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Faculty, Social


Dr. Paul Conway

University of Western Ontario, 2013

Assistant Professor

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Research Interests

I study the psychology of morality and justice: How people think about good and bad, right and wrong, and whether to help or harm others. Some of my work examines the surprisingly complex ways that moral self-perceptions influence prosocial behavior. Doing so not only advances theory, but also suggests simple techniques for encouraging prosociality--for example, try reminding a friend of something good they did over a year ago and they will be more likely to help you today. For my dissertation, I applied a technique called process dissociation to moral dilemma decisions where causing harm maximizes outcomes. This procedure independently estimates the roles of affective reactions to harm versus cognitive evaluations of outcomes in moral decision-making, thereby clarifying several conundrums in the field. Currently, I'm developing a model of individual differences in moral judgment, and examining how morality impacts person perception. I won the 2014 Dissertation Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, the 2014 Governor General's Academic Gold Medal, and the 2013 Student Publication Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. I have taught Moral Psychology, Social Psychology, Child Development, and Persuasion, and served as President of the SPSP Graduate Student Committee.

Current Research

My work primarily focuses on two streams. First, I aim to clarify conceptual confusion regarding the processes underlying moral dilemma judgments where causing harm maximizes outcomes. This work involves techniques such as process dissociation, as well as a new model of individual differences in moral thinking styles. Second, I am increasingly interested in social perceptions of moral judgments—how and why people react to others' moral judgments, and how people adjust moral judgments to present themselves in socially optimal ways. Beyond that, my interests are wide-ranging, including work on prosocial behavior, self-sacrifice, religiosity, cultural differences, social rejection, self-control, regret, and political decision-making.

Selected Publications

Rom, S., & Conway, P. (in press). The strategic moral self: Self-presentation shapes moral dilemma judgments. Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Bialek, M., Conway, P., Muda, R., & Niszczota, P. (in press). Reading dilemmas in a foreign language reduces both deontological and utilitarian response tendencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition

Gawronski, B., Armstrong, J., Conway, P., Friesdorf, R., & Hütter, M. (2017). Consequences, norms, and generalized inaction in moral dilemmas: The CNI model of moral decision-making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Rom, S., Weiss, A., & Conway, P. (2016). Judging those who judge: perceivers infer the roles of affect and cognition underpinning others’ moral dilemma responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 44-58.

Conway, P. (2016). The core of morality is the moral self. In Kurt Gray & Jesse Graham (Eds.), The Atlas of Moral Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.

Effron, D. A., & Conway, P. (2016). When virtue leads to villainy: Advances in research on moral self-licensing. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6,32-35. doi:10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.017

Friesdorf, R., Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2015). Gender differences in responses to moral dilemmas: A process dissociation analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 696-713. doi:10.1177/0146167215575731

Gawronski, B., Conway, P., Armstrong, J., Friesdorf, R., & Hütter, M. (2015). Moral dilemma judgments: Disentangling deontological inclinations, utilitarian inclinations, and general action tendencies. In J. P. Forgas, P. A. M. Van Lange, & L. Jussim (Eds.), Social psychology of morality. New York: Psychology Press.

Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and utilitarian inclinations in moral decision-making: A process dissociation approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 216-235. doi:10.1037/a0031021

Conway, P., & Peetz, J. (2012). When does feeling moral actually make you a better person? Conceptual abstraction moderates whether past moral deeds motivate consistency or compensatory behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 907-919. doi:10.1177/0146167212442394


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