RESEARCH FOCUS

My research focus is social psychology of belief dynamics. I investigate how people construct beliefs about self, others, groups, and a society when they face uncertainty and disagreement given that uncertainty reduction and internal consistency are two fundamental principles of human psychology. Specific psychological mechanisms of belief dynamics I have been studying include social inference (projection, depersonalization), cognitive limitations (memory limit, forgetting, recency bias), and social influence (majority and minority influence). I also study how macro-level collective behaviors such as social change, diversity, polarization, and intergroup dis/integration emerge from these micro-level psychological mechanisms. I particularly focus on the role of minority dissent in these processes such that how underrepresented minority members respond differently from prototypical majority members to uncertainty and disagreement in groups.

APPROACH & METHOD

Social phenomena can hardly be well understood at a single level of analysis. Many factors at different levels interact to influence one another over a long period of time, and different disciplines focus on different levels of analysis. To understand the micro-mechanisms and macro-consequences of belief dynamics, I combine social psychology and other social sciences with a complex adaptive systems approach. I have been collaborating with interdisciplinary researchers - epistemologists, political scientists, sociologists, and complex systems scientists. Depending on research questions and levels of analysis, I use laboratory and field experiments, surveys, network analysis, and agent-based computational modeling.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS