Sean M. Laurent

Section 1

Program Area: Social/Personality

Assistant Professor of Psychology

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Sean Laurent received his B.A. (Psychology and Commonwealth College) in 2004 from the University of Massachusetts, and received his Ph.D. (Social Psychology) in 2010 from the University of Oregon.


  • Social/Moral Cognition; Moral Emotions
  • Blame/Praise; Intentions/Intentionality; Causal Responsibility
  • Perspective Taking; Empathy; Empathic Accuracy
  • Psychology and the Law

Research Description

What makes some people better (or worse) than others at decoding others' thoughts and emotions? How do people attempt to understand others' minds, and how does trying to get inside another person's head affect feelings about that person and the self? How do intuitions or knowledge about others' mental states affect judgments of them and their actions, such as a sense of them as "good" or "bad" or a desire to see them blamed or praised, punished or rewarded?  

These are the types of questions that motivate my work, organized around the central theme of "how people think about, feel about, and form judgments of others' minds and actions."  

Much of my recent research has focused on the cognitive and affective mechanisms that underlie judgments of blame and desire to punish. Because judgments about harm, responsibility, and blameworthiness are central to many types of legal judgments, this research has also sparked an interest in how folk psychology underlies legal decision-making. However, I am also interested in the other side of this question:how people reason about praise, and the differences in reasoning processes that underlie why people appear quite willing to blame others for causing harm, but are hesitant to give praise for causing benefit. 


  • Ph.D. from the University of Oregon



Book Contributions

  • Hodges, S.D., S.M. Laurent, and K.L. Lewis. "Specially motivated, feminine, or just female: Do women have an empathic accuracy advantage?." Managing interpersonal sensitivity: Knowing when - and when not - to understand others.. Ed. J.L. Smith, W. Ickes, J. Hall, and S.D. Hodges. 2011.

Journal Articles

  • Laurent, Sean M., and Brian A. Clark. "What makes hypocrisy? Folk definitions, attitude/behavior combinations, attitude strength, and private/public distinctions. ." Basic and Applied Social Psychology (2018):
  • Laurent, Sean M., Brandon J. Reich, and Jeanine L. Skorinko. "Reconstructing the side-effect effect: A new way of understanding how moral considerations drive intentionality asymmetries. ." Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (2018):
  • Laurent, S.M., N.L. Nuñez, and K.A. Schweitzer. "Unintended, but still blameworthy: The roles of awareness, desire, and anger in negligence, restitution, and punishment. ." Cognition and Emotion (2015):
  • Laurent, S.M., N.L. Nuñez, and K.A. Schweitzer. "The influence of knowledge and desire on perception of each other and related mental states, and different mechanisms for blame.." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2015):
  • Laurent, S.M., B.A.M. Clark, and K.A. Schweitzer. "Why side-effect outcomes do not affect intuitions about intentional action: Properly shifting the focus from intentional outcomes back to intentional actions. ." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2015):
  • Nuñez, N.L., S.M. Laurent, and J.M. Gray. "Is negligence a first cousin to intentionality? Lay conceptions of negligence and its relationship to intentionality. ." Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology (2014):
  • Laurent, S.M., B.A.M. Clark, S. Walker, and K.D. Wiseman. "Punishing hypocrisy: The roles of hypocrisy and moral emotions in deciding culpability and punishment of criminal and civil moral transgressors. ." Cognition and Emotion (2014):
  • Myers, M.W., S.M. Laurent, and S.D. Hodges. "Perspective taking instructions and self-other overlap: Different motives for helping. ." Motivation and Emotion (2014):
  • Skorinko, J.L., S.M. Laurent, K. Bountress, K.P. Nyein, and D. Kuckuck. "Effect of perspective taking on courtroom decisions. ." Journal of Applied Social Psychology (2014):
  • Lewis, K.L., S.D. Hodges, S.M. Laurent, S. Srivastava, and G. Biancarosa. "Reading between the minds: The use of stereotypes in empathic accuracy. ." Psychological Science (2012):
  • Laurent, S.M., and M.W. Myers. "I know you're me, but who am I? Perspective taking and seeing the other in the self. ." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (2011):
  • Laurent, S.M., and S.D. Hodges. "Gender roles and empathic accuracy: The role of communion in reading minds.." Sex Roles (2009):
Section 2


Facilities Information

Building Remodeling Projects

Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.