David Chester, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Director, Social Psychology
808 W Franklin, rm 302
(804) 828-7624

Assistant Professor (tenure-track)
Director, Social Psychology
Ph.D. (2016), University of Kentucky

Doctoral Program Affiliation

Social Psychology


Social Psychology and Neuroscience Lab

Research Interests

Human aggression is a costly and complex phenomenon. My research seeks to understand the psychological and biological processes that motivate and constrain aggressive behavior. For example, I am interested in how the brain’s reward circuitry promotes and reinforces aggressive responses to threat, provocation and rejection.

Select Publications

Chester, D. S. (in press). The role of positive affect in aggression. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 
Chester, D. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2017). Combating the sting of rejection with the pleasure of revenge: A new look at how emotion shapes aggression. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 112, 413-430.
Chester, D. S., DeWall, C. N., Derefinko, K. J., Estus, S., Lynam, D. R., Peters, J. R., & Jiang, Y. (2016). Looking for reward in all the wrong places: Dopamine receptor polymorphisms correlate with aggression through increased sensation-seeking. Social Neuroscience, 11, 487-494.
Chester, D. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2016). The pleasure of revenge: Retaliatory aggression arises from a neural imbalance toward reward. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1173-1182.
Chester, D. S., Lynam, D. R., Milich, R., Powell, D. K., Andersen, A. H., & DeWall, C. N. (2016). How do negative emotions impair self-control? A neural model of negative urgency. NeuroImage, 132, 43-50.

Recent Courses

  • Personality Psychology, undergraduate level
  • Social Psychology, undergraduate level
  • Advanced Social Psychology, graduate level

Recent Grants

Testing a Cyclical Model of Aggression and Alcohol Abuse: An fMRI Study

Amount: $3,100
Role: Principal Investigator
Source: R.S. Lipman Research Fund for the Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Period: 2014-2016

The Rewarding Nature of Angry Rumination in Borderline Personality Disorder: An fMRI Investigation

Amount: $7,575
Role: Co-Investigator
Source: University of Kentucky’s Office of the Vice President for Research
Period: 2013-2014

Recent Awards

  • 2016, Young Investigator Program Award, International Society for Research on Aggression
  • 2015, Dissertation Research Award, Heritage Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology
  • 2015, Dissertation Year Fellowship, University of Kentucky
  • 2012, Outstanding Research Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology

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