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

Moral Development

My current research focuses on the origins, development, and outcomes of different moral worldviews. My dissertation examines young Americans’ moral development over 10 years (from ages 13-18 until 23-28), drawing on 4 waves of in-depth interview and survey data. I have a second project that investigates development and cultural variation in social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s popular Moral Foundations Theory through application of a Moral Foundations Dictionary to interview data. I am also working on a paper that examines the backgrounds and life experiences that contribute to the moral formation of Liberals and Conservatives.

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

Religion and Society

An interest in race and religion introduced 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 pervasive role in society, but studies of religion need major innovation, which I seek to bring. I have a project theorizing four different types of religiosity in America, drawing on qualitative findings from my dissertation data. I have a second project that applies these four religiosities to nationally representative data, which offers a new perspective on religious change in America. I am also working on a paper that qualitatively examines the ideological development of Christian Nationalists.

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

Culture and Cognition

I also have a theoretical interest in culture and cognition, 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. I have a working paper that theorizes various ontological levels of cultural knowledge and how they aggregate to form complex cultural structures. My book, Religious Parenting, advances a “cultural models” approach for theorizing how culture works. In my dissertation, I am also examining the relationships of reflexivity and habitus, motivation and justification, and interview and survey data.