Sean Michael Laurent

Assistant Professor

Biography

Sean Laurent received his B.A. (Psychology and Commonwealth College) in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts, and received his Ph.D. (Social Psychology) in 2010 from the University of Oregon.

Research Interests

What makes some people better (or worse) than others at decoding others' thoughts and emotions? How do people attempt to understand others' minds, and how does trying to get inside another person's head affect feelings about that person and the self? How do intuitions or knowledge about others' mental states affect judgments of them and their actions, such as a sense of them as "good" or "bad" or a desire to see them blamed or praised, punished or rewarded?

These are the types of questions that motivate my work, organized around the central theme of "how people think about, feel about, and form judgments of others' minds and actions."

Much of my recent research has focused on the cognitive and affective mechanisms that underlie judgments of blame and desire to punish. Because judgments about harm, responsibility, and blameworthiness are central to many types of legal judgments, this research has also sparked an interest in how folk psychology underlies legal decision-making. However, I am also interested in the other side of this question:how people reason about praise, and the differences in reasoning processes that underlie why people appear quite willing to blame others for causing harm, but are hesitant to give praise for causing benefit.

My work primarily focuses on the following topics: 

  • How people decide whether other people and their behaviors are “good” or “bad”
  • How people think and feel about other people’s mental states (e.g., desires, intentions, foreknowledge) and how this influences and informs evaluations of their character, their behavior, and the outcomes that result from their behavior
  • How people's behavior and the outcomes that result from it influence evaluations and judgments of their mental states, behavior, and character
  • How people decide whether others deserve blame or praise for their behaviors, and how these two types of decisions differ
  • How people reason about intentions and intentionality
  • How people think about hypocrites and hypocrisy
  • How trying to get inside others’ heads changes how we feel about them and ourselves
  • What makes some people more accurate mind readers than others

At heart, the work in our lab focuses on anything involving how people think and feel about other people, particularly as this relates to how people form and revise their moral judgments. 

For more information, see my lab website: Morality and Social Cognition Lab

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

Lozano, E. B., & Laurent, S. M. (2019). Dammed when others shift blame, even more dammed when they don’t: The persistence of expectations for blame-shifting. PLOS ONE.

Laurent, S. M. , & Clark, B. A. M. (2019). What makes hypocrisy? Folk definitions, attitude/behavior combinations, attitude strength, and private/public distinctions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology.

Laurent, S. M. , Reich, B. J., & Skorinko, J. L. M. (2019). Reconstructing the side-effect effect: A new way of understanding how moral considerations drive intentionality asymmetries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 

Laurent, S. M., Nuñez, N. L., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2016). Unintended, but still blameworthy: The roles of awareness, desire, and anger in negligence, restitution, and punishment. Cognition and Emotion, 30(7), 1271-1288. 

Laurent, S. M., Nuñez, N. L., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2015). The influence of knowledge and desire on perception of each other and related mental states, and different mechanisms for blame. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60

Myers, M. W., Laurent, S. M., & Hodges, S. D. (2014). Perspective taking instructions and self-other overlap: Different motives for helping. Motivation and Emotion38(2), 224-234. 

Education

Social Psychology, Ph.D., University of Oregon
Psychology, BA, University of Massachusetts

Sean Laurent received his B.A. (Psychology and Commonwealth College) in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts, and received his Ph.D. (Social Psychology) in 2010 from the University of Oregon.

Creative/Performing Interests

  • Social/Moral Cognition; Moral Emotions
  • Blame/Praise; Intentions/Intentionality; Causal Responsibility
  • Perspective Taking; Empathy; Empathic Accuracy
  • Psychology and the Law

Highlighted Publications

Laurent, S. M., Reich, B., & Skorinko, J. (2019). Reconstructing the side-effect effect: A new way of understanding how moral considerations drive intentionality asymmetries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Laurent, S. M., & Clark, B. A. M. (2019). What Makes Hypocrisy? Folk Definitions, Attitude/Behavior Combinations, Attitude Strength, and Private/Public Distinctions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 41(2), 104-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973533.2018.1556160

Laurent, S. M., Nuñez, N. L., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2016). Unintended, but still blameworthy: the roles of awareness, desire, and anger in negligence, restitution, and punishment. Cognition and Emotion, 30(7), 1271-1288. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2015.1058242

Lozano, E. B., & Laurent, S. M. (2019). The effects of admitting fault versus shifting blame on expectations for others to do the same. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213276

Laurent, S. M., Nuñez, N. L., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2015). The influence of desire and knowledge on perception of each other and related mental states, and different mechanisms for blame. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60, 27-38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2015.04.009

Laurent, S. M., Clark, B. A. M., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2015). Why side-effect outcomes do not affect intuitions about intentional actions: Properly shifting the focus from intentional outcomes back to intentional actions. Journal of personality and social psychology, 108(1), 18-36. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000011

View all publications on Illinois Experts

Recent Publications

Laurent, S. M., & Clark, B. A. M. (2019). What Makes Hypocrisy? Folk Definitions, Attitude/Behavior Combinations, Attitude Strength, and Private/Public Distinctions. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 41(2), 104-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973533.2018.1556160

Laurent, S. M., Reich, B., & Skorinko, J. (2019). Reconstructing the side-effect effect: A new way of understanding how moral considerations drive intentionality asymmetries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Lozano, E. B., & Laurent, S. M. (2019). The effects of admitting fault versus shifting blame on expectations for others to do the same. PLoS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0213276

Nelson, B. W., Laurent, S. M., Bernstein, R., & Laurent, H. K. (2017). Perspective-taking influences autonomic attunement between partners during discussion of conflict. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 34(2), 139-165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407515626595

Laurent, S. M., Nuñez, N. L., & Schweitzer, K. A. (2016). Unintended, but still blameworthy: the roles of awareness, desire, and anger in negligence, restitution, and punishment. Cognition and Emotion, 30(7), 1271-1288. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2015.1058242

View all publications on Illinois Experts