Ariana  Young

Ariana Young, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Psychology
(805) 493-3267
Room 103A, Woodland Hills Center


I am a social psychologist interested in the social nature of the self. My research investigates how the self is influenced by the actual, imagined, and implied presence of other people. In my primary line of research, I explore how social surrogates (i.e., symbolic social bonds) including books, movies, television shows, celebrities, fictional characters, Facebook, Twitter, and comfort foods affect how people think and feel about themselves. My work demonstrates that engaging in these social surrogate activities has real psychological benefits, such as providing a sense of belonging, alleviating loneliness, and bolstering self-esteem and body image. I have additional lines of research in which I investigate other social psychological topics such as interpersonal attachment and social comparison processes. 


Ph.D., Social-Personality Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY

M.A., Social-Personality Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY

B.A., Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara


My areas of expertise include:

-Social psychology

-The self

-Social surrogacy

-Social comparison

-Body image


Gabriel, S., Gainey, K., Valenti, J., & Young, A. F. (in press). The psychological importance of collective assembly: Development and validation of the Tendency for Effervescent Assembly Measure (TEAM). Psychological Assessment.

Gabriel, S., Read, J. P., Young, A. F., Bachrach, R. L., & Troisi, J. D. (in press). Social surrogate use in those exposed to trauma: I get by with a little help from my (fictional) friends? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Gomillion, S. C., Gabriel, S., Kawakami, K., & Young, A. F. (in press). Let's stay home and watch TV: The benefits of shared media use for close relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.    

Park, L. E., Young, A. F., Eastwick, P. W., Troisi, J. D., & Streamer, L. (2016). Desirable but not smart: Preference for smarter romantic partners impairs women’s STEM outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 46, 158-179.

Gabriel, S., Valenti, J., & Young, A. F. (2016). Social surrogates, social motivations, and everyday activities: The case for a strong, subtle, and sneaky social self. In J. M. Olson, M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol 53 (pp. 189-243). New York: Elsevier.

Park, L. E., Young, A. F., & Eastwick, P. W. (2015). (Psychological) distance makes the heart grow fonder: Effects of psychological distance and relative intelligence on men’s attraction to women. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1459-1473.

Young, A. F., Gabriel, S., & Schlager, O. M. (2014). Does this friend make me look fat? Appearance-related comparisons within women’s close friendships. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 36, 145-154.

Troisi, J. D., Young, A. F., & Harris, B. L. (2013). To thine own self be true: Reducing self-biases with a seminar course on the self. Teaching of Psychology, 40, 38-43.

Young, A. F., Gabriel, S. & Hollar, J. L. (2013). Batman to the rescue! The protective effects of parasocial relationships with muscular superheroes on men’s body image. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 173-177.

Young, A. F., Gabriel, S., & Sechrist, G. B. (2012). The skinny on celebrities: Parasocial relationships moderate the effects of thin media figures on women’s body image. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 3, 659-666.

Gabriel, S. & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science, 22, 990-994.

Park, L. E., Young, A. F., Troisi, J. D., & Pinkus, R. T. (2011). Effects of everyday romantic goal pursuit on women’s attitudes toward math and science. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1259-1273.

Sechrist, G. B., & Young, A. F. (2011). The influence of social consensus information on intergroup attitudes: The moderating effects of ingroup identification. The Journal of Social Psychology, 151, 1-22.

Park, L. E., Calogero, R. M., Young, A. F., & DiRaddo, A. (2010). Appearance-based rejection sensitivity predicts body dysmorphic disorder symptoms and cosmetic surgery acceptance. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29, 498-509. 

McCall, C., Blascovich, J., Young, A., & Persky, S. (2009). Proxemic behaviors as predictors of aggression towards black (but not white) males in an immersive virtual environment. Social Influence, 4, 138-154.