Alexandra Paxton

Assistant Professor

Psychological Sciences

Research Interests

As a cognitive scientist and data scientist, I take a data-rich approach to understanding how people engage in collaboration, conflict, and rapport-building. To do that, I weave together a variety of data sources from the lab and the real world for a converging tapestry of the many ways in which our language, movement, decisions, and emotions change during social contact. Understanding how context—including conversational goals, social connections, and physical spaces—shape our emerging behaviors is a primary goal of my research, embedded within rich traditions of dynamical and ecological perspectives on human behavior and cognition broadly. I’m also interested in developing methods to quantify social interaction, promoting open science research and education, and creating opportunities for cognitive scientists and psychologists who are interested in big data, naturally occurring data, and data science.

As part of my broader interest in interpersonal social dynamics, I am interested in how our connections with one another shape our physical, social, and psychological health. From understanding the doctor-patient rapport-building process to improving the robustness of our social ties, my current and future work hopes to apply the basic scientific understanding of social dynamics to improve real-world health outcomes.


Cognitive & Information Sciences          University of California, Merced          2015


Duran, N., Paxton, A., & Fusaroli, R. (under review). ALIGN: Analyzing Linguistic Interactions with Generalizable techNiques.
Smith, G. K., Mills, C., Paxton, A., & Christoff, K. (under review). Mind wandering rates fluctuate across the day: Evidence from an experience sampling study.
Paxton, A., & Tullett, A. (in press). Open science in data-intensive psychology and cognitive science. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
Paxton, A., & Dale, R. (2017). Interpersonal movement coordination responds to high- and low-level conversational constraints. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1135.
Paxton, A., & Griffiths, T. L. (2017). Finding the traces of behavior and cognition in big data and naturally occurring datasets. Behavior Research Methods, 49(5), 1630-1638.
Main, A., Paxton, A., & Dale, R. (2016). An exploratory analysis of dynamic emotion regulation between mothers and adolescents during conflict discussions. Emotion, 16(6), 913-928.
Abney, D., Paxton, A., Dale, R., & Kello, C. (2015). Movement dynamics reflect a functional role for weak coupling and role structure in dyadic problem solving. Cognitive Processing, 16(4), 325-332.
Paxton, A., Rodriguez, K., & Dale, R. (2015). PsyGlass: Capitalizing on Google Glass for naturalistic data collection. Behavior Research Methods, 47(3), 608-619.
Fusaroli, R., Perlman, M., Mislove, A., Paxton, A., Matlock, T., & Dale, R. (2015). Timescales of massive human entrainment. PLOS ONE, 10(4), e0122742.
Abney, D., Paxton, A., Dale, R., & Kello, C. T. (2014). Complexity matching in dyadic interaction. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(6), 2304-2315.
Paxton, A., & Dale, R. (2013). Argument disrupts interpersonal synchrony. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(11), 2092-2102.
Paxton, A., & Dale, R. (2013). Frame-differencing methods for measuring bodily synchrony in conversation. Behavior Research Methods, 45(2), 329-343.
Tollefsen, D., Dale, R., & Paxton, A. (2013). Alignment, transactive memory, and collective cognitive systems. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 4(1), 49-64.
Paxton, A., Morgan, T. J. H., Suchow, J. W., & Griffiths, T. L. (2018). Interpersonal coordination of perception and memory in real-time online social experiments. In Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Paxton, A.*, Roche, J.*, & Tanenhaus, M. (2015). Communicative efficiency and miscommunication: The costs and benefits of variable language production. In D. C. Noelle, R. Dale, A. S. Warlaumont, J. Yoshimi, T. Matlock, C. D. Jennings, & P. P. Maglio (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Contact Information
Phone(860) 486-2501
Office LocationPsychological Sciences Department 406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020 Storrs, CT 06269 United States