The Situationist

New Situationists

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 25, 2008

We are delighted to introduce a new Situationist Contributor and Situationist Fellow.

Our newest contributor, Peter Ditto, is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California-Irvine. His research interests include “hot cognition” — the interface between passion and reason. His research examines the role of motivation and emotion in social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgment. Most generally, his work has sought to explain the phenomenon of “motivated reasoning,” or how the desire to reach a particular conclusion biases the processing of information related to that conclusion. Ditto’s early work in this area examined the role such biases play in how people respond to threatening medical information (e.g., denial).

More recently, Ditto’s work has been focused on motivated moral reasoning, particularly how people selectively recruit general moral principles to support desired moral conclusions. Another key focus of his current research is on partisan political bias. This work examines the multiple ways that political ideology biases our political judgments and behavior. Finally, he is interested in a variety of psychological issues involved in end-of-life medical decision making. This work amounts to a psychological critique of policy encouraging the use of “living wills” in end-of-life medical decision making.

Ditto will publish his first post, “A Convenient Fiction,” on Monday.

* * *

Our most recent Situationist Fellow is Elizabeth Johnston. Elizabeth Johnston graduated cum laude from Middlebury College in 2006 with a BA in Psychology. She also minored in U.S. History and Spanish. While in college, Elizabeth interned at a law firm, at two legal service centers, and for a Federal Judge. Additionally, she volunteered for, among others, the Hurricane Relief Committee, WomenSafe, Relay for Life, various local schools, and represented her class in Student Government. In 2005, she was selected as the recipient for the Baldwin Prize, which is “Awarded to a woman in the junior class who best exemplifies the ideal type of Middlebury College student based on character, scholarship, and personality.” Since graduating, Elizabeth has worked at a law firm, been a teaching fellow at Harvard for an undergraduate psychology class, and is now in the process of finishing her Master’s in Applied Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she currently has GPA of 4.0. Elizabeth plans to attend law school in the fall. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys playing sports, traveling, and cooking.

Elizabeth has already put together two terrific staff posts for blog: “Jonathan Haidt on the Situation of Moral Reasoning” and “The Situation of Lawyers and Practicing Law.” You can look forward to more.

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