Tullett Lab

- From Left to Right: Alex McDiarmid, Zach Mensch, Alexa Tullett, Callie Gibson, Brett Grant.
- Missing: Cassie Whitt

Research Interests

Collectively, social psychology has played a major role in documenting impediments to objectivity; meanwhile those impediments present a continual challenge to empirical researchers. This raises a question that is both an interesting intellectual puzzle and also a problem of practical significance: How can we use social psychology to understand how to be better scientific thinkers? In general, my research tackles this problem from two different angles, one basic and one applied. For the former, I focus on the fundamental psychological processes that prevent us from being open-minded, agnostic consumers of information. For the latter, I apply this understanding in examining the ways in which social psychological research is conducted and understood.

Belief Systems and Motivated Cognition
One of the biggest obstacles to objectivity is also one of the human mind’s greatest strengths; new information is not processed in a vacuum, but is instead colored by our experiences, expectations, and desires. This is the source of our impressive ability to draw meaning out of vast amounts of information. At the same time, it is also the reason that even our best efforts fail to make us truly impartial about those observations. In this line of work I examine how belief systems and psychological processes can influence agnostic consideration of alternative views.

Research Practices and Meta-Science
Although psychologists have been leaders in documenting the challenges of being objective, we are not immune to those challenges in our own scientific research. Scientific theories are one form of belief system, and thus introduce their own filters and blind spots that can make them resistant to change. This kind of theoretical inertia can be at odds with the philosophical ideal of scientific self-correction. In this line of work I examine how psychological and institutional factors can influence scientific progress.

Quick Info

How to contact

Tel: 205.348.0607
Email: atullett@ua.edu
Where to Find

The University of Alabama
410 Gordon Palmer
Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
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