PHD, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
Social and Personality Psychology; Quantitative Methods
2008 - 2014
BA, OHIO UNIVERSITY
Social Cognition, Politics, Morality, Bias, Metascience
I am a moral and political psychologist interested in how intuitive desires shape moral judgments and empirical beliefs. As social animals who benefit from group belonging and status attainment, humans likely evolved to reason in ways that enable them to persuade others of their moral righteousness and their value and commitment to their social groups. Although humans are rational in many ways, human cognition is likely also biased toward achieving these ends. And people likely interact with new information in ways that allow them to maintain and justify their preferred beliefs and worldviews.
In the moral domain, my research has found that desires to blame and punish others underlie belief in human free will. Augmenting this belief and attributing free will to harm doers serves as a justification that enables people to bring punitive harm upon their fellow human beings with minimal psychological distress.
In the political domain, I have argued that in-group biases likely evolved as a natural feature of human psychology and that all human social groups are susceptible to bias. My work has found that both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. are prone to political bias and to virtually identical degrees.
Lately, I am interested in motivated cognition in evaluations of science and among scientists. I strongly suspect scientists are but mere mortals and consequently are vulnerable to similar biases, errors, motivations, and psychological needs as other people. If this is correct, their own evaluations of science might be biased in predictable ways.
If you are interested in working together (or simply chatting), email me at
Clark, C. J., Winegard, B. M., & Shariff, A. F. (in press). Motivated free will belief: The theory, new (preregistered) studies, and three meta-analyses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.
Everett, J. A. C., Clark, C. J., Earp, B. D., Luguri, J. B., Meindl, P., Graham, J., Ditto, P. H., & Shariff, A. F. (in press). Political differences in free will belief are driven by differences in moralization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Clark, C. J. & Winegard, B. M. (2020). Tribalism in war and peace: The nature and evolution of ideological epistemology and its significance for modern social science. Psychological Inquiry, 31, 1-22.
Clark, C. J., Liu, B. S., Winegard, B. M., & Ditto, P. H. (2019). Tribalism is Human Nature. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 28, 587-592.
Ditto, P. H., Liu, B., Clark, C. J., Wojcik, S., Chen, E., Grady, R., Celniker, J., & Zinger, J. (2019). At least bias is bipartisan: A meta-analytic comparison of selective interpretation bias in Liberals and Conservatives. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Clark, C. J., Luguri, J. B., Ditto, P. H., Knobe, J., Shariff, A., & Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Free to punish: A motivated account of free will belief. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16, 501-513.
ABOUT CORY J CLARK
I grew up in Bath, Ohio, birthplace of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and sometimes home of LeBron James.
A contrarian and skeptic since childhood, at age 7, I disproved the existence of Santa Claus. Peering out my window late one Christmas Eve, I noticed my Aunt and Uncle (and also neighbors) rolling a mini trampoline down their stairs to their Christmas Tree. I realized I could seize this opportunity for discovery. The next day, I asked my cousin whether Santa or her parents gave her the trampoline. She said Santa. Case closed. Only months later I inquired of my Monday night religion teacher, "If there were only two ants on Noah's Arc, what did the anteaters eat?" She provided no satisfactory answer.
Up until college, my long-term plan was to be a backup dancer for Snoop Dogg. Snoop Dogg had to cancel his concert due to bad weather (typical Ohio hazard), and so I was forced to make other plans.
Once in college, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to be an astronaut (physics major), Bertrand Russell (philosophy major), or a person who runs experiments on humans (psychology major). After I calculated my slim odds of being the first person to discover extraterrestrial life and my mom vetoed philosophy, I landed on psychology.
Since then, I received my PhD from University of California, Irvine, and worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar at University at Buffalo and Florida State University, an Assistant Professor at Durham University in the United Kingdom, and the Director of Academic Engagement for Heterodox Academy, and now, I am a Visiting Scholar at University of Pennsylvania.
My hobbies include phojography (taking pictures while jogging), phodography (taking pictures of my dog), exploring new cities by myself, and planning for my future goat farm.