Social Psychology

Overconfidence and Anti-Vaccination Attitudes

There is strong consensus among scientists that vaccines are safe and effective in combating the spread of disease. Why, then, does such a large segment of the public believe false claims of a link between vaccines and autism and hold “anti-vax” attitudes? Matthew Motta, Timothy Callaghan, and Steven Sylvester (2018) suggested that this is due [...]

Severe Mental Illness and Firearm Access

In the United States, severe mental illness is frequently cited as a primary cause of mass shootings and high rates of gun violence. Miranda Lynne Baumann and Brent Teasdale (2018) investigated this relationship by comparing rates of gun violence among 255 recently discharged psychiatric patients and a matched group of 490 community residents. These authors [...]

Risk Factors for Homelessness among Women U.S. Military Veterans

According to Dichter, Wagner, Borrero, Broyles, and Montgomery (2017), the rate of homelessness among female veterans is higher than for their male counterparts or for female or male nonveterans. In response to the lack of data available on the risk factors contributing to female veteran homelessness, these authors surveyed 554 women receiving care from the [...]

Predictors of Long-Term Opioid Use

An increase in opioid use disorders and fatal overdoses has resulted in a public health crisis in many regions of the United States and Canada. At the same time, as Thielke and colleagues (2017) pointed out, there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of the long-term use of opioids to treat chronic pain. Thus, [...]

Using Implicit and Explicit Social Pressure to Increase Voter Turnout

Although get-out-the-vote mailers are frequently used in political campaigns to increase voter turnout, Matland and Murray (2016) point out that they are fairly ineffective. One particular type of mailer using explicit pressure has been shown to increase voter turnout. These “self-mailers” include information about the recipient’s voting history and implies that the sender will be [...]

Using Social Norms to Enhance Pro-environmental Behavior

This study built on previous research (e.g., Goldstein, Cialdini, & Griskevicius, 2008) demonstrating that social norms could be used to increase pro-environmental behaviors. One of three types of messages were posted in hotel rooms in Central European alpine resorts: (1) towel reuse protects the environment (no social norm information), (2) most guests in this hotel [...]

Racial Profiling May Increase Transgressions by Whites

There is much evidence of racial profiling in the United States, targeting African Americans and Latino/as in particular. According to Hackney and Glaser (2013, p.1), racial profiling occurs when members of specific groups are “subjected to stops and searches by police at rates disproportionate to their representation in the population and their rates of offending.” [...]

Native Land Reclamation: Predicting Motivation to Participate in Collective Action

In order to predict whether individuals will join in collective action, most psychological studies turn to social identity theory. According to this approach, people are more likely to join in collective action if they have a strong collective identity, particularly if their group is perceived as threatened in some way. Giguère, Lalonde, and Jonsson (2012) [...]

Psychological Barriers to Climate Change Action

Robert Gifford (2011) proposed that while some of the barriers to taking action about climate change are structural (e.g., buying solar panels is not affordable or riding a bike to work is impractical), many are psychological. He identified seven categories of “dragons of inaction”: (1) Limited cognition – the human brain has difficulty grasping threats [...]

A Social Cognitive Model of the Digital Divide

In a world where educational and employment opportunities are increasingly tied to computer use, unequal access to information technology – known as the digital divide – is a significant public policy issue. Efforts to address this problem often focus on increasing access to public computers in schools and libraries. Yet, little is known about the [...]