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Pete Ditto

Professor of Psychological Science

I am interested in “hot cognition” — the interface between passion and reason. My research examines the role of motivation, emotion and intuition in social, political, moral, medical, and legal judgment. Most generally, I have sought to explain the phenomenon of “motivated reasoning” — how the desire to reach a particular conclusion biases the processing of information related to that conclusion. My early work examined the role such biases play in responses to threatening medical information (e.g., denial). More recently, my work has focused on motivated moral reasoning, particularly how people selectively recruit general principles and factual beliefs to support desired moral conclusions. Another key focus of my current research is partisan political bias. This work examines the multiple ways that political ideology biases our political judgments and behavior. Finally, I am interested in a variety of psychological issues involved in end-of-life medical decision making.