|| Professor & Departmental Chairperson
Office: Evaristus 423
Phone: (902) 457-6215
Human behaviour can be governed by complex social and moral rules. The goal of my research, being done in collaboration with a colleague at the University of Arizona, is to examine the relations among multiple factors that have been considered important in underlying why people behave as they do. Two variables that have been considered critical in influencing human rule-following behaviour are religious or supernatural control and social control. In other words, people may follow rules because of the religious or spiritual beliefs and/or because of social influences such as fear of consequences for breaking rules or empathic/moral concern for other people. Another factor considered important is “higher-level” cognitive abilities that may facilitate following long-term rules.
In my current research, participants respond to to a series of self-report questionnaires aimed at measuring rule-following behaviour and its potential predictors(e.g. religious beliefs, moral beleifs, sensitivity to social rejection, negative evaluation by others, life history, executive functioning). This research is being carried out at both the University of Arizona in Tucson and Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. Participants’ responses to questionnaires will be analyzed using structural equation modelling (SEM), which will provide data-based guesses about which factors cause rule-following. The model generated will serve as a guide for future experimental studies that will manipulate possible casual variables in laboratory settings.