Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior
School of Management
Professor Dawson researches motivated reasoning, or the ways in which people think about evidence that bears on an issue they care deeply about. She and her coauthors have demonstrated a "Can I / Must I" distinction in motivated reasoning: people typically apply a lower standard of acceptance to evidence that appears to support their own preferred beliefs (when they ask, "Can I believe this?"), but a higher standard to evidence that appears to contradict them ("Must I believe this?"). Whereas we typically think of motivated reasoning as impairing the quality of decisions, Professor Dawson suggests instead that the motivation to reject a proposition can actually lead to better decisions. Most recently, she has used the "Can I / Must I" model to predict and explain people's perceptions of their own and others' social status in established groups. Her other interests inlcude social cognition, social status and power, and health decision making. Professor Dawson teaches Enhancing Negotiation Skills.