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Diversifying Leadership


The way people perceive one another predicts a variety of interpersonal outcomes including who we support for leadership positions. We test what factors predict how we literally perceive political candidates, aspiring CEOs, culture-makers, and others who seek to lead our society. We study things like the linguistic style that reporters use that motivate collective action, the demographics of people featured in articles on successful and struggling leaders, and other factors. In addition to studying adults, we probe the way children perceive leadership and the potential that underrepresented individuals have to serve in powerful positions, investigating the sociocultural and motivational factors that shift children’s beliefs.

Motivated Perception and Legal Decision Making

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The goal of jury members is to perceive the evidence presented to them in objective ways. They make decisions that control the fate of an individual brought to court. While even with the best of intentions for objectivity, people when acting as jury members come to perceive the evidence in biased ways, outside of their awareness. We test what factors change where people look and how they interpret evidence, and explore the consequences for legal decision-making. We test the effectiveness of visually-based interventions on increasing concordance in jurors’ decisions. We also test for those visually-based patterns of looking that undermine full and accurate understanding of case facts and accuracy in decision-making.


Motivated Cognition in
Self Assessment 

We are motivated to think of ourselves as safe and savvy, but a human tendency to think of ourselves as unique complicates our ability to self-assess the risk we face. We test the factors that shift the self and social judgments people make of their own and others' actions. While we study these issues in a variety of context, we currently investigate the impact for risk assessment in cybersecurity, including the sociocultural orientations that shift the accuracy of self and social judgments of risk.

Photo by Jose Aljovin on Unsplash

Motivated Perception and
Health and Fitness


The way people perceive the distance from here to there or the incline of a mountain trail often fails to align perfectly with reality. Often, the outdoor enthusiasts who hold the strongest goals and work the hardest to fulfill their wishes may systematically misperceive environments in ways that spur them onward an upward. Further, physical fitness impacts perceptual experiences, as well. We test what predicts how people see aspects of the physical environment, and how that relates to their ability to meet health and fitness goals. We test the effectiveness of visually-based interventions on promoting behavior change in the moment and longitudinally. We probe consequences for public healthy, policy, urban development, motivation science.

We also explore the impact of visual exposure to social media influencers, particularly among racial and ethnic minority youth, on food choices. We find evidence for the social cognitive and motivational factors that give rise to a differential impact of minority influencers on minority teens' health.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

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