Research Interests

My research examines the relation between social-cognitive processes and relationships, including both dyadic and group relationships. Much of my current research explores the nature and consequences of identity fusion, which occurs when group members experience a sense of union with a group. Our findings suggest that when people’s personal and social selves become fused, they express willingness to engage in extraordinary behaviors in the service of their group membership, such as fighting or dying for the group. We have also explored the relationship of fusion to social ostracism, the victory/defeat of one’s political party, and the willingness of transsexuals to endure gender reassignment surgery. In every instance, we have discovered that identity fused persons are exceptionally willing to endorse extreme actions for the group.

I am also intrigued with the interplay of self-verification and self-enhancement, the mechanisms underlying the endowment effect, and the nature and measurement of implicit self-esteem. All of these projects are specific illustrations of the importance of the processes through which people negotiate their identities in social settings.

Finally, at several points in my career I have developed a scale to answer a specific question I had involving the self or relationships or the interplay between the two. These scales can be found on the “Questionnaires” page of my website. The primary scales include a measure of self-concepts (the “SAQ”) published in 1989 with Brett Pelham, and measure of self-esteem (the “SLCS”) published in 2001 with Romin Tafarodi, a brief measure of the Big 5 personality traits (the “TIPI”), and a measure of verbal inhibition or Blirtatiousness (the BLIRT”) published in 2001 with Jason Rentfrow. If you are interested in learning your score on the Blirt, click here.