My research focuses on three sets of issues. The first concerns the cognitive, motivational, and social factors that enable people to transcend the "here and now." People often get immersed in their immediate egocentric concerns. My lab examines what enables people to go beyond those myopic concerns and see themselves in the future, through another person's eyes, in different societies and cultures, and in hypothetical and novel situations. There is marked variation in the breadth of people’s mental horizons, namely, in how distant in time, culture, and geography are the possibilities people envision, care about, and plan for. My research seeks to shed light on the psychological mechanisms that narrow or broaden people’s mental horizons. We also explore the real life consequences of narrow vs. broad mental horizons for the way people relate to their social and natural environment.
The second set of issues concerns self control. The question is when and how people fail to do what they want while possessing the knowledge, skill, and opportunity that are required to do what they want. How do we—individuals or groups—(sometimes) manage to act in line with our overriding goals when faced with tempting alternatives? This research investigates the conscious and unconscious mechanisms that serve to resolve conflicts between people's local, short-term concerns and their global, long-term concerns.
The third set of issues distinguishes between analytical and associative thinking and examines the effect of emotional states and personal desires on self perception, social judgment, and decision making. The goal of this research is to understand the mechanisms that underlie stereotyping, confirmatory hypothesis-testing, and wishful thinking about ourselves and others.