Assistant Professor of Psychology
PhD, University of California, Davis
Detailed research description:
Professor Hart’s research program grew out of his interest in humans’ sophisticated cognitive abilities and conscious self-awareness. These faculties are profoundly advantageous in many ways, allowing people to acquire vast knowledge and understanding of the world and to appreciate its awesomeness. At the same time, humans’ expansive consciousness burdens them with knowledge of all the awful realities (and potentialities) of existence – including, most notably, mortality – making for a precarious emotional life that exposes people to psychological turmoil and dysfunction.
Hart’s research explores the psychological processes involved in managing (or mismanaging) this predicament, with a special focus on close relationships (e.g., romantic relationships), self-esteem, and worldviews (i.e., belief systems, such as religion and political ideology). He specializes in attachment theory and terror management theory (TMT), both of which share a view of humans as largely motivated by the need to feel secure. The idea is that many of our goals – large and small, individual and social – are motivated by the need to feel loved, worthwhile, and to imbue life with meaning; and that relationships, self-esteem, and worldviews work together to maintain equanimity. Some current projects involve applying insights from attachment theory and/or TMT to the study of political preferences, financial risk-taking, and memory.
Hart, J., Shaver, P. R., & Goldenberg, J. L. (2005). Attachment, self-esteem, worldviews, and
terror management: Evidence for a tripartite security system. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88, 999-1013.
Goldenberg, J. L., Hart, J., Pyszczynski, T., Warnica, G. M., Landau, M., & Thomas, L. (2006).
Ambivalence toward the body: Death, neuroticism, and the flight from physical sensation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1264-1277.
Hart, J., & Goldenberg, J. L. (2008). A terror management perspective on spirituality and the
problem of the body. In A. Tomer, G. T. Eliason, and P. T. P. Wong (Eds.), Existential
and spiritual issues in death attitudes. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Gillath, O., Hart, J., Noftle, E. E., & Stockdale, G. (2009). Development and validation of a
state measure of attachment anxiety and avoidance. Journal of Research in Personality,
Gillath, O., & Hart, J. (2010). The effects of emotional security and insecurity on political
attitudes and leadership preferences. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 122-
Hart, J., *Schwabach, J. A., & Solomon, S. (2010). Going for broke: Mortality salience
increases risky decision-making on the Iowa gambling task. British Journal of Social
Psychology, 49, 425-432.
Motyl, M., Hart, J., Pyczszynski, T., Weise, D., Maxfield, M., & Siedel, A. (2011). Subtle
priming of shared human experiences eliminates threat-induced negativity toward Arabs,
immigrants, and peace-making. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 1179-
Tracy, J. L., Hart, J., & Martens, J. P. (2011) Death and Science: The existential underpinnings
of belief in intelligent design and discomfort with evolution. PLoS ONE, 6: e17349.
Hart, J., & Burns, D. J. (2012). Nothing concentrates the mind: Thoughts of death improve
recall. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 19, 264-269.
Hart, J., *Hung, J. A., Glick, P., & Dinero, R. E. (2012). He loves her, he loves her not:
Attachment style as a personality antecedent to men's ambivalent sexism. Personality and
Social Psychology Bulletin, 38, 1495-1504.