Dr Joseph Sweetman
+44 (0)1392 722499
Washington Singer 124d
Washington Singer Laboratories, University of Exeter, Perry Road, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG, UK
Office hours: For my office hours please book a time via https://calendly.com/joe_sweetman/office-hour
For my office hours please book a time via https://calendly.com/joe_sweetman/office-hour
I am a Senior lecturer, co-lead for equality, diversity and inclusion, and year 2 tutor in the department of psychology. Broadly speaking, my research interests focus on moral and political cognition (see Research tab). How do people make their judgments about what is right and what is wrong? How do people think, feel, and act in relation to political issues? Having done my PhD at the beginning of psychology's replication crisis, I am also particularly interested in replication, open science and statistical inference in the mind, brain and behavioural sciences. Finally, when I am feeling particularly optimistic, I am interested in applied research to address priority areas such as social inequality, health and well-being, and pro-environmental behaviour.
I welcome enquires from those wanting to undertake doctoral research on moral cognition.
Post Graduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning (Cardiff University)
PhD (Cardiff University)
MSc (Cardiff University)
I conducted my doctoral research at the School of Psychology (Cardiff University) as part of a 1 + 3 ESRC Studentship. After winning the Hadyn Ellis prize for best PhD dissertation I went on to take up a fixed-term lecturer position within the school. Having lectured at Cardiff between 2011-2013 I took up a proleptic Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Research Fellowship in Psychology at Exeter between 2013-2016. I have now returned to academic staff as a Senior lecturer here at Exeter.
Research group links
Broadly speaking, my basic research interests focus on moral and political cognition. Below I outline a few questions that interest me and that I have worked on. Having done my PhD at the beginning of psychology's replication crisis, I am also particularly interested in replication, open science and statistical inference in the mind, brain and behavioural sciences
Moral mind/brain questions
Is the moral mind/brain composed of distinct, domain-specific systems? One of the most provocative ideas in the contemporary science of moral cognition is that our moral minds/brains are composed of distinct, domain-specific systems: moral pluralism. The reduced role of intent when judging "impure" (e.g., incest), vs. harmful (e.g., assault), acts (i.e., the intent × domain effect) provides some of the strongest evidence for moral pluralism. I've been interested in examing the evidence for the intent × domain effect and testing competing explanations (moral pluralism vs. more domain-general explanations) and examining potential methodological confounds. Ultimately this line of research is aimed at delineating the phenomenon we are tyrying to explain: our moral mind/brain.
What constitutes our moral capacity? Why are some actions morally permissible while other, very similar actions (e.g., in terms of outcomes), are not. I am interested in explaining how we make judgments of the deontic status of an unlimted array of actions, characters, and institutions. This is a relatively new line of research and I am drawing on insights from computational/representational models (i.e., behavioral theories) of the moral mind/brain and the cognitive neuroscience of morality. I beleive that theories of moral cogntion should, in part, be judged by their descriptive adequacy, that is, their ability to explain the moral judgments (i.e., behaviour) of people across a wide set of acts (i.e., stimuli). I am also persuaded by arguments that efforts to understand the neurobiolgy underpinning high-level cognition (e.g., moral cogntion) should take computational/representational models (i.e., behavioral theories) seriously.
Political mind/brain questions
How do we think and act in relation to social hierarchy? Forms of social hierarchy based on gender, class, or race are ubiquitous in human socities. I'm interested in examining how these systems of group-based hierarchy and opression are maintained and alterted through political thought and action. My work in this area has examined the role of emotions such as admiration and the key role of ideology in regulating systems of social hierachy.
How do people think about future societies and forms of social organisation and how does this influence political action? I'm interested in the "radical imagination" and the role that imagining alternatives (e.g., "another world is possible") plays in political action and changes to systems of group-based hierarchy and opression.
Applied research questions
What evidence-based contribution can psychology make to tackling social problems? Inspired by Kenneth and Mamie Clark and Ignacio Martín-Baró, I am interested in the potential for psychological science to inform evidence-based social polcies in areas such as inequality, health and climate change. My initial work in this programme of research has been examining the evidence for current forms of equality and diversity training interventions within higher education. Recently, I've been interested in the evidence for cooperative learning on outcomes like prejudice reduction and attainment for minoritised groups. In collaboration with Sam Smith (South Devon College) I am now examining the impact of cooperative learning on various social outcomes.
2020 £5,000 Welcome Trust pre-seedcorn funding
2014 £5,000 Equality Challenge Unit - evaluation of unconcious bias training
2010 ESRC visiting scholar award
2006-2011 ESRC 1 + 3 Doctoral research studentship
Publications by category
Publications by year
I currently teach the following modules:
PSY3401 Research project
PSY3432 The moral mind (Module convenor)
PSY2213 Social psychology II: Practical (Module convenor)
Supervision / Group
- Damilola Makanju Makanju
- Laura Nesbitt
- Sam Smith