David Chester, Ph.D., in front of greenery

David Chester, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

(804) 828-7624

Thurston House, 808 W. Franklin St., Room 302

Social Psychology




  • Ph.D.: University of Kentucky, 2016

Research Interests

Human aggression is a costly and complex phenomenon. Dr. David Chester's research seeks to understand the psychological and biological processes that motivate and constrain aggressive behavior. For example, Chester is interested in how the brain’s reward circuitry promotes and reinforces aggressive responses to threat, provocation and rejection.

Select Publications

  • Lasko, E.N., & Chester, D.S. (in press). What makes a ‘successful’ psychopath? Longitudinal trajectories of offenders’ antisocial behavior and impulse control as a function of psychopathy. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment.
  • Chester, D.S., Clark, M.A., & DeWall, C.N. (in press). The flux, pulse, and spin of aggression-related affect. Emotion.
  • Chester, D.S., DeWall, C.N., & Enjaian, B. (2019). Sadism and aggressive behavior: Inflicting pain to feel pleasure. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(8), 1252-1268.
  • Chester, D.S., Lynam, D.R., Milich, R., & DeWall, C.N. (2018). Neural mechanisms of the rejection-aggression link. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 13(5), 501-512.
  • Chester, D. S., Lynam, D. R., Milich, R., & DeWall, C. N. (in press). Physical aggressiveness and gray matter deficits in ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Cortex.



  • Advanced Social Psychology, graduate level
  • Personality Psychology, undergraduate level
  • Social Psychology, undergraduate level


  • Dept. of Psychology Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award, VCU, 2019
  • Preregistration Challenge Winner, Center for Open Science, 2018
  • Rising Star, Association for Psychological Science, 2017
  • Young Investigator Program Award, International Society for Research on Aggression, 2016
  • Dissertation Research Award, Heritage Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology, 2015