Current Focal Research Areas

My current scientific research can broadly be encapsulated under the following themes, although I am also involved in a broader set of projects on other topics as well.

Community Resilience to Environmental Hazards

Understanding how to enhance resilience in the face of pressing environmental hazards is an important component of promoting effective responses to such hazards. In collaboration with several research teams in the U.S. and Chile, I am working on developing theoretical frameworks and quantitative models of community resilience, drawing on theory from psychology, sociology, and geography, as well as research on indigenous and non-indigenous relations.

To date, this work has involved developing a theoretical approach to the study of resilience, investigating measurement models of resilience in Chile and the United States, and exploring how attachment to place influences life satisfaction and policy attitudes among indigenous and non-indigenous populations. Primary collaborators on this research include Brian Lickel, Roberto Gonzalez, Ezra Markowitz, Susan Clayton, Linda Silka, and Carlie Trott.

Measuring Climate Change Attitudes and Knowledge, and Exploring the Pervasive Influence of Ideology

There is much dispute over how to most effectively measure and understand public attitudes and knowledge about climate change. The pervasive influence of political ideology and other cultural worldviews has presented a dilemma not just for motivating public action on issues of climate and environment, but also for estimating the true underlying relationship between knowledge of such issues and support for policy action.

Work in this domain has include examining public reactions to natural disasters linked with climate change, visual imagery used to depict climate change, and the influence of worldviews on climate change attitudes and knowledge. Primary collaborators on past research in this domain have include Brian Lickel, Ezra Markowitz, and Adam Corner.

In an ongoing set of projects, I am collaborating with Dan Kahan on disentangling the relationship between political beliefs and knowledge in order to validate accurate measures of climate science literacy. In addition, Dan Kahan, Matt Motta, Kathryn Haglin, Dominic Stecula, and I are conducting research demonstrating how critical choices in the wording of climate change opinion measures can markedly influence public polling estimates of climate change belief in the United States.

Science Curiosity

The potential role of science curiosity as a motivator of increased science literacy and public support for scientific research and funding has received increased attention from scholars in psychology and science communication in recent years. While dating back at least as far as the philosophical developments of William James and John Dewey, empirical research on the subject often has suffered from shortcomings in measurement and interpretation. In collaboration with Dan Kahan, Matt Motta, and Kathryn Haglin, we are conducting research on validating measures of science curiosity, examining their functional relationship with other cognitive dimensions (e.g., cognitive reflection, science intelligence), and examining how to both foster and harness the positive benefits of a science curious population.