Part of my research examines the psychological and moral underpinnings of the liberal-conservative divide in American politics. In particular, I am interested in understanding how values motivated reasoning influences people’s judgments and decisions, especially in the realms of attributions for behavior and denial of scientific claims. Initial evidence suggests that liberals and conservatives may be more similar than different when it comes to engagement in motivated reasoning to cope with value-conflicting information. I am also interested in understanding context-dependent and independent explanations for ideological differences and similarities in psychological functioning.
I am interested in understanding the causes and consequences of holding attitudes with moral conviction. Specifically, some of my research examines factors that cause individuals to adjust how morally convicted they feel about certain social issues, persons, or situations. In addition, I am interested in learning how and why we make moral judgments, specifically looking at what components of an action (e.g. harmful outcome, intentionality, knowledge of socially sanctioned outcomes, etc.) are necessary for someone to be judged as moral or immoral.
“Real Life” Research
Another area of interest for me involves examining the psychological processes involved in public reactions to real world events. Most recently, we have examined how desires for revenge for nationally relevant offenses (e.g. 9/11) can influence support or opposition to U.S. military involvement overseas.