Dr. Carter's Research Lab

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Research Interests

Dr. Carter's primary interests reside in the realms of judgment and decision-making, social cognition, and consumer behavior. He uses a wide range of methodological approaches (laboratory experiments, archival analyses, field studies) and analytical techniques to gain greater insight into human judgment and behavior.

  • Expression and detection of bias in social judgments and beliefs
  • The role of introspection in biased self-assessments
  • Motivated reasoning and self-deception
  • Happiness and consumer behavior
  • Formation and expression of political beliefs

What Dr. Carter is looking for in a Research Assistant:

Research assistants will be involved with many aspects of the research process, including developing experimental materials, data collection (in and outside of the lab), data entry, and literature reviews. Highly motivated students will have opportunities for more involvement in study design, statistical analysis, and other more advanced tasks.

All students working as research assistants in Dr. Carter's lab are expected to be highly conscientious and hard-working, able to juggle a variety of tasks, have strong skills with MS Office/Google Docs, and some familiarity with library resources (e.g., for performing literature searches). All applications will be considered carefully, but here are a few additional preferred qualifications for the various types of research positions within the lab:  

  • Work Study Research Assistants
    • GPA: 2.0 or higher
    • Class year: Any
    • Classwork: No requirements
  • Research Experience Students
    • GPA: 2.0 or higher
    • Class year: Any
    • Classwork: No requirements
    • Preferred skills: Experience with SPSS
  • Research Practicum Students
    • GPA: 2.5 or higher
    • Classification: Sophomore or higher
    • Classwork: PSYC 202 or 204 required; PSYC 251 (Social Psychology) preferred
    • Preferred skills: Experience with SPSS
  • Independent Study Students
    • GPA: 3.0 or higher
    • Classification: Junior or higher
    • Classwork: PSYC 202 and 204 requiredPSYC 251 (Social Psychology) preferred
    • Preferred skills: Experience with SPSS

  If you are interested in working with Dr. Carter, please get in touch via email (tjcarter@roanoke.edu), and complete the application for research assistants.

Current Research

A primary target of my intellectual curiosity over the past few years has been the many different ways by which our judgments and behaviors can become biased, altering the expression of that judgment or behavior from what it would otherwise have been-or what it normatively should be. In particular, I'm fascinated by the forces-both internal and external-that produce a biased judgment, and the complex interplay of cognitive and motivational mechanisms by which they operate, with the ultimate goal of improving bias-detection and correction. Most recently, I have been investigating these processes in the realm of political attitudes and beliefs, reactions of baseball umpires (and laboratory participants) to accusations of unfairness, and suspicions in a laboratory context.

Understanding the types of decisions that maximize happiness is another focus of my research, one that I have pursued largely in the domain of consumer behavior. Much of that work has centered on identifying the cognitive and affective mechanisms underlying the finding that material possessions (e.g. clothes, electronic gadgets) tend to be less satisfying than experiences (concerts, meals at restaurants). Ultimately, the goal of this work is to uncover more general principles governing happiness and well-being. Recently, I have been working on the secondary consequences of purchasing experiences vs. possessions, such as changes to our general mindset after recalling one or the other type of purchase. In addition, I have been examining some of the consequences of learning about others' purchases, in terms of the attributions we make about their underlying character.