Michelle RizzellaAssociate Professor of Psychological Science

Joined faculty in 1996

B.A., SUNY at Stonybrook
M.A., University of New Hampshire
Ph.D., University of New Hampshire

Contact Information

Gulick HallPhone (315) 781-3465

Scholarly Interest

Basic Memory Processes
Autobiographical Memory
Discourse Processing

Courses Taught

PSY 201 Statistics
PSY 202 Research Methods
PSY 231 Cognitive Psychology
PSY 335 Theory & Seminar in Cognition
PSY 435 Capstone in Cognition
PSY 375 Topics in Cognitive Psychology


Brind*, A. & Rizzella, M.L. (2022) How Character Knowledge Affects Comprehension Processing. Presentation to be presented at the 32ndt Annual Meeting of the Society of Text & Discourse, Atlanta, Ga

O'Brien, E.J., Albrecht, J.E., Hakala, C.M., & Rizzella, M.L. (1995). "Activation and suppression of antecedents during reinstatement," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 21, 626-634.

Rizzella, M.L., & O'Brien, E.J. (1996). "Accessing global causes during reading," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 22, 1208-1218.

O'Brien, E.J., Rizzella, M.L., Albrecht, J.E., & Halleran, J.A. (1998). "Updating situational models," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 24, 1200-1210.

Rizzella, M.L., MacEachern*, K.M., Buckenmaier*, S.R. & O’Brien, E.J. (2021). The Effects of Context on the Comprehension of Semantic Anomalies. Presentation to be presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Society of Text & Discourse, Chicago, Il.

Rizzella, M.L., & O'Brien, E.J. (2002). "Retrieval of concepts in script-based texts and narratives: The influence of general world knowledge," Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 28, 780-790.

Rizzella, M.L.& O’Brien, E.J. (2019). When prospective information conflicts with current information. Poster to be presented at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Society of Text & Discourse, New York City, NY.

Rizzella, M.L., Smith*, Rachael, McConnell*, Margaret, Chibnall*, C. (2014). The impact of context on the activation and generation of elaborative inferences. Poster presented at the 85th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Boston, MA.

*denotes student author


American Psychological Association
Phi Beta Kappa
Sigma Xi
Psi Chi
Teaching of Psychology Society


Cognitive psychologists are interested in the mental aspect of human behavior: how humans take in input from the environment; how that input is represented in memory in a meaningful way; how information is organized in memory; how it is retrieved and used for certain tasks such as making decisions and solving problems. Because cognitive processes are not directly observable, we make three assumptions regarding the nature of cognitive processes: 1. they are systematic, lawful events; 2. they are open to scientific examination; and 3. how they operate are revealed by time and accuracy measures.

My research program focuses on reading comprehension. One goal of my research is to contribute to theories in reading grounded in established memory processes. Of particular interest to me is the nature of the mental representation of text in memory and the type of processes involved in the development of the representation. Phenomena investigated in my laboratory include interactive effects of context and general world knowledge on comprehension, reader perspective-taking, processing of inaccurate information and how character knowledge impacts comprehension.