Lawrence Walker

Prospective Graduate Students / Postdocs

This faculty member is currently not looking for graduate students or Postdoctoral Fellows. Please do not contact the faculty member with any such requests.


Research Classification

Identity Building

Research Interests

Moral Exemplarity
Moral Identity
Moral Psychology

Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
The bright and dark sides of personality, job performance, and imbalanced leadership in managers (2018)

There is considerable interest in finding ways to screen for dark personality traits (maladaptive interpersonal and personality tendencies) in personnel selection assessments given their pernicious effects on job performance and leadership behavior. This has proved challenging because of socially desirable response biases and ethical restrictions regulating the use of psychiatric measures. Recent advances in the understanding of the dimensional nature of personality suggest that measures of bright personality can be used to predict dark personality traits. The current research extends this research to the California Psychological Inventory (CPI) and employs multiple regression analyses to examine the bright–dark trait relationships in two samples of managers who underwent employment testing. Study 1 found that CPI scales significantly predicted each of the self-reported Hogan Development Survey (HDS) dark traits. Study 2 extended this research to supervisor ratings and found that CPI scales significantly predicted 6 out of 11 dark traits as rated by supervisors. Supervisor-rated dark traits were also negatively related to supervisor ratings of task performance and contextual performance, as well as positively related to counterproductive workplace behavior and job stress. Evidence also suggested that job stress and self-awareness may moderate the relationship between dark traits and counterproductive workplace behavior. Most of the dark traits were characterized by leadership behavior imbalances related to overdoing and/or underdoing forceful, enabling, or strategic behaviors. Conceptually, this study furthers our understanding of the relationship between dark personality traits and bright personality traits as measured by the CPI. Practically, it provides support for another method to screen for dark personality traits in workplace contexts. It also addresses the lack of observer assessments of dark personality in workplace contexts as well as the lack of research on counterproductive workplace behavior.

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Personality traits, motivation, and the making of modern identity (2013)

What is the nature of personhood? How is identity best understood? In this dissertation, these questions are explored. Drawing upon a conception of personality in which behavioral traits, goal motivation, and identities are recognized as equal and complementary partners, two proposals are considered. First, it is argued that insights into many psychological phenomena can be enhanced through tandem consideration of the aforementioned personological elements. Second, it is argued that personal identity is manifest within both narrative and non-narrative (i.e., paradigmatic) forms. Support for the first proposal is garnered over the course of three empirical studies. In each of these studies—which consider context variability in the manifestation of personality attributes (i.e., self-concept differentiation), the interplay between the meta-concepts of agency and communion in moral motivation, and the relation between personality and culture, respectively—the predictive ability of traits, goals, and identities is examined. Considerable gains in predictive power are made through consideration of these elements of personality. Support for the second proposal is garnered through the undertaking of the third study, wherein a method for assessing personal identity in its narrative and paradigmatic forms is adopted and applied to a cross-cultural examination of personality. The current endeavor thus aims to apply a necessary corrective to the field of personality psychology (wherein personality and personality traits are often equated) and developmental psychology (wherein identity has increasingly come to be construed solely in narrative terms).

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Why be good? the development of enlightened self-interest in moral personality (2011)

What motivates people to devote their lives to promoting the greater good? This dissertation advances the reconciliation model, which explains moral motivation within a developmental framework by positing that, for the mature, the relationship between self-promoting (agentic) and other-promoting (communal) motives transforms from one of mutual competition to one of synergy. That is, the model proposes that moral exemplars, in particular, integrate agency and communion in their psychological functioning. Most people, on the other hand, do not become highly virtuous partly because they developmentally stagnate, failing to integrate these motives. The majority of leaders and other successful people also fail to integrate the two, and instead continue to develop agentic motives while attenuating communal motives, resulting in unmitigated agency. Three studies test claims concerning the endpoints of development. Relying on a young-adult sample of student club leaders, Study 1 pinpoints the specific values that usually compete within the moral domain. Study 2 finds evidence of integrated agency and communion in the personalities of recipients of a national award for decades of contribution to the greater good (in contrast to a demographically matched comparison group). Study 3 explores the motives of a “moral dream team” compared to those of a similarly influential set of heroes, icons, leaders, and revolutionaries. The findings are that exemplars treat agency as a means to an end of communion while, for most influential people, agency merely begets more agency. Agency, communion, and the relationship between them hold considerable promise in explaining moral motivation, its development, and the processes that support lives of extraordinary moral commitment.

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An intuitive turn : understanding the roles of rational and intuitive processes in moral decision-making (2009)

The relative contribution of reason and intuition to everyday moral decision-making is an issue that predates psychology as a distinct academic discipline. In the past several years this debate has become one of the most contentious issues in the social sciences. Although most researchers now accept that intuition plays some role in everyday moral decision-making, there is little conceptual agreement on what processes shape moral intuition. To date there have been no attempts to demonstrate convergent validity between competing measures of moral intuition. The goals of this project are to examine the convergent validity demonstrated by measures of moral intuition and to examine whether the concept of moral autonomy is a useful framework for understanding individual differences in the propensity to rely on intuition or reason when making moral decisions. This project comprises a series of three studies. Study 1 examines the relation between moral autonomy, general cognitive styles, and performance on a causal deviance task which taps intuitive judgments. Study 2represents the first step in the search for convergent validity among measures of moralintuition; responses from the causal deviance task and the moral dumbfounding task are compared. In Study 3, two new measures of moral intuition are introduced and compared with existing measures. The results of this project suggest that the conceptualization of moral intuition differs significantly across theoretical perspectives and, as such, there is littleconvergent validity between measures derived from the heuristics-and-biases tradition andthose from the sentimentalist tradition. A richer conception of intuition, one that captures the distinction between affective appraisals and decisions arrived at without conscious deliberation, offers the potential to bridge theoretical differences. This project represents the first attempt to demonstrate convergent validity between opposing theoretical conceptualizations of moral intuition. The lack of agreement between these theoretical approaches highlights the need to take a more conceptually rich view of intuition. Intuition is not simply an error, as suggested by the heuristics-and-biases approach, nor is it simply an affective response, as suggested by sentimentalists; rather, intuition is a concept characterized by non-inferential, non-deliberative understanding.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
The Chronic Disease Conception of Addiction: Helpful or Harmful? (2014)

No abstract available.


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