Zita  Oravecz 

photo of Zita Oravecz

Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

216 Health and Human Development
University Park PA 16802





Research Interests

My primary research interest lies in studying individual differences from a process modeling perspective. The general goal is to develop and apply state-of-the-art statistical approaches to particular areas of substantive research (in my case emotion and cognition) that would be difficult or impossible to study without novel methods of analysis.

One model of particular interest is the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process model that describes temporal changes in terms of psychologically meaningful parameters. I am currently developing a multivariate version of the model to capture changes and synchronicity in different aspects of well-being over time.

I implement models in the Bayesian statistical framework. Bayesian methods represent a principled and flexible approach to turn complex theoretical models into viable research tools. I am especially interested in how they can be used for the analysis of continuously streaming data (from social media, health monitors etc.) through sequential updating routines. The goal is to allow continuous inference from multivariate latent variable models on voluminous information streams in a timely manner.


M.S., 2004, Psychology, University of Debrecen (Hungary)
Ph.D., 2009, Quantitative Psychology, University of Leuven (Belgium)

Professional Experience

  • 2014- Present, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University.
  • 2011-2014, Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Irvine
  • 2009-2010, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Leuven (Belgium)

Selected Publications

Oravecz, Z., Anders, R. & Batchelder, W. H. (in press): Test theory without an answer key in the hierarchical Bayesian modeling framework. Psychometrika.

Anders, R., Oravecz, Z., & Batchelder, W. H. (2014): Cultural Consensus Theory for Continuous Responses- A Latent Appraisal Model for Information Pooling. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 61, 1-13.

Oravecz, Z., Faust, K., & Batchelder, W. H. (2014): An extended Cultural Consensus Theory model to account for cognitive processes for decision making in social surveys. Sociological Methodology, 444, 185-228.

Oravecz, Z., Tuerlinckx, F., & Vandekerckhove, J. (2011). A hierarchical latent stochastic differential equation model for affective dynamics. Psychological Methods, 16, 468-490.

Oravecz, Z., & Tuerlinckx, F. (2011). The linear mixed model and the hierarchical Ornstein-Uhlenbeck model: Some Equivalences and differences. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 64, 134-160.

Kuppens, P., Oravecz, Z., & Tuerlinckx, F. (2010). Feelings change: Accounting for individual differences in the temporal dynamics of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 99, 1042-1060.

Strategic Themes

  • Methodology