“I can negate everything of that part of me that lives on vague nostalgias, except this desire for unity, this longing to solve, this need for clarity and cohesion.” – Albert Camus, from The Myth of Sisyphus
In this sentence, Camus captures both my motivation to do scientific research, and the psychological questions that interest me – I am a psychologist who is driven to make sense of how people make sense of the world. This general fascination has manifested itself in two main lines of research, one focusing on the belief systems that people use to organize the world, and the other focusing on how people come to understand the feelings and thoughts of others. At times, these interests have led me to use well-established self-report measures of people’s conscious thoughts or feelings, and at other times it has led me to turn to neural or psychophysiological measures that can tap into people’s rapid, and largely uncontrollable reactions. Similarly, there have been instances when questions have called for a focus on the power of the situation, and other instances when they’ve called for a focus on the things that make people unique.