Sean P. Wojcik




Degree Program: 

Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior




Peter Ditto

Other information: 


I am primarily interested in studying overconfidence -- and how our most firmly held beliefs (about politics, morality, our health, religion, science, and reasoning itself) can be flawed, biased, and distorted without our awareness.  To date, my research spans three major areas:


Political ideology and morality:

  • Mirror-image political stereotyping: My master's thesis identified the affective processes that lead to mirror-image political stereotyping (the tendency for liberals and conservatives to endorse identical political stereotypes about each other).
  • Support for the Tea Party movement: Other ongoing research investigates the moral and psychological underpinnings of support for the Tea Party movement.
  • YourMorals.Org: I am fortunate to be a part of an ongoing collaboration with Jonathan Haidt, Pete Ditto, Jesse Graham, Ravi Iyer, Sena Koleva, and Matt Motyl in the development of YourMorals.Org, a research platform that allows users to build their own psychological and moral profiles by participating in online studies, while providing personalized feedback and up-to-date scientific information about political and moral psychology.  

Self-enhancement bias:

  • Componential approach: I've co-authored a review article on the componential approach to understanding self-enhancement bias.
  • Happiness: A current project investigates the relationship between self-enhancement bias, political ideology, and subjective well-being (paper in preparation).
  • Overconfidence and compromise: I've written about the relationship between political ideology and self-enhancement bias, and how this relates to the lack of compromise and bipartisanship in Washington.

Heuristic vs. systematic processing styles:

  • "Truthiness": Some of my ongoing research investigates whether liberals and conservatives are differentially susceptible to belief bias.  Early results suggest that these groups have similar levels of abstract logical reasoning ability, but that conservatives are more susceptible to belief bias (the tendency to erroneously judge logical arguments by the believability of their conclusions, rather than by the logical coherence of the entire arguments).  I am also investigating this phenomenon within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Health Risk Perceptions: Along with Virginia Kwan and other colleagues, I've also recently published work on how heuristic judgments distort health risk perceptions.  We've found that certain presentation formats of health information induce heuristic styles of judgment, leading to predictably distorted health risk perceptions.  This research has recently received a lot of media attention, including being featured on Fox News, the Huffington Post, and in Newsweek.