Catalina Kopetz

Catalina Kopetz

Associate Professor of Psychology
Social Cognition and Motivation


313-577-7636 (fax)

 5057 Woodward Ave. 

Room 8405.3

Curriculum vitae

Catalina Kopetz

Dr. Kopetz is accepting graduate students for the academic year 2022-2023

My research focuses on self-regulation phenomena from the perspective of motivation as cognition. I am particularly interested in identifying and understanding the mechanisms that underlie goal pursuit and the management of multiple goals and goal conflict. My research investigates these basic mechanisms that govern human action in general, and in particular it attempts to understand their functioning in health-relevant judgment and behavior (e.g. dieting, substance use, HIV risk behavior).


In several projects, my current research attempts to address the following questions:

  • How do people juggle multiple goals and what are the consequences of pursuing multiple goals?
  • Why do people fail to pursue goals that are important for them (e.g. exercising more often, maintaining a healthy diet)?
  • Why do people decide to engage in health-compromising behaviors (HIV risk-behavior, drunk driving, smoking) despite their best intentions not to?
  • Could so-called “impulsive” behaviors (e.g. self-harm) be in fact strategic goal-pursuit whereby such behaviors represent means to individual’s chronic and momentary goals?
  • How social context (social rejection, early psycho-social deprivation) may influence individual’s vulnerability to risk behavior?


  • Ph.D. in Social Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park (2007)
  • M.A. in Social Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park (2002)
  • M.A. in Experimental Psychology, Universite de Savoie, Chambery, France (2000)
  • B.A. in Psychology, “Babes-Bolyai” University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (1998)

Awards and grants

  • “Mechanisms underlying intermittent compared to daily smoking” (R21CA222939-01), 2018-2021. Role: Principal investigator

  • “Translating drinking and driving risk information into risk perception” (R01 AA020510-01A1), 2012-2017. Role: Co- investigator

  •  “Early psychosocial deprivation and risk taking among adolescents in Romania” International Research Collaboration on Drug Abuse and Addiction Research, National Institute of Drug Abuse (1R21DA031357-01), 2012-2014. Role: Principal investigator

  •  “Mechanisms of change”; Administrative Supplement for “Stage II trial of novel behavioral activation intervention for smoking cessation” (R01DA018730-06S1), 2012-2013. Role: Principal investigator

Selected publications

  • Kopetz, C. & Woerner, J. I. (2021). People downplay health risks to fulfill their goals; A motivational framework for guiding behavioral policy. Policy Insights from Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, 92-100.
  • Kopetz, C., Briskin, J. L., & Sultana, & R. Stanciu, S. (2021). The motivational mechanisms underlying delayed discounting. Motivation Science.
  • Kruglanski, A.W., Szumowska, E., Kopetz, C. (2021). The call of the wild: Hoe extremism happens. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
  • Kruglanski, A.W., Szumowska, E., Kopetz, C., Vallerand, R. J., & Pierro, A. (2020). On the psychology of extremism: How motivational imbalance breeds intemperance. Psychological Review. Advance online publication.
  • Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., MacPherson, L., & Lejuez, C. W., Nelson, C. A., Zeanah, C. H., & Fox, N. (2019). Early psychosocial deprivation and adolescent risk-taking: The role of motivation and executive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; 10.1037/xge0000486.
  • Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., Starnes, W., & Dedvukaj, J. (2019). It’s risky, therefore I do it: Counterfinality as a source of perceived instrumentality of risk behavior as means to goals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology;
  • Kopetz, C., Woerner, J. I., Briskin, J. L. (2018). Another look at impulsivity: Could impulsive behavior represent strategic goal pursuit? Social and Personality Psychology Compass; e12385.
  • Kopetz, C. & Orehek, A., E. (2015). When the end justifies the means; Self-defeating behavior as “rational” and “successful” self-regulation. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(5), 386-391.
  •  Kopetz, C., Lejuez, C. W, Wiers, R., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2013). Motivation and self-regulation in addiction. Perspectives in Psychological Sciences, 8(1), 3-24.
  • Kruglanski, A. W., Kopetz, C., Belanger, J., Chun, W. Y., Orehek, E., & Fishbach, A. (2013). Features of Multifinality: Effects of Goal Plurality on Means Preferences. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17(1), 22-39
  • Kruglanski, A.W., Belanger, J., Chen, X., Kopetz, C., Pierro, A., & Mannetti, L. (2012). The Energetics of Motivated Cognition: A Force Field Analysis. Psychological Review, 119, 1-20.
  • Kopetz, C., Faber, T., Fishbach, A., & Kruglanski, A. (2011). Multifinality Constraints Effect: How Goal Multiplicity Narrows the Means Set to a Focal End. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 810-826.

Courses taught by Catalina Kopetz

Fall Term 2024 (future)

Winter Term 2024

Fall Term 2023

Winter Term 2023

Fall Term 2022

Winter Term 2022