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Max E. Butterfield, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology

Dr. Butterfield is an experimental social psychologist who joined the PLNU community 2013. He is the lead investigator in the Social Psychology and Influence (SPIN) Lab, which studies social influence, behavioral economics, social cognition, and judgment and decision making. Recently, Dr. Butterfield and his team have been focused on uncovering hidden influences on our spending, saving, and investing habits; exploring how our thoughts about others form and change in response to small cues from our social world; and understanding cognitive shortcuts that reduce the effectiveness of our decisions and judgment. Being a researcher also allows him to continually hone his skills for other vocational passions: teaching; mentoring; and encouraging excitement, curiosity and social engagement among PLNU students. The overarching purpose of all these activities is to use psychological science to improve lives, shape experiences, and bring positive change to the world. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Butterfield and his research, or if you'd like to apply to join the SPIN Lab, please send him an email or give him a call. Better yet, stop by to chat!


  • Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Texas Christian University
  • M.S., Experimental Psychology, Texas Christian University
  • M.S., Clinical Psychology, Eastern Michigan University
  • B.A., Psychology, Calvin College

Courses Taught

  • General Psychology - PSY 103
  • Social Psychology - PSY 320
  • Research Methods and Statistics I - PSY 390
  • Research Methods and Statistics II - PSY 391
  • History and Contemporary Issues in Psychology - PSY 400
  • Cognition and Learning - PSY 409
  • Independent Research in Psychology - PSY499

Experience in Field

  • Principal Investigator, Social Psychology and Influence Lab, Point Loma Nazarene University, August 2013 - present
  • Biostatistician and Research Design Consultant, Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine, June 2011 - present
  • Social Psychology Research Assistant, Texas Christian University, August 2009 - May 2013
  • Clinical Psychology Research Assistant, Eastern Michigan University, August 2007 - April 2009
  • Graduate Student Therapist, Eastern Michigan University Counseling and Psychological Services, August 2008 – May 2009
  • Youth Treatment Specialist, Wedgwood Christian Services, January 2003 – May 2005

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Ad Hoc Reviewer, Various Psychology Journals, June 2011 - present
  • Institutional Review Board, Chair, May 2015 - May 2017
  • Institutional Review Board, Member, May 2014- May 2018
  • Health Professions Advisory Committee, January 2014 - January 2015
  • Psi Chi, Member
  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Member
  • Western Psychological Association, Member

Awards and Honors

  • Western Psychological Association, Psi Chi Regional Research Award, 2016 ($300)
  • Western Psychological Foundation Student Scholarship Poster Competition, 2016 ($500)
  • PLNU Vocation Grant via the Lily Foundation and the Council of Independent College Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), 2015 ($2000)
  • PLNU Alumni Association Faculty Grant, 2015 ($2000)
  • Fellow, APA-USNC International Mentoring Program, 30th International Psychology Congress Cape Town, South Africa, 2012 ($1900)
  • Fellow, 2011 Summer Institute in Social Psychology, Princeton University (approx. value, $3000)
  • TCU Dean’s Travel Grant, 2012 ($1,100)
  • TCU International Travel Grant, 2012 ($800)
  • Best Poster, Session II, 2009 Annual Midwinter Meeting of the Society for Personality Assessment, Chicago, IL ($450)

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • Rus, A. V., Stativa, E., Butterfield, M. E., Pennings, J. S., Parris, S. R., Burcea, G., Wenyika, R. (2016). Peer exploitation: Findings from a Romanian nationally representative sample of children living in long-term residential centres. Child Abuse Review. 
  • "Butterfield, M. E., Saal, J., Young, B., & Young, J. L. (2016). Supplementary guanfacine hydrochloride as a treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults: A double
    blind, placebo-controlled study. Psychiatry Research, 236, 136-41. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.12.017"
  • "Ciff, S., Rus, A. V., Butterfield, M. E., & Parris, S. R. (2015). Effects of rational-emotive behavior therapy on Romanian foster parents’ psychological functioning and their
    perceived parenting. Review of Research and Social Intervention [Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala], 50, 209-224."
  • "Stativa, E., Rus, A. V., Suciu, N., Pennings, J. S., Butterfield, M. E., Wenyika, R., Webster, R. (2014). Characteristics and prenatal care utilisation of Romanian pregnant women. European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 19(3): 220-6. doi:10.3109/13625187.2014.907399."
  • "Hill, S. E. Delpriore, D. J., Rodeheffer, C. D., & Butterfield, M. E. (2014). The effect of ecological harshness on perceptions of the ideal female body size: An experimental life
    history approach. Evolution and Human Behavior, 35(2), 148-154."
  • Rus, A. V., Butterfield, M. E., Cross, D. R., Purvis, K. B., Parris, S. R., Cliff, S. (2014). Early care experiences and later functioning of Romanian foster children. Review of Research and Social Intervention [Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala], 44, 20-43.
  • Russell, E. M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11(1), 132-147.
  • Hill S. E., Rodeheffer, C. D., DelPriore, D. J., & Butterfield, M. E. (2013). Ecological contingencies in women’s calorie regulation psychology: A life history approach. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 888-897. 
  • Butterfield, M. E. (2013). Dangerous dog or dastardly dude? Anthropomorphism, threat, and willingness to approach non-human targets (Doctoral Dissertation). Fort Worth, Tex.: Texas Christian University.
  • Butterfield, M. E., Hill, S. E., & Lord, C. G. (2012). Mangy mutt or furry friend? Anthropomorphism promotes animal welfare. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 957-960. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.02.010