Michael A. Kisley, PhD

Michael A. Kisley, PhD

Professor, Associate Dean, College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

Professional Summary

Dr. Kisley joined the UCCS Psychology Department in 2002. Before becoming the Chairperson in 2014 - 2017, he served as the department's Director of Graduate Training for 5 years. Dr. Kisley teaches, conducts research and mentors graduate and undergraduate psychology students in their research and professional development. He is currently the Associate Dean for the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.


PhD Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
MS Aerospace Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, 1994
BS Aerospace Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, 1992

Areas of Interest

Emotional experience and regulation, meta-emotion, affect intolerance, insecure attachment in close adulthood relationships, and attention function, all from an evolutionary perspective.


Professor Kisley teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Biopsychology, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology for the UCCS Psychology Department.


PSY 1000 - General Psychology
PSY 1100 - The Profession of Psychology
PSY 3270 - Introduction to Biopsychology
PSY 4270 - Seminar in Biopsychology
PSY 4470 - Social Neuroscience
PSY 6120 - Neuroscience
PSY 6430 - Contemporary Issues in Psychology

Representative Publications

*Indicates a student author who was supervised by Dr. Kisley

*Bluntschli, J.R., Maxfield, M., *Grasso, R.L. & Kisley, M.A. (2018) The last word: A Comparison of Younger and Older Adults’ Brain Responses to Reminders of Death. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences 73: 555-563.

Escasa-Dorne, M, & Kisley, M.A. (2017) Relationship between sexuality and gender. In T.K. Shackelford & V.A. Weekes-Shackelford (eds.), Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. New York, NY: Springer.

*Lathrop, L.M., *Davis, I.A., Kisley, M.A. (2015) Attention Allocation to Attachment-Related and General Emotional Words: An Event-Related Brain Potential Investigation of the Effects of Attachment-Style and Relationship Status. Edorium Journal of Psychology 1: 22-32.

*Chavis, J.M., & Kisley, M.A. (2012) Adult attachment and motivated attention to social images: Attachment-based differences in event-related brain potentials to emotional images. Journal of Research in Personality 46: 55-62.

*Morgan, L.K., & Kisley, M.A. (2014) The effects of facial attractiveness and perceiver's mate value on adaptive allocation of central processing resources. Evolution & Human Behavior, 35: 96-102.


The fundamental and adaptive importance of emotion, highlighted especially by an evolutionary perspective, remains only weakly influential for the personal understanding and daily-life application of so-called “negative” emotions for many modern humans. Despite the adaptive value of fear to lead one away from danger, or of guilt to impel one to consider social reparations, many otherwise healthy individuals describe such emotions as un-important, unnecessarily distressing, and/or intolerable. Although such devaluing views of uncomfortable emotional experiences may lead an individual to attempt regulating (i.e., changing) their emotions or altering their behavior to avoid acute emotional discomfort, such a view may nevertheless be maladaptive in a broader sense given that emotions have played a vital role in the evolution of Homo sapiens and our ancestral species over millions of years. Indeed, an intolerant “meta-emotional philosophy” is associated with several deleterious psychological experiences for individuals including reduced well-being and life satisfaction, emotional dysregulation, paradoxically increased experiences of negative affect including symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increased levels of worry and stress. Following his sabbatical in 2017, Dr. Kisley launched a new line of research into potential causes and outcomes of intolerant meta-emotional styles that typify so many individuals in the modern world.

Honors & Awards

Outstanding Faculty Member, PSI CHI & Psychology Club, 2013
Outstanding Research Award for the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 2013
Outstanding Teaching Award for the UCCS Campus, 2011
Outstanding Teaching Award for the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 2006

Representative & Recent Service/Leadership Roles

UCCS College of Letters, Arts & Sciences Associate Dean, 2019-Present
UCCS Psychology Department Chairperson, 2014-2017
UCCS Psychology Director of Graduate Training, 2009-2014
Served on several NIH Grant Review Study Sections including most recently the special emphasis panel on "Social Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics of Aging"
Served as ad hoc peer reviewer for more than 40 scientific journals

Curriculum Vitae