Lisa Feldman Barrett

Lisa Feldman Barrett (born c. 1963) is a university distinguished professor of psychology at Northeastern University,[1] where she focuses on the study of emotion.[2] She is a director of the Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory. Along with James Russell, she is the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Emotion Review.[3]

Lisa Feldman Barrett
Born1963 (age 5556)
ResidenceBoston, Massachusetts, U.S.
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Toronto, University of Waterloo
Known forTheory of constructed emotion
Spouse(s)Daniel J. Barrett
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship, NIH Director's Pioneer Award
Scientific career
FieldsCognitive neuroscience, psychology, psychophysiology
InstitutionsNortheastern University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston College, Pennsylvania State University
Thesis (1992)
Doctoral advisorMike Ross,


Barrett was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1963. Barrett obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Honors at the University of Toronto. Barrett completed a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada, and a Clinical Internship at the University of Manitoba Medical School.

Professional history

Study of human emotions

At the beginning of her career, Dr. Barrett's research focused on the structure of affect, having developed experience-sampling methods[4] and open-source software to study emotional experience. Dr. Barrett and members at IASL study the nature of emotion broadly from social-psychological, psychophysiological, cognitive science, and neuroscience perspectives, and take inspiration from anthropology, philosophy, and linguistics. They also explore the role of emotion in vision and other psychological phenomena.

In 1996, she joined the Psychology Faculty at Boston College. Before that she was an assistant professor of clinical psychology at The Pennsylvania State University.

Her research has focused on the main issues in the science of emotions such as:

  • What are the basic building blocks of emotional life?
  • Why is it that people quickly and effortlessly perceive anger, sadness, fear in themselves and others, yet scientists have been unable to specify a set of clear criteria for empirically identifying these emotional events?
  • What roles do language and conceptual knowledge play in emotion perception?
  • Are there really differences between the emotional lives of men and women?

Theory of constructed emotion

During her graduate training, Barrett developed the initial insights for her current theory of constructed emotion.

She highlights differences in emotions between different cultures, and says that emotions "are not triggered; you create them. They emerge as a combination of the physical properties of your body, a flexible brain that wires itself to whatever environment it develops in, and your culture and upbringing, which provide that environment."[5][6]

Honors and awards

Selected publications


  • How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. ISBN 0544133315.

Selected academic papers

  • Barrett, L. F., Adolphs, R., Martinez, A., Marsella, S., & Pollak, S. (2019). Emotional expressions reconsidered: Challenges to inferring emotion in human facial movements. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 20, 1–68.
  • Barrett, L. F. (2017). The theory of constructed emotion: An active inference account of interoception and categorization. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw154.
  • Barrett, L. F., & Bar, M. (2009). See it with feeling: Affective predictions in the human brain. Royal Society Phil Trans B, 364, 1325–1334.
  • Barrett, L. F., & Bliss-Moreau, E. (2009). Affect as a psychological primitive. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 167–218.
  • Barrett, L. F., Lindquist, K., Bliss-Moreau, E., Duncan, S., Gendron, M., Mize, J., & Brennan, L. (2007). Of mice and men: Natural kinds of emotion in the mammalian brain? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 297–312
  • Barrett, L. F., Lindquist, K., & Gendron, M. (2007). Language as a context for emotion perception. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 11, 327–332.
  • Barrett, L. F. (2006). Emotions as natural kinds? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1, 28–58.
  • Barrett, L. F. (2006). Solving the emotion paradox: Categorization and the experience of emotion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 20–46.
  • Barrett, L. F., & Barrett, D. J. (2001). Computerized experience-sampling: How technology facilitates the study of conscious experience. Social Science Computer Review, 19, 175–185.
  • Feldman, L. A. (1995b). Valence focus and arousal focus: Individual differences in the structure of affective experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 153–166

See also


  1. "Northeastern University Psychology Department".
  2. "The Faces and Minds of Psychological Science".
  3. Emotion Review
  4. Hektner, Joel M.; Jennifer A. Schmidt; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (September 2006). Experience Sampling Method: Measuring the Quality of Everyday Life.. SAGE Publications. p. 37 et al. ISBN 1-4129-4923-8.
  5. How Emotions Are Made, 2017, Introduction
  6. Joseph LeDoux has taken a similar view.
  7. "Association for Psychological Science: APS Fellows".
  8. "2006 Career Trajectory Award".
  9. Pioneer award announcement Archived 2007-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  10. "Home – Arts". January 15, 2013.
  11. "Academic Honors Convocation – Northeastern University". Academic Honors Convocation.
  12. "Lisa Feldman Barrett and Frederick Leong receive APA Distinguished Service Awards". January 2014.
  13. "Home – SPSP".
  14. "Heritage Fund Initiative".
  15. "APS Mentor Award".
  16. "Lisa Feldman Barrett elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences". April 2018.
  17. "Northeastern Professor Named President-Elect for the Association of Psychological Science". May 2018.
  18. "Lisa Feldman Barrett". April 2019.
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