variety of positive (vs. negative) others, things, and events as more similar to one another.

In a second line of research, Alex models the dimensions that people spontaneously use to stereotype all sorts of societal groups like rich people, immigrants, parents, the military, alcoholics etc. His evidence points to agency / socioeconomic success (A), conservative-progressive beliefs (B), and trustworthiness / communion (C), summarized as the ABC model of stereotype dimensions. People agree on groups’ agency and beliefs but not communion. In follow-up projects, Alex examines behavioral consequences. Perceived similarity in agency and beliefs between the self and a group increases perceived communion of that group, and thereby cooperative and even generous behavior towards its members. Recently, Alex teamed up with authors of other social evaluation models to reconcile their theoretical differences.

Alex’s research has been published in several impactful journals in (cognitive and social) psychology and beyond, including Psychological Science, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Alex completed undergraduate studies at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Cologne in Germany. He also conducted research as a visiting undergraduate student at the University of New South Wales in Australia, as a visiting graduate student at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and as a visiting postdoctoral scholar at Princeton University. Prior to joining Booth, Alex held a postdoctoral position at the University of Cologne.


2020 - 2021 Course Schedule

Number Title Quarter
38103 Strategies and Processes of Negotiation 2021  (Winter)
38919 Psychology and Social Inequities 2021  (Spring)

Koch, A., Dorrough, A., Glöckner, A., & Imhoff, R. (in press). The ABC of society: Similarity in agency and beliefs predicts cooperation across groups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Koch, A., Imhoff, R., Unkelbach, C., Nicolas, G., Fiske, S., Terache, J., Carrier, A., & Yzerbyt, V. (in press). Groups’ warmth is a personal matter: Understanding consensus on stereotype dimensions reconciles adversarial models of social evaluation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Unkelbach, C., Alves, H., & Koch, A. (in press). Valence asymmetries: Explaining the differential processing of positive and negative information. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology.

Koch, A., Speckmann, F., & Unkelbach, C. (in press). Q-SpAM: Using spatial arrangement to measure similarity in efficient online research powered by Qualtrics. Sociological Methods & Research.

Ellemers, N., Fiske, S., Abele, A., Koch, A., & Yzerbyt, V. (2020). Adversarial alignment enables competing models to engage in cooperative theory-building, toward cumulative science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 17, 7561-7567.

Unkelbach, C., Koch, A., & Alves, H. (2019). The evaluative information ecology: On the frequency and diversity of “good” and “bad”. European Review of Social Psychology, 30, 216-270.