My research focuses on the motivational underpinnings and the social and psychological consequences of belief systems, with a focus on political and religious ideologies. In particular, I am interested in (1) how uncertainty and threat may lead people to adopt more conservative political and religious belief systems that can imbue the world with order, meaning, and justice; (2) how the differential experiences of advantaged vs. disadvantaged group members can lead to different rationalizations of the status quo (e.g., inequality) – namely, beliefs that the system is fair and meritocratic vs. beliefs that the system as natural or “divinely” dictated; and (3) the consequences of system-justifying beliefs on subjective well-being. My research suggests that justification of system-level inequalities – including income and gender inequality – is related to increased subjective well-being for members of both advantaged and disadvantaged groups, even though these beliefs can bol ster systems that negatively affect objective well-being. In my work, I combine classic social-psychological experimental methods with advanced statistical techniques using large-scale survey data, such as multilevel modeling and structural equation methods.
Napier, J. L., Mandisodza, A. N., Andersen, S. M., & Jost, J. T. (2006). System justification in responding to the poor and displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 6, 57-73.
Napier, J. L. & Jost, J. T. (2008). Why are conservatives happier than liberals? Psychological Science, 19, 565-572.
Kay, A. C., Gaucher, D., Napier, J. L., Callan, M., & Laurin, K. (2008). God and the government: Testing a compensatory control mechanism for the support of external systems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 18-35.
Jost, J. T., Federico, C. M., & Napier, J. L. (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 307-338.
Napier, J. L., Thorisdottir, H., & Jost, J. T. (2010). The joy of sexism? A multinational investigation of hostile and benevolent justifications for gender inequality and their relation to subjective wellbeing. Sex Roles, 62, 405-419.