Australian National University
Senior Lecturer & Researcher
2018 - Present
University of Southern California
Postdoc & Research Associate
2015 - 2017
University of California, Irvine
2012 - 2015
Victoria University of Wellington
My research and training are in memory and cognition. I examine the ways that memory and belief can go awry, and how various cognitive biases influence the way we evaluate information around us.
How do we come to believe that things are true—even when they are not? How can we remember things that never actually happened? To what extent can we correct myths and false beliefs, or even protect ourselves from succumbing to them in the first place?
These are the questions I try to answer, by understanding the cognitive mechanisms that lead people to adopt—and hold on to—widely-disseminated myths and personal false beliefs and memories.
When people assess truth, memory, credibility and trust, they are unwittingly influenced by tangential evidence and fleeting experiences of familiarity or cognitive fluency.
One kind of tangential evidence is what my colleagues and I call "truthiness" in our research, which we define as the process by which ordinary, intelligent people are swayed by tangentially related, pseudoevidence that leads them to believe that a claim is true - or "truth that comes from the gut and not books" as coined by Stephen Colbert.
Beyond understanding the mechanisms that cause memory and belief to go awry, I also address the applied issues that fall out of these metacognitive processes — how we evaluate science and how we evaluate evidence, in the courtroom and in our day-to-day experiences, as students, teachers, and as we are going about our lives.