My research explores cognitive tendencies that prevent people from making sensible choices, in two domains:
The tendency to jump to "That's not fair!" conclusions leads one to see fellow citizens as competitors, even though it is often in one's best interest to see them instead as potential cooperative partners.
Put another way, people presume a zero-sum world in which the gains of one mean losses for another. This prevents them from taking advantage of win-win opportunities.
This tendency leads people to support the "wrong" economic policies and political ideologies (i.e., those that are not in their best interest).
A recognition of this tendency is the key to making the "right" policies and ideologies more appealing to citizens.
Most people have a larger than necessary ecological footprint, and are aware (to some degree) that this is true.
The resulting cognitive dissonance should inspire pro-environmental behaviour, but it doesn't.
Our research explores the unconscious mental tricks we play in order to keep this dissonnace at bay.
Ph.D. in Psychology from McMaster University
B.A. in Psychology from the University at Albany
Burleigh, T.J., & Meegan, D.V. (2018). Risky prospects and risk aversion tendencies: Does competition in the classroom depend on grading practices and knowledge of peer-status? Social Psychology of Education, 21, 323-335. (doi.org/10.1007/s11218-017-9414-x)
Burleigh, T.J., Rubel, A.N., & Meegan, D.V. (2017). Wanting ‘the whole loaf’: Zero-sum thinking about love is associated with prejudice against consensual non-monogamists. Psychology & Sexuality, 8, 24-40. (doi=10.1080/19419899.2016.1269020)
Burleigh, T.J., & Meegan, D.V. (2013). Keeping up with the Joneses affects perceptions of distributive justice. Social Justice Research, 26, 120-131. (doi: 10.1007/s11211-013-0181-3)