David S Chester, Ph.D.


808 W. Franklin St.
Room 302
(804) 828-7624

Director of the SPN Lab
Assistant Professor in the VCU Department of Psychology
Director of the VCU Social Psychology Doctoral Program

Full curriculum vitae [PDF]

In my research, I am passionate about understanding why people hurt each other. My motivation to understand human aggression grew in my undergraduate education at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. After graduation, I honed my research skills in the University of Michigan's Aggression Research Group and as a lab manager at the University of Texas at Austin. I completed my doctorate in social psychology at the University of Kentucky under the guidance of Nathan DeWall, Ph.D. I have synthesized these experiences in psychological and neural science to better understand aggressive behavior. 

In my time outside of the office, classroom and laboratory, I like to run (relatively) long distances, hike and camp, hang out with my dog Willie and build things out of rocks as a stone mason.


  • PSYC 321 - Social Psychology
  • PSYC 309 - Personality
  • PSYC 630 - Advanced Social Psychology

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