The role of political ideology in intergroup perception and judgment
Liberals and conservatives frequently fail to see "eye-to-eye" on a variety of different issues in everyday life. In one line of work we integrate political psychology research with classic perspectives in social cognition to understand how political ideology shapes basic social perception processes in intergroup domains. For example, we examine the extent to which liberals and conservatives use stereotypes to make inferences about the world, how they categorize others into groups, and what information shapes the attitudes that they develop about people and groups. We explore these questions in a variety of different domains (e.g., gender, race, sexual orientation, class) to broadly understand the role of political ideology in modern intergroup relations. In ongoing projects, we are investigating how cognitive and motivational differences between liberals and conservatives (e.g., differences in the desire for order and structure) underlie these social perception processes.
Consensus in political groups
Psychologists have long argued that generating a shared understanding of the world is central to developing social connections and effectively navigating everyday life. In this line of work, we examine consensus in political groups. For example, we examine how much people think they agree with like-minded others, whether people's perceptions are accurate, and how much attitude agreement actually exists in political groups. In ongoing projects we are investigating whether there is variation in perceived and actual consensus across social contexts (e.g., different countries throughout the world) and attitude issues (e.g., social versus economic issues, political versus non-political topics). We are also investigating the formation of consensus in political groups, and how levels of consensus impact stability and order.
Most current projects fall within two areas of research.