Psychology Faculty

Lucian Conway, Ph.D.

Lucian Conway, Ph.D.

Professor of Social Psychology

Office: Skaggs Bldg 239

Personal Website


Social Psychology; Advanced Social Psychology; Political Psychology Seminar; Psychology Proctoring; Faculty Director of Psychology 100 Program


LOOKING FOR STUDY GUIDES FOR CONWAY'S SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY CLASS?  Here is a link to Luke Conway's Psychology 350s (Social Psychology) web page:


Personal Summary

I have two primary research emphases that cut across all the broad focal areas listed above. (1) How do people come to share a particular set of beliefs and behaviors? I am especially interested in ways that people come to share beliefs with others unintentionally and implicitly – that is, it sort of happens to them without their awareness or consent. (“I woke up one day and realized that my beliefs look just like my parents! How on earth did that happen?”) For example, I’ve done work that suggests people can form shared beliefs on things even when they don’t talk about them – such as forming shared impressions with others about how much time has passed, even when they are interacting with those others about something completely unrelated to their experience of time. I’m also currently pursuing work on how, unless we actively think about what other people are saying, we inevitably come to agree with them. All of this work on the formation of implicit consensus has multiple implications for politics, international peace, and the origins of culture.

(2) A second area I’m also passionate about involves the causes and consequences of complex (as opposed to simple) thinking. Complexity research is cool, because – using the well-validated integrative complexity construct -- we can code all sorts of famous people’s public and private statements for how complex they are, and test all kinds of interesting ideas in the process. Recently-completed, ongoing, or planned research projects are relevant to the following focal questions: Are lies more complex than the truth? (For example, we coded archival materials for one famous case of lying – Enron leaders during that company’s scandal). What is the impact of complex thinking on international peace? Relatedly, what is the relationship between complexity and political leadership? (For example, we coded Middle Eastern leaders’ speeches for complexity before, during, and after 9/11; we are currently coding all State of the Union speeches from every single U.S. President, in order to compare their complexity to various personality and outcome variables; we will soon undertake a similar project comparing the complexity of Canadian Prime Ministers previously rated “good” versus “bad” by historians). Complex thinking obviously has many applied outcomes worthy of pursuing – on an individual level, it has both known and potential effects on mental health and development; on a larger scale, it has both known and potential effects on international peace (and war). I am interested in all of these consequences of complex thinking – and more.

Both of these broad areas of interest often come together in the study of one topic relevant to politics, peace, and culture: Stereotypes.

Link to Dr. Conway's Political Cognition Lab


Field of Study

Political Psychology; Peace Psychology; Social Psychology; Cultural Psychology

Selected Publications

Conway, L. G., III., Thoemmes, F., Allison, A., Towgood, K. H., Wagner, M., Davey, K., Salcido, A., Stovall, A., Dodds, D. P., Bongard, K, & Conway, K. R. (2008). Two ways to be complex and why they matter: Implications for attitude strength and lying. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, XX, XX-XX.

Conway, L. G., III, & Schaller, M. (2007). How communication shapes culture. In K. Fiedler (Ed.), Frontiers of Social Psychology: Social communication (107-127). New York: Psychology Press.

Thoemmes, F., & Conway, L. G., III. (2007). Integrative complexity of 41 U.S. presidents. Political Psychology, 28, 193-226.

Conway, L. G., III, Clements, S. M., & Tweed, R. G. (2006). Collectivism and governmentally initiated restrictions: A cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis across nations and within a nation. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 37, 20-41.

Tweed, R. G., & Conway, L. G., III. (2006). Coping strategies and culturally influenced beliefs about the world. In Paul T. P. Wong, & Lilian C. J. Wong (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural perspectives on stress and coping: International and cultural psychology series (pp. 133-153). Dallas, TX: Spring Publications.

Conway, L. G., III, & Schaller, M. (2005). When authority’s commands backfire: Attributions about consensus and effects on deviant decision making. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 89, 311-326.

Suedfeld, P., Leighton, D.C., & Conway, L.G. III (2005). Integrative complexity and decision- making in international confrontations. In M. Fitzduff & C.E. Stout (Eds.), The psychology of resolving global conflicts: From war to peace. Volume 1, Nature vs. Nurture (pp. 211-237). New York: Praeger.

Conway, L. G., III. (2004). Social contagion of time perception. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 113-120.

Schaller, M., Conway, L. G., III & Crandall, C. S. (2004). The psychological foundations of culture: An Introduction. In M. Schaller & C. S. Crandall (Eds.), The psychological foundations of culture (pp. 3-12). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Conway, L. G., III. (2004). Political bias at an academic meeting. Clio’s Psyche, 11, 54-55.

Conway, L. G., III, Suedfeld, P., & Clements, S. M. (2003). Beyond the American reaction: Integrative complexity of Middle Eastern leaders during the 9/11 crisis. Psicologia Politica, 27, 93-103.

Schaller, M., Conway, L. G., III, & Tanchuk, T. (2002). Selective pressures on the once and future contents of ethnic stereotypes: Effects of the 'communicability' of traits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 861-877.

Conway, L. G., III, & Schaller, M. (2002). On the verifiability of evolutionary psychological theories: An analysis of the psychology of scientific persuasion. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 152-166. (Recipient of 2001 SPSP Student Publication Award—Honorable Mention).

Recent Presentations:

Conway, L. G., III (2008, June). Effective political communication: Are complex messages more persuasive? Colloquium presented at The Wilderness Society, Bozeman, Montana.

Conway, L. G. III. (2007, January). The contamination of cultural beliefs: Cognitive consequences of perceived social pressure. Colloquium presented at The University of Michigan, Culture and Cognition Program, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Conway, L. G., III. (2007, January). Why thinking matters: The non-thoughtful spread of culture. In Jonah Berger (Chair), The spread of culture. Symposi