Assistant Professor of Psychology
213 Kanbar Hall
My research interests focus on the psychological defenses people employ to maintain a meaningful and controllable conception of reality and a positive moral identity when faced with circumstances that threaten to undermine these perceptions. I am particularly interested in the destructive consequences these defensive processes have on interpersonal and intergroup relationships. For example, one recent line of research examines how people engage in scapegoating to protect their perceived personal control or moral identity when confronted with large-scale negative events (e.g., climate change, economic turmoil). In a related line of research, I am exploring how feelings of guilt over personal/collective harm-doing can drive defensive expressions of moral outrage at other perceived harm-doers in the name of justice.
Sullivan, D., Landau, M. J., Rothschild, Z. K., Keefer, L. A. (2014). Searching for the root of all evil: An existential-sociological perspective on political enemyship and scapegoating. Invited Chapter in J. van Prooijen & P. A. M. van Lang (Eds.), Power, Politics and Paranoia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Press.
Rothschild, Z. K., Landau, M. J., Molina, L. K, Branscombe, N., & Sullivan, D. (2013). Displacing blame over the ingroup's harming of a disadvantaged group can fuel moral outrage at a third-party scapegoat. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 898-906.
Rothschild, Z. K., Landau, M. J., Sullivan, D., & Keefer, L. A. (2012). A dual-motive model of scapegoating: Displacing blame to reduce guilt or increase control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 1148-1163.
Landau, M. J., Sullivan, D., Keefer, L. A., & Rothschild, Z. K. (2012). Subjectivity uncertainty theory of objectification: Compensating for uncertainty about how to positively relate to others by downplaying their subjective attributes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 1234-1246.
Keefer, L. A., Landau, M. J., Rothschild, Z. K., & Sullivan, D. (2012). Attachment to objects as compensation for close others' perceived unreliability. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 912-917.
Landau, M. J., Sullivan, D., Rothschild, Z. K., & Keefer, L. A. (2012). Deriving solace from a nemesis: Having scapegoats and enemies buffers the threat of meaninglessness. In P. R. Shaver & M. Mikulincer (Eds.), Meaning, mortality, and choice: The social psychology of existential concerns. (pp. 183-202). American Psychological Association.
Sullivan, D., Landau, M. J., Branscombe, N. B., & Rothschild, Z. K. (2012). Competitive victimhood as a response to accusations of ingroup harm doing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 778-795. *Winner of the Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Award
Rothschild, Z. K., Landau, M. J., & Sullivan, D. (2011). By the numbers: Structure-seeking individuals prefer quantitative over qualitative representations of personal value to compensate for the threat of unclear performance contingencies. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 1508-1521.
Landau, M. J., Rothschild, Z. K., & Sullivan, D. (2011). The extremism of everyday life: Fetishism as a defense against existential uncertainty. In M. A. Hogg & D. L. Blaylock (Eds.), Extremism and the psychology of uncertainty. (pp. 131-146). West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
Vail, K. E., Rothschild, Z. K., Weise, D. R., Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., & Greenberg, J. (2010). A terror management analysis of the psychological function of religion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 84-94.
Sullivan, D., Landau, M. J., & Rothschild, Z. K. (2010). An existential function of enemyship: Evidence that people attribute influence to personal and political enemies to compensate for threats to control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 434-439.
Rothschild, Z. K., Abdollahi, A., & Pyszczynski, T. (2009). Does peace have a prayer? The effect of mortality salience, compassionate values, and religious fundamentalism on hostility toward out-groups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 816-827.