Dr. Horhota was raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, a small city near Niagara Falls in Southern Ontario. She was first exposed to psychology when she was in middle school. She and her classmates were given a rat to take care of and to train to learn to run a maze. Although she quickly learned that studying rats was not for her (they bite!), she became fascinated with the idea of scientifically studying behavior.

Dr. Horhota went to the University of Toronto for her undergraduate degree and was accepted into the inaugural class of the “Research Specialist Program” in Psychology. This gave her the opportunity to conduct research and take courses in a small class environment. In Toronto, she became interested in understanding how social processes differ between individuals of different ages. Dr. Horhota worked at the Hospital for Sick Children with Dr. Susan Goldberg studying infant attachment. Specifically, they were interested in how mothers conveyed emotional information to their babies, and how the patterns of emotions differed across attachment styles. At the same time, Dr. Horhota worked with Dr. Alison Chasteen studying how older adults’ memory performance differed based on their motivation and how social situations can influence memory performance. She decided to focus her studies on the latter half of the life-span and headed south in search of warm weather and retirees.

Dr. Horhota completed both her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Cognitive Aging at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga. working under the mentorship of Dr. Fredda Blanchard-Fields. For her Masters, she studied how people’s personal beliefs impact the social judgments they make about other people. In her dissertation, Dr. Horhota examined interpersonal communication and impression formation in young, middle-aged and older adults.

Dr. Horhota joined the Furman faculty in 2008. Since that time, her research has continued to focus on the social judgments of older adults, and understanding the role of beliefs and stereotypes on memory performance. She has also been involved with the Conservation Culture Research Initiative through the Shi Center for Sustainability.

Name Title Description


General Psychology

Comprehensive introduction to psychology as a behavioral science through a survey of historical, empirical, and theoretical perspectives of psychological research. Topics include: biological bases of behavior, development, learning, personality, cognition, perception, motivation, behavior disorders, and social psychology. Students must either participate in research projects or write summaries of published research articles.


Adulthood and Aging

Developmental changes across adulthood. Includes topics such as changes in memory functioning, physicality, caregiving, and socio-emotional processing. Selected topics related to atypical aging, such as Alzheimer's disease and living to be a centenarian will also be addressed.


Current Topics in Aging

This seminar requires students to read and discuss primary literature on current issues in the study of Adulthood and Aging. Topics may include memory, everyday problem solving, communication, caregiving, social networks and lifestyle. Group and independent research involving on-site observations and working directly with seniors will be required.

Often, we hear about studies that focus on declines that occur with older age. In my lab, I am interested in studying areas in which adults continue to grow and develop with age. Much of my research examines how older adults' beliefs and experiences inform their social and cognitive functioning in social situations. For example, during intergenerational communications, how do people adjust their speech to adapt to the person they are speaking with? And how do a person’s beliefs influence their perceptions of social situations and the judgments they form of others? I am also interested in the role of personal beliefs and expectations on cognitive outcomes such as memory. For example, what memory strategies do older adults believe will positively affect their memory performance? Do these strategies actually work?

The overarching goal of my research is to better understand the types of behaviors that are adaptive for adults in social situations. The hope is that understanding the underlying processes that drive behavior will not only reveal when older adults will show poor judgment in social situations, but also when they will instead benefit from their accumulated experience and demonstrate exceptional performance.

From the time I stepped onto Furman’s campus, I have also been involved with the Shi Center for Sustainability as part of the Conservation Culture Research Initiative. My role in this collaborative team is to research beliefs about environmental issues and monitor behavioral changes on campus as Furman implements sustainability initiatives on campus. I am also interested in outreach to the greater Greenville community and am involved in research projects examining the impact of sustainability initiatives on older adults’ sense of well-being and cognitive outcomes.

  • Horhota, M., Mienaltowski, A., & Chen, Y. (in press). Causal attributions across the Adult Lifespan. In P. Verhaeghen & C. Hertzog (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Emotion, Social Cognition, and Everyday Problem Solving during Adulthood. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.
  • Blanchard-Fields, F., Hertzog, C. & Horhota, M. (2012) Violate My Beliefs? – Then You’re to Blame! Belief Content as an Explanation for Causal Attribution Biases. Psychology and Aging, 27, 324-337. doi: 10.1037/a0024423.
  • Horhota, M., Lineweaver, T., Ositelu, M., Summers, K. & Hertzog, C. (2012). Young and older adults’ beliefs about effective ways to mitigate memory decline. Psychology and Aging, 27, 293-304. doi: 10.1037/a0026088.
  • Horhota, M., Mienaltowski, A., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2012). If only I had taken my usual route… : Age-related differences in counter-factual thinking. Aging, Neuropsychology & Cognition, 19, 339-361. DOI:10.1080/13825585.2011.615904
  • Horhota, M., Einstein, G.O., & McDaniel, M.A. (2011). Physical and Cognitive Function. In V.A. Hirth, D. Wieland & M. Dever-Bumba (Eds.) Case-based geriatrics: A global approach (pp.21-33). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Hertzog, C., McGuire, C. L., Horhota, M., & Jopp, D. (2010). Does believing in “Use it or Lose it” relate to self-rated memory control, strategy use, and recall? International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 70(1), 61-87.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Toronto

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