My research exists at the intersection of judgment and decision-making, social cognition, and motivation. I examine the mental processes that produce judgments and behavior, and especially how these processes can be influenced by factors outside of people’s awareness, such as their internal motivations or the external environment.
One of my primary areas of interest is in the realm of well-being and decision satisfaction. We make purchase decisions every day, each with the overarching goal of making ourselves happier. And yet, many of these purchases do not achieve this purpose. My work examines where consumers go wrong when they pursue happiness through purchases. What kinds of purchases are most likely to be satisfying, and ultimately increase well-being? How do factors in the decision environment impact satisfaction with a purchase, independent of the actual purchase made? How might decision-makers minimize shortsightedness in purchase decisions, and develop more accurate intuitions about what will make them happy? I am greatly interested in the cognitive, motivational, and affective mechanisms involved in consumer decisions, with the hope that understanding how they function can improve satisfaction with those decisions.
Another central area of interest is in the arena of nonconscious cognition. Nonconscious processes, the cognitions operating behind the curtain of consciousness, play a much larger role in our judgments, decisions and behaviors than we typically assume. My research systematically investigates how the interactions between internal and external forces shape these nonconscious operations. How do internal forces, such as our personal desires and other motivational states, operate outside of consciousness? How and when does the external environment—the mere presence of certain meaningful stimuli—influence our behavior without our awareness? What sorts of effects do these forces have on matters of great social consequence, such as political beliefs and behavior? Conversely, how do our political beliefs alter the way we process and interact with the world around us? It is hoped that a greater understanding of how these invisible forces and processes operate might alleviate some of their negative consequences, such as failures of self-control or the introduction of an undesirable bias.