Broadly, I take a social psychological approach to studying existential topics such as belief in God, how we cope with our own mortality and what it means to humans to be human, and I use the experimental method to do so.
I am fascinated by why people believe in God(s) and life after death, particularly belief in punishing supernatural concepts. Colleagues and I are currently testing the possibility that unpunished moral violations heighten belief in the existence of, and severity of punishment in, hell.
My second area of interest is in the psychology of death and dying. I am particularly interested in how death salience impacts emotions and views of the self. Current research in this area is testing how death salience can have positive psychological effects when it motivates heightened engagement in life, relative to heightened avoidance of death.
My third area of research is in why and how people dehumanize others. This research to data has typically tested the dehumanizing impact of focusing primarily on another person's physical appearance (i.e., it causes them to be perceived of as more like an object).
I also have interests in the self-perceived objectivity of opinions, how certain goals and motivations impact our most basic senses and in why people are so motivated to justify and support the way things are, especially when doing so has negative consequences for them.