Research Areas & Interests
(Or, download my Research Statement)
Self-Enhancement Bias & Error
An important psychological distinction can be drawn between those who accurately claim to be better than others and those who make this claim erroneously.
Our work in this area demonstrates that self-enhancement errors in judgment are overdiagnosed by current theory and measurement. Indeed, most people who claim to be better (or worse) than average are accurate in their self-evaluation (Heck & Krueger, 2015).
We also show that observers are sensitive to this distinction: self-superiority claims are viewed as immoral whether justified with supporting evidence or not. Conversely, claiming to be better than average is perceived as high in competence as long as there is no evidence available to disprove the claim (Heck & Krueger, 2016).
The Volunteer's Dilemma
In a Volunteer's Dilemma, one person must pay a small cost to benefit those around them. If nobody volunteers to do so, all suffer.
Our work in this area shows that when placed in the dilemma, individuals reason egocentrically to solve it. Players tend to pay attention to their own payoffs and ignore the payoffs available to others when making their decision (Krueger, Heck, & Wagner, under review).
We find that volunteering is viewed as both a moral and a competent decision. Observers are also biased by the outcome: getting defected against reduces targets' perceived competence (Heck & Krueger, in press).
The Social Self: Uniqueness, Happiness, & Prosociality
In the image to the right, each shirt parrots the same text: "Be Different." I am interested in broad questions of how our sense of Self influences the judgments we make of others and ourselves, and how these judgments impact our identities as adequately unique, happy, and moral individuals.
Some preliminary data in this area suggest that those who are motivated by a need for uniqueness are more likely to make self-superiority claims when they know that actual superiority is rare in the population. This is an area I hope to develop (and collaborate over) in the future.
I have coauthored a chapter on the Self and published a book review on happiness. As a visiting assistant professor at Brown University, I designed and taught a topics course on The Social Self.
Computation & Simulation
Thinking computationally and running computer simulations to test complex models and predictions has been a useful skill I developed during my PhD. Much of my work contains simulations that test boundary conditions and specific 'what-if' scenarios.
Some peripheral interests I have in this area include building a model of inductive reasoning (the Inductive Reasoning Model Simulator) and testing arguments for and against Null Hypothesis Significance Testing as a valid method of inference (Krueger & Heck, 2017).
Though not a specific area of research, this is a skill I will continue to develop and a strength I will bring to the classroom and the lab. I write primarily in MATLAB, although I am familiar with both Python and R.