Speaker: Kenneth DeMarree
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo
People’s thoughts and feelings often predict their subsequent judgments and behavior, but not always. For example, there is variability in the extent to which a person’s opinions (attitudes) predict relevant behaviors or the extent to which a person’s affective state predicts experiences of distress (e.g., dysphoria, panic). I will present aspects of several lines of research that offer metacognitive answers to questions surrounding when or for whom do people’s mental contents guide relevant responses. This work finds that people’s metacognitive appraisals of specific mental contents (e.g., certainty or liking of individual mental contents) and individual differences in people’s metacognitions (e.g., propensities to hold attitudes with certainty or to view one’s mental activity with psychological distance) predict the extent to which relevant mental contents guide corresponding responses across a wide range of domains.
Speaker: Stephanie Poindexter
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo
As anthropologists look to our primate cousins to understand our evolution, we often emphasize the distance between basal primates (like the slow loris) and apes such as ourselves. Expanding data collection efforts and attention have shown us that we may be more similar than we once thought. Here I will discuss primate evolution and how what we think we know about slow loris sociality and cognitive capacity needs another look.
Speaker: Lindsay Hahn
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University at Buffalo
The messages we encounter in media can motivate our behaviors. But what leads some messages to fall short in this regard, while others provoke attitudes and actions that contribute to society's collective benefit or detriment? In this talk, I present evidence suggesting that the extent to which messages can activate audiences’ instinctive moral values may underlie their ability to evoke both altruism and atrocity. In one context, I discuss the development of two instruments designed to measure 10-12-year-olds’ sensitivities to instinctive moral values. Although extant research suggests that children have difficulty recognizing and recalling explicit moral lessons from narratives, my work demonstrates that exposure to representations of specific moral values can increase children’s sensitivity to those values, which in turn leads to predictable patterns in their behavior. That is, by accounting for instinctive moral values, we can minimize the noise and maximize the signal in audiences’ broad responses to media. In a separate context, I report initial findings demonstrating that terrorists attempt to increase the moral “signal to noise” ratio for rallying insiders and radicalizing outsiders to commit violence. Taken together, I discuss how focusing on more basal, instinctive moral values provides promise for researchers who are looking to better predict a breadth of outcomes evoked by media, as well as concerned publics wishing to embolden outcomes they consider socially beneficial and combat those they consider detrimental.