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Jesse L. Preston, PhD (Associate Professor)

Jesse Preston



Belief, Psychology of Religion, Science and Religion, Morality, Climate change

Research description:

I study the beliefs that people hold most dear – religion, science, and moral beliefs – and what gives rise to the meaning derived from such belief. Much of my work has focused on the study of religion and belief in God, as these represent some of the most meaningful and important beliefs people hold. My research has explored concepts of mind and agency, belief in God, political attitudes, and the relationship between scientific and religious belief, and conflicts between belief systems. Broad themes in my research explore the relationship between ideologies, such as political conflict, climate change attitudes, inter-religious conflict, and conflict between religion and science.

Accepting new PhD students for 2018

Representative Publications:

  • Preston, J. L. (in press). The egocentric teleological bias: How self-serving morality shapes perceptions of intelligent design. To appear in J. Graham & K. Gray (Eds.) Atlas of Moral Psychology. Guilford Press.
  • Preston, J. L. & Shin, F. (2017). Spirituality induces awe through the small self in religious and non-religious individuals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 70, 212-221.
  • Ritter, R. S., Preston, J. L., Salomon, E. S., & Johnson, D. R. (2016). Imagine no religion: Heretical disgust, anger, and the symbolic purity of mind. Cognition and Emotion, 30, 778-796.
  • Ritter, R. S., Preston, J. L., & Hernandez, J.I. (2014). Happy Tweets: Christians are happier, more socially connected, and less analytical than Atheists on Twitter. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 243-249.
  • Preston, J. L. & Ritter, R. S. (2013). Different effects of God and religion on prosociality with the ingroup and outgroup. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 1471-1483.
  • Preston, J. L., Ritter, R. S., & Hepler, J. (2013). Neuroscience and the soul: Competing explanations for the human experience. Cognition, 127, 31-37.Preston, J. & Epley, N. (2009). Science and God: An automatic opposition between ultimate explanations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 238-241.
  • Dijksterhuis, A., Preston, J., Wegner, D. M., & Aarts, H. (2008). Effects of subliminal priming of self and God on judgments of authorship. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 2-9.

Download open access versions of publications

Full list of publications (Google Scholar)