I am interested in "hot cognition" -- the interface between passion and reason. My research examines the role of motivation and emotion in social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgment. Most generally, I have sought to explain the phenomenon of "motivated reasoning" -- how the desire to reach a particular conclusion biases the processing of information related to that conclusion. My early work examined the role such biases play in how people respond to threatening medical information (e.g., denial). More recently, my work has been focused on motivated moral reasoning, particularly how people selectively recruit general principles and factual beliefs to support desired moral conclusions. Another key focus of my current research is partisan political bias. This work examines the multiple ways that political ideology biases our political judgments and behavior. Finally, I am interested in a variety of psychological issues involved in end-of-life medical decision making.
Web Links of Research Sites
Web Links of Interest
- Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality
- Civil Politics (an organization dedicated to constructive political dialogue)
Disclaimer: The articles provided on this website as pdfs were published by journals and thus copyrighted to them. These links are intended to facilitate the accepted practice that authors are allowed to distribute copies of their articles to interested parties for personal use. No commercial use may be made of the articles nor is mass production of the articles permitted.
- Tannenbaum, D., Valasek, C. J., Knowles, E. D., & Ditto, P. H. (in press). Incentivizing wellness in the workplace: Sticks (not carrots) send stigmatizing signals. Psychological Science.
- Liu, B., & Ditto, P. H. (in press). What dilemma? Moral evaluation shapes factual belief. Social Psychological and Personality Science.
- Ditto, P. H., Liu, B., & Wojcik, S. P. (2012). Is anything sacred anymore? Psychological Inquiry, 23, 155-161.
- Iyer, R., Koleva, S., Graham, J., Ditto, P. H., & Haidt, J. (2012). Understanding libertarian morality: The psychological dispositions of self-identified libertarians. PLoS ONE.
- Jacobson, J. A., Ji, L., Ditto, P. H., Zhang, Z., Sorkin, D., Warren, S. K., Legnini, V., Ebel-Lam, A., Roper-Coleman, S. (2012). The effects of culture and self-construal on responses to threatening health information. Psychology and Health, 27, 1194-1210.
- Koleva, S. P., Graham, J., Iyer, R., Ditto, P. H., & Haidt, J. (2012). Tracing the threads: How five moral concerns (especially Purity) help explain political attitudes. Journal of Research in Personality, 46, 184-194.
- Ditto, P. H., & Koleva, S. P. (2011). Moral empathy gaps and the American culture war. Emotion Review, 3, 331-332.
- Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 201, 366-385.
- Iyer, R., Graham, J., Koleva, S., Ditto, P., Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond identity politics: Moral psychology and the 2008 Democratic primary. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 10, 293-306.
- Ditto P. H., & Mastronarde, A. J. (2009). The paradox of the political maverick. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 295-298.
- Uhlmann, E. L., Pizarro, D.A., Tannenbaum, D., & Ditto, P. H. (2009). The motivated use of moral principles. Judgment and Decision Making, 4, 476-491.
- Lench. H. C., & Ditto, P. H. (2008). Automatic optimism: Biased use of base rate information for positive and negative events. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 631-639.
- Sharman, S. J., Garry, M., Jacobson, J. A., Loftus, E. F., & Ditto, P. H. (2008). False memories of end-of-life decisions. Health Psychology, 27, 291-296.
- Ditto, P. H. (2006). What would Terri want? On the psychological challenges of surrogate decision making. Death Studies, 30, 135-148.
- Ditto, P. H., Hawkins, N. A., & Pizarro, D. A. (2006). Imagining the end of life: On the psychology of advance medical decision making. Motivation and Emotion, 29, 475-496.
- Ditto, P. H., Jacobson, J. A., Smucker, W. D., Danks, J. H., & Fagerlin, A. (2006). Context changes choices: A prospective study of the effects of hospitalization on life-sustaining treatment preferences. Medical Decision Making, 26, 313-322.
- Ditto, P. H., Pizarro, D. A., Epstein, E. B., Jacobson, J. A., & MacDonald, T. K. (2006). Visceral influences on risk taking behavior. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 19, 99-113.
- Ditto, P.H., & Hawkins, N. A. (2005). Cancer decision making near the end of life. Health Psychology, 24, S63-S70.
- Hawkins, N. A., Ditto, P. H., Danks, J. A., & Smucker, W. D. (2005). Micromanaging death: Process preferences, values, and goals in end-of-life medical decision making. The Gerontologist, 45, 107-117.
- Ditto, P. H., Munro, G. D., Apanovich, A. M., Scepansky, J. A., & Lockhart, L. K. (2003). Spontaneous skepticism: The interplay of motivation and expectation in responses to favorable and unfavorable medical diagnoses. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1120-1132.
- Ditto, P. H., Smucker, W. D., Danks, J. H., Jacobson, J. A., Houts, R. M., Fagerlin, A., Coppola, K. M., & Gready, R. M. (2003). The stability of older adults' preferences for life-sustaining medical treatment. Health Psychology, 22, 605-615.
- Munro, G. D., Ditto, P. H., Lockhart, L. K., Fagerlin, A., Gready, M., & Peterson, E. (2002). Biased assimilation of sociopolitical arguments: Evaluating the 1996 U.S. presidential debate. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 24, 15-26.
- Coppola, K. M., Ditto, P. H., Danks, J. H., & Smucker, W. D. (2001). Accuracy of primary physicians' and hospital-based physicians' predictions of elderly outpatients' treatment preferences with and without advance directives. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 431-440.
- Ditto, P. H., Danks, J. H., Smucker, W. D., Bookwala, J., Coppola, K. M., Dresser, R., Fagerlin, A., Gready, R. M., Houts, R., Lockhart, L. K., & Zyzanski, S. (2001). Advance directives as acts of communication: A randomized controlled trial. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 421-430.
- Fagerlin, A., Ditto, P. H., Danks, J. H., Houts, R., & Smucker. W. D. (2001). Projection in surrogate decisions about life-sustaining medical treatment. Health Psychology, 20, 166-175.
- Smucker, W. D., Houts, R., Danks, J. H., Ditto, P. H., Fagerlin, A., & Coppola, K. M. (2000). Modal preferences predict elderly patients’ life-sustaining treatment choices as well as patients’ chosen surrogates. Medical Decision Making, 20, 271-280.
- Ditto, P. H., Scepansky, J. A., Munro, G. D., Apanovitch, A. M., & Lockhart, L. K. (1998). Motivated sensitivity to preference-inconsistent information. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 53-69.
- Munro, G. D., & Ditto, P. H. (1997). Biased assimilation, attitude polarization, and affect in the processing of stereotype-relevant scientific information. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 636-653.
- Ditto, P. H., & Lopez, D. F. (1992). Motivated skepticism: Use of differential decision criteria for preferred and nonpreferred conclusions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 568-584.
- Ditto, P. H., & Jemmott, J. B. III (1989). From rarity to evaluative extremity: Effects of prevalence information on evaluations of positive and negative characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 16-26.
- Jemmott, J. B. III, Ditto, P. H., & Croyle, R. T. (1986). Judging health status: Effects of perceived prevalence and personal relevance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 899-905.