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Social, Faculty

Dr. Paul Conway

University of Western Ontario, 2013

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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

Some research entails using advanced techniques such as process dissociation and MLM to refine understanding of the processes underlying moral dilemma judgments where causing harm maximizes outcomes. Some related work examines individual differences in moral thinking styles not only to refine theory, but also refine measures for predicting who will behave ethically. Other research examines the surprisingly complex ways that moral self-perceptions influence prosocial behavior.

Selected Publications


Effron, D. A., & Conway, P. (2015). When virtue leads to villainy: Advances in research on moral self-licensing. Current Opinion in Social 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., & Huetter, 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.

Maxwell-Smith, M. A., Seligman, C., Conway, P., & Cheung, I. (2015). Individual differences in commitment to value-based beliefs and the amplification of perceived belief dissimilarity effects. Journal of Personality, 2, 127-141. doi:10.1111/jopy.12089

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

Hafer, C. L., Conway, P., Cheung, I., Malyk, D., & Olson, J. M. (2012). The relation between identification with a target and the perceived importance of justice. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 34, 395-409. doi:10.1080/01973533.2012.711693

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

Olson, J. M., Cheung, I., Conway, P., Hutchison, J., & Hafer, C. L. (2011). Distinguishing two meanings of moral exclusion: Irrelevance of fairness vs. rationalized harm-doing. Social Justice Research, 24, 1-26. doi:10.1007/s11211-011-0141-8

Olson, J. M., Hafer, C. L., Cheung, I., & Conway, P. (2009). Deservingness, the scope of justice, and actions toward others. In A. C. Kay, D. R. Bobocel, M. P. Zanna, & J. M. Olson (Eds.), The psychology of justice and legitimacy: The Ontario symposium (Vol. 11, pp. 125-149). New York: Psychology Press.


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