A morality scale moving between the words Bad, Unjust, Unworthy, and Wrong, and Good, Just, Worthy, and Right.

Moral Development

A major part of my research focuses on the origins, development, and outcomes of different moral views. My dissertation examines young Americans’ moral development over 10 years (from ages 13-18 until 23-28), drawing on 4 waves of in-depth interviews, field notes, and survey data. I have a project that explores the development of Christian nationalist ideological views among American young adults. On the other end of the political spectrum, I am working on a project that examines how millennials develop "Extremely Liberal" political orientations, including those who might be considered "woke" and some who identify as socialists, communists, and anarchists. I also have a project that analyzes the development and cultural variation of the "Sanctity" moral foundation through application of a Moral Foundations Dictionary to longitudinal interview data.

Religious protesters hold signs that say Jesus doesn't build walls and Faith over fear.

Religion and Society

An interest in race and religion led me to sociology. My final two years of undergrad were almost exclusively dedicated to Sociology and Religious Studies courses. I then went to seminary where I focused on theology, philosophy, and ethics that critically engaged culture and society. Religion continues to play a highly influential role in society, but studies of religion need major innovation, which I seek to bring in my work. My paper, "Religion Imagined," investigates the implicit conceptual structures beneath American adults' conscious religious understandings. My paper, "Moral Religiosities," identifies how different moral orientations support different forms of religiosity among young adults.

Computational chart showing principal factors for variation in image schemas of religion

Culture, Cognition, and Emotion

I also have a theoretical interest in culture, cognition, and emotion, which influences all of my studies. My Master’s thesis drew on the cognitive sciences to theorize the influence of “image schemas” in implicitly structuring cultural understandings. My working paper, "Culture Beneath Discourse," theorizes various emergent levels of cultural knowledge and how they form more complex cultural structures. My book, Religious Parenting, advances a “cultural models” approach for theorizing how culture works. My dissertation projects highlight the various ways emotional development influences ideological views.