How Do People Make Evaluative Judgments?

A substantial body of our research has investigated the processes underlying evaluations of objects, individuals, groups, and social issues. This work has been guided by the associative-propositional evaluation (APE) model, a dual-process theory that distinguishes between the activation of associations in memory and the validation of propositional information implied by activated associations (Gawronski & Bodenhausen, 2006, 2011). The APE model has been instrumental in providing deeper insights into the determinants of spontaneous and deliberate evaluations, as captured by implicit and explicit measures. Expanding on this research, a related line of work has investigated the processes and representations underlying contextualized attitude change (Gawronski, Rydell, De Houwer, Brannon, Ye, Vervliet, & Hu, 2018), focusing specifically on the context-sensitivity of spontaneous evaluations (Gawronski & Ceseario, 2013). In an ongoing line of research, we are using a multinomial modeling approach to gain deeper insights into the role of associative and propositional processes at different stages in the formation and behavioral expression of evaluative representations (Heycke & Gawronski, 2020).

How Do People Make Truth Judgments?

In a second line of research, we are investigating why people fall for misinformation (e.g., fake news). We are particularly interested in how people determine whether new information they encounter is true or false, and how people decide whether to share information on social media. Using a signal detection approach, our research focuses on three aspects of such judgments: (a) the ability to distinguish between true and false information, (b) general tendencies to accept versus reject information regardless of veracity, and (c) partisan bias involving a tendency to accept information that is consistent with one’s personal beliefs and dismiss information that is inconsistent with one’s personal beliefs (Batailler, Brannon, Teas, & Gawronski, 2022; Gawronski, Ng, & Luke, 2023). Some of the questions we aim to address in this line of work are: What is the relative contribution of truth discernment and partisan bias to misinformation susceptibility? How does the source of information influence truth discernment and partisan bias? How can we improve truth discernment and reduce partisan bias in responses to misinformation?

How Do People Make Moral Judgments?

In a third line of research, we are investigating the processes underlying moral judgments and decisions. Drawing on the distinction between norm-based morality (deontology) and outcome-based morality (utilitarianism), our work aims at identifying the contribution of multiple distinct processes to responses in moral dilemmas. Prominent examples of such dilemmas are cases where violations of a moral norm lead to better overall outcomes (e.g., when causing harm to a small number of people would protect the well-being of a larger number of people). To disentangle the role of multiple distinct factors in responses to moral dilemmas, we have developed a multinomial model called the CNI model, which quantifies (1) sensitivity to consequences, (2) sensitivity to moral norms, and (3) general preference for inaction versus action (Gawronski, Armstrong, Conway, Friesdorf, & Hütter, 2017). Using the CNI model, our research has provided deeper insights into the effects of various contextual factors on moral judgments, including effects of incidental emotions (Gawronski, Conway, Armstrong, Friesdorf, & Hütter, 2018), foreign language use (Bialek, Paruzel-Czachura, & Gawronski, 2019), social power (Gawronski & Brannon, 2020), and neuroendocrine factors (Brannon, Carr, Jin, Josephs, & Gawronski, 2019). In our ongoing research, we are investigating individual differences in moral judgments and behavioral correlates such as prosocial and antisocial behavior.

Research Funding and Awards

Our research has been generously supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Research Fund, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation. In addition, members of the Social Cognition Lab have received numerous awards for their research, including the Theoretical Innovation Prize from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Career Trajectory Award from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Carol and Ed Diener Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Mid-Career Award from the Attitudes and Social Influence Group, the Early Career Award from the International Social Cognition Network, the Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Best Social Cognition Paper Award from the International Social Cognition Network, the Charlotte-and-Karl-Bühler Prize from the German Psychological Society, the Early Career Best Paper Award from the European Journal of Social Psychology, the Faculty Scholar Award from the University of Western Ontario, the Dissertation Award from Society of Experimental Social Psychology, multiple Graduate Student Travel Awards from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, as well as doctoral and postdoctoral fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program, the Fonds Quebeqois de la Recherche sur la Societe et la Culture, and the Richard J. Schmeelk Program.


Department of Psychology | University of Texas at Austin
© Copyright 2013 Bertram Gawronski. All rights reserved.