Selected Publications

Firearms are one of the central flashpoints in American life, and yet the motivations underlying their ownership have been generally understudied by psychologists. In this paper, I review work from across the social sciences to model the psychological utility that people get from gun ownership. I propose the Coping Model of Protective Gun Ownership, arguing that those who own their weapon for protection are using their gun symbolically as an aid to manage psychological threats - to their safety, control, and sense of belongingness - that come from their belief that the world is a dangerous place and that society will not keep them safe. I discuss the ramifications of this coping strategy and present a research agenda for exploring this framework.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2019

Which is more enjoyable: trying to think enjoyable thoughts or doing everyday solitary activities? Wilson et al (2014) found that American participants much preferred solitary everyday activities, such as reading or watching TV, to thinking for pleasure. To see whether this preference generalized outside of the United States, we replicated the study with 2,557 participants from 12 sites in 11 countries. The results were consistent in every country: Participants randomly assigned to do something reported significantly greater enjoyment than did participants randomly assigned to think for pleasure. Although we found systematic differences by country in how much participants enjoyed thinking for pleasure, these differences were fully accounted for by country-level variation in 5 individual differences, 4 of which were positively correlated with thinking for pleasure (need for cognition, openness to experience, meditation experience, and initial positive affect) and 1 of which was negatively correlated (reported phone usage).
JPSP, 2018

Recent Publications

. Protective gun ownership as a coping mechanism. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2019.


. The psychologically rich life questionnaire. Journal of Research in Personality, 2019.

Preprint Article

. The mind is its own place: The difficulties and benefits of thinking for pleasure. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 2019.

Preprint Dataset Article

. The socio-ecological psychology of upward social mobility. American Psychologist, 2018.

Preprint Article

. Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. Nature Human Behavior, 2018.

Project Article

. Cross-cultural consistency and relativity in the enjoyment of thinking versus doing. JPSP, 2018.

Preprint Dataset Article

. Income inequality and well-being. Current Opinion in Psychology, 2017.

Preprint Article

. You can do it if you really try: The effects of motivation on thinking for pleasure. Motivation and Emotion, 2017.

Preprint Article

. The psychological consequences of income inequality. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2017.

Preprint Article

. New directions in social psychological interventions to improve academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2016.

Preprint Article


Guns as a Coping Mechanism
Feb 9, 2019 9:30 AM
Higher Population Density and Lower Meaning in Life
May 27, 2018 10:30 AM


Here are my conference posters, in case you’d like to take a look: