My research interests fall within the general area of social psychology. A central interest is in "illusion and bias," people's tendency to be deceived and to make suboptimal judgments. Specifically I study:
- Reactions to predicted disasters.
The effects of heuristics/inferential errors and media portrayals of disasters on people's preparatory actions and beliefs about the New Madrid earthquake prediction. Once the disaster failed to occur, the effects of cognitive dissonance, belief perseverance and hindsight biases on beliefs about future disasters and about the Tidal Forces theory used to make the prediction.
- Detecting incompetence.
The roles of the illusion of learning, one's willingness to admit ignorance, and social/conversational norms in making it so difficult for people to recognize imposters and con-artists.
Believing in the Paranormal.
The social psychological factors which lead many people to interpret their unusual experiences as evidence for paranormal entities or forces. I am developing a scale to measure people's belief in and experiences with a host of paranormal phenomena. If you are interested in taking these questionnaires, click here.
- Effects of "fringe therapies." The factors which influence the perceived and/or actual impact of therapeutic touch on healing, music on intellectual functioning, and pheromones on mood and self-esteem.