Below you can find links to my published papers and manuscripts in press or under review.
Ruisch, B. C., & Ferguson, M. J. (invited resubmission). Changes in societal prejudices following the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election cycle. Nature Human Behavior.
Abstract: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election cycle represented a relatively unique event in recent American history, whereby a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, made multiple controversial remarks about minority groups and yet nonetheless gained widespread public support. Trump’s comments constituted a stark departure from the egalitarian norms that have increasingly come to characterize American political discourse. We predicted that these high-profile norm violations have reshaped the personal prejudices and intergroup attitudes of the American people. In 12 studies with a combined sample of over 3 million participants, we tested this prediction, providing one of the largest-scale tests to date of the power of social norms to reshape societal prejudices. We found that explicit racial and religious prejudice has significantly increased among many of Trump’s supporters. Further, we find evidence of an increase in implicit (automatic, uncontrollable) bias among Americans regardless of their support for Donald Trump. These results suggest that Trump’s political rise has substantially reshaped the topography of prejudice in the United States.
Ruisch, B. C., Lewis, Jr. N., A., Ferguson, M. J. (invited resubmission). Is there really a pro-woman bias in academia? A replication and extension of Williams & Ceci (2015). Nature Human Behavior. (original research and registered report proposal)
Abstract: Decades of social scientific research has found that women face discrimination in stereotypically masculine occupations and domains, such as leadership, the workplace, and academia. However, a recent series of large-scale hiring experiments by Williams and Ceci (2015A) challenged this conclusion, finding that not only were women not disadvantaged in academic hiring, they were actually favored at a rate of 2 to 1. These findings raise questions about whether gender bias may have declined – or perhaps even reversed – in the decades that have elapsed since most classic research on gender bias was conducted. In this work, we propose a replication and extension of Williams and Ceci (2015A) to provide additional insight into the questions of whether and when women may be advantaged in academic hiring. In four pilot studies (total N = 2,459), we identify two possible boundary conditions that may limit the generalizability of Williams and Ceci (2015A), suggesting that this pro-woman bias may be limited to 1) exceptionally qualified women and 2) subjective, non-zero-sum outcome measures (e.g., those measuring verbal praise rather than allocations of objective resources like salary and start-up funding). In our registered report proposal, we plan to extend these findings to a sample of tenure-track academics to provide a more ecologically valid test of these questions. In doing so, we aim both to provide a better understanding of this highly influential set of studies, as well as to shed greater light on the current state of gender bias in academia and beyond.
Ruisch, B. C. & Stern, C. (under review). The Confident Conservative: Ideological Differences in Judgment and Decision-Making Confidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
[ Click here for paper ] [OSF link coming soon]
Abstract: Building on research that has shown ideological differences in epistemic needs to avoid ambiguity, we hypothesized that there may be broad and domain-general ideological differences in judgment and decision-making confidence. Across 13 studies (total N = 4,346), we find support for this prediction, finding that political conservatives tend to exhibit greater judgment confidence than do liberals. In Studies 1A-1F, we find that conservatives are more confident in a wide range of basic judgment/decision-making tasks (e.g., numerical estimation, memory recall). In Studies 2A and 2B, we find that the conservatism-confidence link is robust to manipulations of features of the decision task (e.g., manifesting across both easy and hard tasks). In Studies 3A and 3B, we find that this effect manifests not only in subjective feelings of confidence, but also on another conceptually analogous measure of confidence. In Study 4, we find that this effect emerges even when participants are provided with an objective benchmark by which to judge their responses. In Studies 5A and 5B, we examine the mechanism behind this effect. We find that the need for cognitive closure (the psychological motivation to “seize and freeze” on an answer when faced with a decision) explains, in part, the conservatism-confidence relationship. Specifically, when faced with a decision, conservatives tend to make a more rapid and final choice. Liberals, meanwhile, deliberate longer on possible alternative answers, which undercuts their confidence in their own judgments. Results are considered in light of the current “post-truth” U.S. political landscape.
Ruisch, B. C., Anderson, R. A., Inbar, Y., & Pizarro, D. A. (under review). A matter of taste: Gustatory sensitivity shapes political ideology. Psychological Science.
Abstract: Previous research has shown that political attitudes are highly heritable, but the proximal physiological mechanisms that shape ideology remain largely unknown. Based on work suggesting possible ideological differences in genes related to low-level sensory processing, we predicted that taste (i.e., gustatory) sensitivity would be associated with political ideology. In 4 studies (combined N = 1,610) we test this hypothesis and find robust support for this association. In Studies 1-3, we find that sensitivity to the chemicals PROP and PTC – two well established measures of taste sensitivity – are associated with greater political conservatism. In Study 4, we find that fungiform papilla density, a proxy for taste bud density, also predicts greater conservatism, and that this relationship is partially mediated by disgust sensitivity. This work suggests that low-level physiological differences in sensory processing may shape an individual’s political attitudes.
Ruisch, B., Anderson, R., & Pizarro, D. (2018). The challenge of accounting for individual differences in folk-economic beliefs. Brain and Behavioral Sciences.
Abstract: We argue that existing data on folk-economic beliefs (FEBs) present challenges to Boyer & Petersen’s model. Specifically, the widespread individual variation in endorsement of FEBs casts doubt on the claim that humans are evolutionarily predisposed towards particular economic beliefs. Additionally, the authors’ model cannot account for the systematic covariance between certain FEBs, such as those observed in distinct political ideologies.
Ruisch, B., Cone, J., Shen, X., & Ferguson, M. (2018). Dual- and single-process perspectives on the role of threat detection in evaluation. Psychological Inquiry.
Abstract: We outline two broad theoretical issues that are especially relevant for evaluating and interpreting the dual implicit processes model (DIPM). First, we consider the conceptual distinction between threatening and other negative stimuli. We then discuss the extent to which the current evidence supports the conclusion that threatening and nonthreatening stimuli exhibit qualitatively different processing characteristics. We focus particularly on whether it is currently empirically justified to posit the existence of a distinct process responsible for threat detection that is independent of other implicit evaluative processes. Second, we seek to broaden the theoretical “playing field” to consider alternative models that propose the existence of multiple, dissociable implicit processes that may operate in the context of implicit evaluation. We also consider single-process models that propose that the dissociations between implicit and explicit evaluation are not explained by a distinction in underlying mental representation, process, or structure. Finally, we examine whether single-process models may be able to successfully account for the apparent privileged processing of threat in implicit evaluation, and what these models might suggest about how threat processing may operate, if not via a distinct threat detection process or system.
Rosenzweig, C, Ruisch, B., & Stern, C. (2018). Accumulative fusion and the issue of age: Reconciling the model with the data. Brain and Behavioral Sciences.
Abstract: We discuss a disconnect between the predictions of Whitehouse’s model regarding the accumulative nature of fusion and real-world data regarding the age at which people generally engage in self-sacrifice. We argue that incorporating the link between age and identity development into Whitehouse’s theoretical framework is central to understanding when and why people engage in self-sacrifice on behalf of the group.
Hennes, E. P., Ruisch, B. C., Feygina, I., Monteiro, C.A., & Jost, J. T. (2016). Motivated Recall in the Service of the Economic System: The Case of Anthropogenic Climate Change Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 145(6), 755.
Abstract: The contemporary political landscape is characterized by numerous divisive issues. Unlike many other issues, however, much of the disagreement about climate change centers not on how best to take action to address the problem, but on whether the problem exists at all. Psychological studies indicate that, to the extent that sustainability initiatives are seen as threatening to the socioeconomic system, individuals may downplay environmental problems in order to defend and protect the status quo. In the current research, participants were presented with scientific information about climate change and later asked to recall details of what they had learned. Individuals who were experimentally induced (Study 1) or dispositionally inclined (Studies 2 and 3) to justify the economic system misremembered the evidence to be less serious, and this was associated with increased skepticism. However, when high system justifiers were led to believe that the economy was in a recovery, they recalled climate change information to be more serious than did those assigned to a control condition. When low system justifiers were led to believe that the economy was in recession, they recalled the information to be less serious (Study 3). These findings suggest that because system justification can impact information processing, simply providing the public with scientific evidence may be insufficient to inspire action to mitigate climate change. However, linking environmental information to statements about the strength of the economic system may satiate system justification needs and break the psychological link between proenvironmental initiatives and economic risk.