Corey Cusimano

Mission Statement: Living among others requires evaluating and regulating minds. Social life involves debating others’ beliefs, offering sympathy or tough love in response to others’ emotions, and encouraging or questioning others’ goals. We likewise confront our own beliefs, desires, and feelings as we navigate disagreements, resist temptation, and seek out therapy or social support. For these reasons, understanding everyday decision making requires understanding how people evaluate mental states, including how they determine whether those states are rational, whether they can change, and who is responsible for them. I study these problems by integrating insights from cognitive science, moral philosophy, and epistemology in order to advance psychological theory and improve decision making.

Most recent, important paper

Right now, my main line of work concerns everyday belief evaluation. My recent paper, Reconciling scientific and commonsense values to improve reasoning, provides a short review of this work.

Overview of research

I research the social aspects of metacognition, including how people evaluate their own and others’ beliefs and emotions, and how these evaluations affect judgment and decision making.

In one line of work, I study the lay ethics of belief - that is, the norms that people use to evaluate their own and others’ beliefs. I have found that people do not always treat objective, evidence-based reasoning as the most justified way to form beliefs. Instead, people sometimes treat the moral quality of a belief, such as whether the belief is respectful or helpful, as a consideration that ought to bias reasoning. Indeed, people sometimes know that they are morally biased but affirm their morally-biased beliefs as justified. In light of this work, I have argued that changing people’s standards of reasoning is a promising way to encourage more open-minded thinking. I recently published a short, accessible paper summarizing this work.

I also study people’s implicit theories of reasoning, and in particular, how people think about when and how others can change their minds. I have shown that people blame others for their beliefs and emotions because they often think that others have voluntary control over those states. My work has applied people’s lay theory of reasoning to:

People tend to attribute control to others in ways that can exacerbate conflict. For instance, people tend not to adopt others’ perspectives, and so, they believe that others can change their minds more easily than they, themselves can.