Values and Morality
I study the basic nature of human values & morality, including moral emotions, judgment and decision-making, and behavior. I apply this work to understanding value-based bias and disagreement (e.g. the "culture war" in the U.S.), everyday moral hypocrisy, moral identity, and a range of other individual and group differences related to values and morality.
My research on human morality is conducted in close collaboration with Drs. Jonathan Haidt (NYU), Jesse Graham and Ravi Iyer (University of Southern California), Peter Ditto and Sean Wojcik (UC Irvine), and Matt Motyl (University of Illinois Chicago).
Together we developed YourMorals.org - a comprehensive platform for web-based psychological research. Initially the website focused on studies on morality, values, and ideology, but has since expanded to cover most major topics in psychological science. Without any dedicated marketing strategy or resources, we have garnered over half a million registered participants. We use our website to test and refine a variety of theories, but our work is guided primarily by Moral Foundations Theory.
- Recent publications: "Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism."
I have also examined the psychological basis of political attitudes and culture war disagreements, with a special emphasis on morality, personality, and relationship processes.
- Recent publications: "Tracing the threads: How ﬁve moral concerns (especially Purity) help explain
culture war attitudes"
I have examined a number of relationship processes, for exampe how our attachment tendencies (e.g. the extent to which we feel comfortable and secure with intimate partners) relate to our moral concerns and political views.
In a related line of research, I study moral norms for "grey area" relationship behaviors, such as the moral status of dating your best friend's ex or of lying to your partner to spare his/her feelings. This work is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Dylan Selterman at the University of Maryland.
I am also interested in romantic attraction, mate selection, and relationship satisfaction. For example, I have examined the role of morality and political ideology in attraction and satisfaction.
- Recent publications: "The moral compass of insecurity: anxious and avoidant attachment predict moral judgment."
Gender, religious and cultural differences
I am interested in the role of personality and morality as sources of individual difference. In a large manuscript in preparation I examine gender differences in moral concerns and judgments, and the role of emotional tendencies and explaining such differences. The papers draws on over 150,000 participants, including 3 large nationally-representative U.S. datasets.
In another paper I examine the moral profiles of various groups who identify as non-religious (e.g. atheists, agnostics, and those who identify as "spiritual but not religious").
Applied and other
I study a range of other social psychological topics such as positive psychology, perspective taking, prejudice, and implicit attitudes. For example, in a in collaboration with Jamie Luguri, I have looked at the role of beliefs in free will (and determinism) and psychological construal in everyday moral judgment and liking for cultural and ideological outgroups. In collaboration with Calvin Lai and others I tested an online intervention for reducing implicit racial bias. With Gary Zhang I examined the role of connectedness with nature in prosocial behavior.
In addition, I am interested in applied topics such as conservation psychology and sustainability, population health and well-being, public policy, and education. Most recently, I've began a collaboration with The Story of Stuff Project on a large-scale survey of their membership and media impact.
Beyond psychology, I have a working familiarity with selected topics in political science, judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics, environmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, health psychology, cultural anthropology, social endocrinology and neuroscience, and experimental philosophy.