My lab, the “Culture and Self Lab,” is primarily interested in two overlapping topics. 1) How culture comes to shape people’s selves and ways of thinking, and 2) how people come to make sense of and defend the meanings that constitute their cultures and selves.

Currently, with regards to the first topic, we are exploring how culture shapes the ways that people sleep, how culture differs across people from different generations and political persuasions, and how the match between the meanings that make up one self and the meanings that make up one’s culture predicts well-being. We are also investigating how perceived economic inequality in a culture contributes to a growing competitive orientation.

In the second topic we are currently exploring the ways that moral transgressions can threaten people’s meanings, and the ways that people go about pursuing a meaningful life. In particular, we’ve identified 3 different kinds of purposes (self-cultivation, service, and advancing) that contribute to a meaningful life. We’ve also found that while religiosity positively predicts meaning in life, a faith in science relates negatively to a meaningful life, even among scientists. We also are studying ways of measuring uncanny feelings in response to meaning-threatening events.

I’m also interested in many other kinds of questions, and have also done research on how people view genetic causes in essentialized ways, how the followers of dominant and prestigious leaders differ, how people think about science and scientists, what leads people to make their dietary choices, and how the experience of pain overlaps with other kinds of emotional responses.