Kristin Laurin

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Psychology of social class
Political psychology
Rationalization and system justification

Relevant Degree Programs

Research Options

I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.


Master's students
Doctoral students
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am interested in supervising students to conduct interdisciplinary research.

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Democracy's (occasional) supporters (2022)

Worldwide, support for democracy’s principles has risen in the past half century. Yet democratic citizens do little to reverse global democratic backslides, even cheering on populist leaders who threaten institutions in place to protect them. I ask for whom democracy is a priority; who is disturbed by democratic backslides, and in any what contexts might they actually approve of this troubling trend? Chapters 2 and 3 uncover ideologically-linked dispositions and contexts explaining people’s reactions to democracy’s decline. Pre-registered laboratory experiments combined with analyses of World Values Survey data indicate that overall, liberals are more distressed than conservatives by low democracy. At the same time, the political context matters: This pattern emerges most strongly when the ruling party is conservative and disappears (though it does not flip into its mirror image) when the ruling party is liberal. The results from these chapters contribute to ongoing debates over ideological symmetry and asymmetry. Going beyond ideology, Chapter 4 identifies a broader set of stable dispositions associated with support for democracy. Moreover, similar to Chapter 3, it finds contexts where those associations weaken or disappear. Three pre-registered experiments reveal that those valuing equality are more supportive of democracy’s principles, and authoritarians and elitists are less supportive. At the same time, when it comes to supporting democracy in practice at the expense of other valued goals, these dispositions show only weak associations. Together, these findings suggest possible discrepancies between self-proclaimed values and actual behavior. Chapter 4 also explores potential differences in people’s feelings towards democracy’s multiple facets; civil liberties, the rule of law, and formal democratic procedures. My results contribute to ongoing research of support for democracy during its period of decline, suggesting that, if democracy is worth protecting, not everyone, in all contexts, will feel the urgency.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Why do people choose their beliefs? A New Pluralist Perspective on belief regulation (2020)

Why do people choose their beliefs? Research on this question has been dominated by a Traditional Monist Perspective, assuming that people think reasoning must always be in service of producing unbiased, evidence-based beliefs, embodying Epistemic Value. But recent research hints at the possibility that this may be an unwarranted assumption. People knowingly hold incorrect beliefs (Walco & Risen, 2017), prescribe morally motivated reasoning to others (Cusimano & Lombrozo, 2020), and report not caring that much about Epistemic Value when directly asked (Ståhl, Zaal, & Skitka, 2016; Pennycook, Cheyne, Koehler, & Fugelsang, 2019). Extending this work, I propose a New Pluralist Perspective, arguing that people find it worthwhile to believe in service of non-epistemic goals, embodying other values. Based on a review of the motivated reasoning literature, I propose a non-exhaustive list of three non-epistemic values about believing that people could explicitly endorse: (1) Emotional Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting positive emotions), (2) Moral Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting a moral agenda), and (3) Affiliative Value (that beliefs can be valuable by supporting meaningful affiliations). In Study 1 (n=456), I develop a self-report scale, the Values about Belief Scale (VBS), to measure endorsement of these values. In Study 2 (n=207), I assess the convergent validity of the Emotional Value subscale, and its relationship with emotionally motivated beliefs. In Study 3 (n=449), I explore how Emotional Value predicts palliative beliefs about the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in Study 4 (n=200) I explore how the non-epistemic values predict a classic case of motivate reasoning in action: system justification. Results generally support the New Pluralist Perspective over the Traditional Monist Perspective. I discuss the implications of the New Pluralist Perspective for the study of belief regulation.

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Seek and ye shall be fine: attitudes towards political perspective-seekers (2019)

Over the past two decades, growing political polarization has led to increasing calls for people to seek out and try to understand opposing political views. Although seeking out opposing views is objectively desirable behavior, do we find it socially desirable when people who agree with us nonetheless seek out views that we oppose? We find that observers strongly prefer individuals who seek out, rather than avoid, political views that the observer opposes. Across nine online studies we find a large preference for these political perspective-seekers, and in a lab study, 73% of participants chose to interact with a perspective-seeking confederate. This preference is weakly moderated by the direction of participants’ ideology and the strength of their beliefs. Moreover, it is robust regardless of why the individual seeks or avoids opposing views, and emerges even when the perspective-seeker is undecided and not already committed to participants’ own views. However, the preference disappears when a perspective-seeker attends only to the perspective that observers disagree with, disregarding the observer’s side. These findings suggest that, despite growing polarization, people still think it is important to understand and tolerate political opponents. This work also informs future interventions, which could leverage social pressures to promote political perspective-seeking and combat selective-exposure, thus improving political relations.

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Socioeconomic status predicts meta-perceptions: how, why, and so what? (2019)

How might a person’s socioeconomic status (SES) affect how she thinks others see her (her meta-perceptions)? One possibility is that people derive their meta-perceptions from cultural stereotypes: That is, low SES people may expect others to see them as warmer, but less competent, than those with high SES. However, low SES people tend to see themselves more negatively and have more negative expectations for how they will present themselves than those with high SES. Thus, another possibility is that low SES people expect others to see them as both colder and less competent than those with high SES. Seven studies, three of them pre-registered, supported the latter possibility: Low SES people thought they would be seen more negatively in terms of both warmth and competence, compared to those with high SES. This occurred in hypothetical interactions (Study 1A-1B), live in-lab interactions (Study 2), and online chat conversations (Study 3A-4B), and was mediated by lower-SES people’s more negative self-views and expectations for self-presentation (Study 1B). However, these expectations were not accurate: Low SES people were not seen differently by others, and if anything were worse at guessing how others saw them (Study 2 but not Study 4A-4B). Moreover, low SES people were more likely than high SES people to believe that negative feedback they received in both warmth (Study 3A-3B) and competence (Study 4A-4B) domains was their own fault; this was related to their more negative meta-perceptions. This thesis uncovers a novel way in which SES affects how people think about interpersonal interactions, and highlights the consequences for attributions for negative feedback and potentially, inequality.

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