Belief Systems and the Perception of Reality

I’m excited to announce that a new edited volume on Belief Systems and the Perception of Reality is available. Bastiaan Rutjens and I edited this volume to highlight a variety of recent social psychological perspectives about how belief systems color our perceptions of facts. This includes people’s perceptions of inequality, climate change, victimization status, and science. By drawing together several different perspectives, we hope that the volume helps people see links between different types of belief systems and reality perceptions.

Table of contents

  • Introduction, Bastiaan T. Rutjens and Mark J. Brandt
  • 1. What is Right is Right: A Three-part Account of How Ideology Shapes Factual Belief, Megan M. Ringel, Cristian G. Rodriguez, and Peter H. Ditto
  • 2. System-level biases in the production and consumption of information: implications for system resilience and radical change, Erin P. Hennes, Adam J. Hampton, Ezgi Ozgumus, and Thomas J. Hamori
  • 3. Ideology and Perceptions of Inequality, Denise Baron, Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington, & Nour Kteily
  • 4. Perceptions of gender inequality in academia: reluctance to let go of individual merit ideology, Romy van der Lee & Naomi Ellemers
  • 5. Populism as political mentality underlying conspiracy theories, Jan-Willem van Prooijen
  • 6. The role of cultural beliefs and existential motivation in suffering perceptions, Daniel Sullivan, Roman Palitsky, and Isaac F. Young
  • 7. Direct and indirect influences of political ideology on perceptions of scientific findings, Sean T. Stevens, Lee Jussim, Stephanie M. Anglin, and Nathan Honeycutt
  • 8. Strategies for promoting strong inferences in political psychology research, Anthony N. Washburn and Linda J. Skitka
  • 9. In genes we trust: on the consequences of genetic essentialism, Anita Schmalor and Steven J. Heine
  • 10. Post-truth, anti-truth, and can’t-handle-the-truth: how responses to science are shaped by concerns about its impact, Robbie M. Sutton, Aino Petterson, and Bastiaan T. Rutjens

Congratulations Dr. Wagemans!

Last Friday, Fieke Wagemans became Dr. Wagemans after defending her dissertation entitled, “The good, the bad, and the gross: Disgust sensitivity and moral judgments”. Her dissertation tested how and why trait disgust sensitivity was associated with different types of moral judgments. This builds upon a long line of work showing that moral judgments are not always rational and considered, but instead also emerge and are shaped by our emotional reactions.

Interested in learning more? You can find her entire dissertation here and one of the chapters was already published in Emotion.

She also did a lot of other work during her PhD, such the effects of skin blemishes on trait impressions, the social side of shame, and a review of how to help political psychology create generalizable knowledge. Plus more in the pipeline. Congrats Fieke!

Reanalyses of the Reproducibility Project: Psychology

The Reproducibility Project: Psychology was published in 2015 and included replications of 100 studies in psychology. The data from this project is open and has been reanalyzed to further our understand of replication, statistics, and methodology in psychology and science more broadly.

This blog post aims to collect a list of articles/preprints/blog entries that have reanalyzed the data from the RPP. If any are missing, please send them to me. Continue reading “Reanalyses of the Reproducibility Project: Psychology”

Getting the Most Out of Replication Studies

This was cross-posted on Dan Kahan’s blog.

Ok. At this point, I think most people know that replications are important and necessary for science to proceed. This is what tells us if a finding is robust to different samples, different lab groups, and minor differences in procedure. If a finding is found, but never replicated is it really a finding? Most working scientists would say no (I hope).

But not all replications are created equal. What makes a convincing replication? A few years ago with a lot of help from collaborators we sat down to figure it out (at least for now; see the open access paper). A convincing replication is rigorously conducted by independent researchers, but there are also another 5 ingredients. Continue reading “Getting the Most Out of Replication Studies”

Book Review: Neither Liberal nor Conservative – Ideological Innocence in the American Public

If there was any kind of standard operating procedure around here, I would say that I was going to do something a bit different today. Today, I’m going to “review” (i.e. organize my thoughts/ramble a bit) about Donald Kinder and Nathan Kalmoe’s book, Neither Liberal nor Conservative – Ideological Innocence in the American Public (publisher’s website). This book is well written, no longer than necessary, and easily digestible.[1] If you are interested in belief systems, you should read it.

The basic idea of this book is in the title. Americans aren’t clearly ideological. They often don’t hold consistent opinions and often don’t endorse any particular ideological label. The meat of the book will be useful for social psychologists and political psychologists to read and digest as it provides a summary and update of some of the ideology literature and provides initial fodder for some interesting research questions. Continue reading “Book Review: Neither Liberal nor Conservative – Ideological Innocence in the American Public”

ERC Starter Grant: Belief Systems Project

I’ve very happy and lucky to announce that I’ve been awarded an ERC Starter Grant to study belief systems as networks (relevant press releases here & here).

With this project, I’m trying to push (as in test and push conceptually) the idea that we can understand belief systems as systems. From this perspective, rather than modeling belief systems like latent variables, we should be modeling belief systems as networks of interconnected attitudes and values. This can help us understand the structure of belief systems, how they connect with personality, perceived threats, and prejudice, and connect work on belief systems with other types of dynamic systems.

This ERC grant will help me significantly advance this line of work by providing funding for new data, as well as funding to hire one post-doc (starting spring-to-mid 2018) and two PhD students. If you are interested in belief systems, networks, dynamic systems etc and interested in living in the Netherlands, get in touch!

News Update

A lot has been happening at the TBS Lab.

New people

Mehmet Tunc joined us to work on a PhD project related to emotions and political decision-making. His first study looked at regret and disappointment in the recent UK election. Rabia Kodapanakkal will join us in September to work on a PhD project looking at the moral psychology of big data.

New papers

Several new papers are published, including a paper on predicting ideological prejudice. The rest can be found on the publications page. Two papers deserve extra highlighting.

  1. The paper by Nina Spälti who looks at the memory based processes that underly support for the status quo. In this paper, she looked at the incumbency advantage (where politicians in office are more likely to win an election) and found that memory queries earlier in the sequence were more likely to be favor of the incumbent and helped account for the incumbency advantage.
  2. The paper by Fieke Wagemans who looks at how disgust sensitivity is related to moral judgments. She finds that disgust sensitivity is most strongly associated with harsh moral judgements in the purity domain than in any of the other moral domains (e.g., harm/care, fairness etc). This provides support for theories that argue for unique moral modules and is inconsistent with theories that suggest that all morality has a common ingredient. Look out for some cool follow-ups to this paper (e.g., if you’ll be at ESCON in August…)!


Cognitive Ability and Prejudice

Jarret Crawford and I recently had our paper “Answering Unresolved Questions about the Relationship between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice” accepted at Social Psychological and Personality Science. [Preprint & SOM]

AbstractPrevious research finds that lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice (Onraet et al., 2015). We test two unresolved questions about this association using a heterogeneous set of target groups and data from a representative sample of the United States (N=5914). First, we test “who are the targets of prejudice?” We replicate prior negative associations between cognitive ability and prejudice for groups who are perceived as liberal, unconventional, and having lower levels of choice over group membership. We find the opposite (i.e. positive associations), however, for groups perceived as conservative, conventional, and having higher levels of choice over group membership. Second, we test “who shows intergroup bias?” and find that people with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup bias, but towards different sets of groups.

Continue reading “Cognitive Ability and Prejudice”

Belief Systems and Stereotype Content

A recent paper by Koch et al was recently published in JPSP. I think it has some nice implications for some of my work.

Belief systems are concerned with hierarchy and traditions, yet the dimensions of social cognition suggest people are primarily concerned about warmth and competence. A new paper resolves this puzzle with a data-drive approach identifying agency/status and conservative-progressive beliefs as primary dimensions of social cognition and warmth/communion as an emergent third.

Continue reading “Belief Systems and Stereotype Content”