Lucas A Keefer

Lucas A Keefer
United States Air Force | UASF

PhD, Social Psychology

About

76
Publications
47,824
Reads
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1,625
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2016 - present
University of Southern Mississippi
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
July 2014 - July 2016
University of Dayton
Position
  • PostDoc Position
August 2009 - July 2014
University of Kansas
Position
  • GTA/GRA

Publications

Publications (76)
Article
Attachment theory posits that close interpersonal relationships provide people with psychological security across the lifespan. Research shows that when people perceive that close others are unreliable, they may seek alternative, non-social sources of security (e.g., deities). Building on this work, the authors hypothesized that attachment to objec...
Article
How do people evaluate candidate solutions to abstract problems that are difficult to grasp? According to conceptual metaphor theory, people can conceptualize abstract ideas in terms of well-known bodily states, even if they are not currently experiencing those bodily states. Extending this perspective, we test a novel metaphoric fit hypothesis con...
Article
Attachment theory proposes that people form strong social ties because certain relationships provide feelings of security and support. Traditionally, theorists and researchers have assumed that because this process is innate and evolved, only human targets are capable of meeting a person's needs for security. Recent research challenges this assumpt...
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While social class has recently become a prominent topic in social psychological research, much of this effort has focused on the psychological consequences of objective and subjective indices of class (e.g., income, perceived status). This approach sheds light on the consequences of social class itself, but overlooks a construct of central importa...
Article
Clinical and personality research consistently demonstrates that people can form unhealthy and problematic attachments to material possessions. To better understand this tendency, the current paper extends past research demonstrating that anxieties about other people motivate these attachments. These findings suggest that although object attachment...
Article
Thibodeau (2022) offers a thoughtful critique of my article (Keefer, 2022), attempting to bridge literatures on conceptual metaphor theory (CMT) and Lacan’s theory of metaphor. In this response, I specifically address issues about the extent to which cognitivist alternatives are able to effectively address concerns about the reductiveness of metaph...
Article
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How do individuals manage to maintain strong emotional and personal relationships with God, despite the physical (and metaphysical) challenges posed by that task? Past studies show that individuals relate to God in characteristic ways based in part on their God concepts, the ways they internally represent the nature of God. The current manuscript s...
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Background Forecasts about the future can dictate actions and behaviors performed in the present moment. Given that periods of elevated acute suicide risk often consist of elevated negative affect and hopelessness, individuals during these periods may more bias-prone and make decisions (e.g., suicide attempts) based on inaccurate affective forecast...
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The relation between religiosity and well-being is one of the most researched topics in the psychology of religion, yet the directionality and robustness of the effect remains debated. Here, we adopted a many-analysts approach to assess the robustness of this relation based on a new cross-cultural dataset (N = 10, 535 participants from 24 countries...
Article
Previous research has demonstrated the association between human communal relationships and well-being. We extend the previous research and view whether relationship orientation to pet relationships affords similar benefits. We examined this with question with two correlational studies. Study 1 viewed the correlations between pet relationship orien...
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Given disparities in the number and success of female relative to male‐led businesses, the current program of research tested whether gender‐based company cues, employment sector (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] vs. non‐STEM) and CEO gender lead to disparities in willingness to invest in start‐up companies. Using both unive...
Article
Recent research on the psychology of metaphor is based primarily on the cognitivist framework provided by conceptual metaphor theory (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). This approach has been generative and does much to explain the pervasive role that metaphoric language plays in everyday life. However, interest in metaphor is not limited to this cognitive a...
Article
Research in Terror Management Theory finds that close interpersonal relationships (e.g., parents, romantic partners) mitigate threat reactions to reminders of mortality. Parasocial relationships (imagined relationships with media personalities) afford many of the same benefits as interpersonal relationships. Do these benefits extend to mortality co...
Article
Individuals are frequently exposed to media describing salient moral violations, often eliciting negative reactions. Three studies examined whether the outrage engendered by such news may serve as a source of personal meaning for justice sensitive individuals. Using an experience sampling method, Study 1 found that among high (but not low) justice...
Article
Past research suggests that death pushes some individuals to strongly promote religious worldviews. The current work explores the role of conceptual metaphor in this process. Past research shows that metaphors can provide meaning and certainty, suggesting that death may therefore cause people to be more attracted to epistemically beneficial metapho...
Article
Coloniality describes the way in which racialized conceptions of being, personhood, and morality inherent in colonial regimes are maintained long after the formal end of colonial enterprises. Central to coloniality has been the material and psychological colonization of space and time, largely by Western and industrialized nations. We propose the i...
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Recent findings suggest that moral outrage signals trustworthiness to others, and such perceptions play a uniquely important role in identifying social opportunities. We conducted four studies (N = 870) investigating how displays of moral outrage are perceived in the specific context of mating. Results indicated participants, particularly women, fo...
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Research suggests that a sense of belonging is a critical prerequisite of happiness and well-being. While some have focused on belonging provided by relationships, other work demonstrates the value of belonging in certain places. In the current research we join these efforts to understand belonging by offering a novel framework for exploring an und...
Article
Although theorists hold somewhat differing conceptions of meaning, there is broad agreement that a sense of meaning in life is a crucial element of psychological well‐being. We begin with a review of initial psychological perspectives on the importance of meaning. Then we review contemporary research on meaning‐making, the benefits of achieving a s...
Article
The growing interest in the personality of non‐human animals required new methodologies, because, unlike human personality research, this literature cannot rely on self‐report methods. Instead, researchers have adapted existing methodologies from both classical animal ethology and human survey‐based research. These have spawned two major sources of...
Article
Although theorists hold somewhat differing conceptions of meaning, there is broad agreement that a sense of meaning in life is a crucial element of psychological well‐being. We begin with a review of initial psychological perspectives on the importance of meaning. Then we review contemporary research on meaning‐making, the benefits of achieving a s...
Article
The growing interest in the personality of non‐human animals required new methodologies, because, unlike human personality research, this literature cannot rely on self‐report methods. Instead, researchers have adapted existing methodologies from both classical animal ethology and human survey‐based research. These have spawned two major sources of...
Article
Past research has established that gratitude, a sense of appreciation for the benefits one has received, is a moral emotion that motivates reciprocity. How does gratitude influence moral evaluations generally? The current paper provides a novel investigation of the relationships between trait gratitude and moral outrage, an index of concern over sp...
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Although research has investigated both moral psychology and evolutionary motivations behind reproduction, psychological issues at the intersection of these two domains remain relatively unexplored. In this paper, we describe anti-natalism, the ethical position that it is immoral to reproduce (e.g., Benatar 2006), and make a first outline of its po...
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Introduction: Drawing on existential psychology we examine the possibility that specific phobias can serve a psychological function. Specifically, we propose that phobic objects allow individuals to focalize anxieties about haphazard existential threats into a more manageable form, reducing perceptions of risk and bolstering control. Method: We tes...
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Contemporary U.S. politics is characterized by polarization and interpartisan antipathy. This is accompanied by a media landscape saturated with coverage of political scandals. Applying a social identity perspective, we examined whether exposure to scandals that threaten partisan's moral group image (i.e., in‐party scandals), may motivate defensive...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent findings suggest that moral outrage serves an interpersonal function of signaling trustworthiness to others and such perceptions play a uniquely important role in identifying social opportunities. We conducted four studies investigating how behavioral displays of moral outrage are perceived in the specific context of mating. Results indicate...
Article
Full-text available
The present study serves as an exploratory investigation of the role of social class in responses to the threat of future debt. Previous work has shown that individuals of high and low subjective social class differ in the ways that they respond to a broad range of threats and uncertainties about the future. Across three studies, we found that lowe...
Article
Past research in social psychology has explored the effects of considering a given policy or issue from different perspectives. In the case of political information, for example, this might mean thinking about broad systemic factors or values that cause an outcome or alternatively focusing on the local actors who are responsible for and/or affected...
Article
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Limbal rings augment perceived facial health and attractiveness. We thus expected sensitivity to their presence would depend on motives to seek alternative relationship partners among those feeling insecure about a current pairbond. Despite partnered women’s relative insensitivity to good gene cues, partnered women feeling relationally dissatisfied...
Preprint
Research suggests that a sense of belonging is a critical prerequisite of happiness and well-being. While some have focused on belonging provided by relationships, other work demonstrates the value of belonging in certain places. In the current research we join these efforts to understand belonging by offering a novel framework for exploring an und...
Article
Full-text available
Individuals are motivated to maintain a sense of meaning, and enact cognitive processes to do so (e.g., perceiving structure in the environment). This motivation to find meaning may ultimately impact humans’ interpretation of bullshit, statements intended to convey profundity without any. Conversely, subtle cues threatening the meaningfulness of bu...
Article
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Humans have evolved a capability to identify and subsequently avoid communicable pathogens. The current research tested whether activation of this system can be co-opted by disease metaphors, which frame abstract social issues as concrete disease risks. We predicted that language framing immigration as a disease would elicit heightened anti-immigra...
Article
Past research indicates that people can meet psychological needs for belonging through a wide array of social surrogates, including fictional characters, pets, and even food. Although previous work illustrates that such targets can provide belonging, little work has explored the everyday prevalence of social surrogacy or the extent to which persona...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers have long acknowledged the importance of a sense of meaning in life. However, this construct proves to be multi-faceted and idiosyncratic, prompting some psychologists to pursue easily administered questionnaires that trade depth for simplicity. The present paper focuses on one popular measure, the Meaning in Life Questionnaire (Steger...
Article
Prior research shows that one's relationship with God is often patterned on interpersonal attachment style. In other words, the expectations people have about the supportiveness of close others tend to color perceptions of God. Past research also shows that well-being corresponds with a more secure view of others in attachment relationships, both i...
Article
Past research on the self-serving attribution bias has shown that people typically protect their self-worth by attributing shortcomings to external factors to avoid personal responsibility. Subsequent work suggests that this pattern is attenuated among individuals highly motivated to achieve personal growth. We attempted to conceptually replicate p...
Article
The perception that God controls one's life can bolster motivation to pursue personal goals, but it can also have no impact and even squelch motivation. To better understand how religious beliefs impact self-regulation, the current research built on Compensatory Control Theory's claim that perceiving the environment as predictable (vs. unpredictabl...
Article
We examined whether the DRM false memory effect can occur when list words are presented below the perceptual identification threshold. In four experiments, subjects showed robust veridical memory for studied words and false memory for critical lures when masked list words were presented at exposure durations of 43 ms per word. Shortening the exposu...
Article
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While bystanders' outrage over moral transgressions may represent a genuine desire to restore justice, such expressions can also be self-serving—alleviating guilt and bolstering one's moral status. Four studies examined whether individual differences in observer justice sensitivity (JSO) moderate the degree to which outrage at third-party harm-doin...
Article
In America, White and affluent middle-school students outperform minority students and those of low socioeconomic status on measures of academic performance. This achievement gap is partly attributable to differences in academic engagement. A promising strategy for engaging students is to elicit an academic possible identity: an image of oneself in...
Article
While researchers in social psychology often explore space and time in isolation, the relations between these dimensions are rarely considered. To address this gap, we explore a model of Time–Space Distanciation, the extent to space and time are abstracted from one another in the cultural coordination of activity. We introduce this construct with a...
Article
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Compensatory control theory proposes that individuals can assuage threatened personal control by endorsing external systems or agents that provide a sense that the world is meaningfully ordered. Recent research drawing on this perspective finds that one means by which individuals can compensate for a loss of control is adherence to ideological beli...
Article
Political metaphors do more than punch up messages; they can systematically bias observers’ attitudes toward the issue at hand. What, then, is an effective strategy for counteracting a metaphor’s influence? One could ignore or criticize the metaphor, emphasizing strong counterarguments directly pertaining to the target issue. Yet if observers rely...
Article
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Why do people express moral outrage? While this sentiment often stems from a perceived violation of some moral principle, we test the counter-intuitive possibility that moral outrage at third-party transgressions is sometimes a means of reducing guilt over one’s own moral failings and restoring a moral identity. We tested this guilt-driven account...
Article
The growing body of research on temporal and spatial experience lacks a comprehensive theoretical approach. Drawing on Giddens' framework, we present time-space distanciation (TSD) as a construct for theorizing the relations between culture, time, and space. TSD in a culture may be understood as the extent to which (1) time and space are abstracted...
Article
Prior research shows that there are stable personality differences in the tendency to attribute human-like mental states to (i.e., anthropomorphize) non-human targets. A separate line of research has explored the extent to which individuals turn to non-human targets as a source of the support and security people often derive from close relationship...
Article
Early accounts of problem solving focused on the ways people represent information directly related to target problems and possible solutions. Subsequent theory and research point to the role of peripheral influences such as heuristics and bodily states. We discuss how metaphor and analogy similarly influence stages of everyday problem solving: Bot...
Article
While Lott's commentary rightly calls for greater attention to the consequences of capitalism, we offer further discussion of one important issue: the psychological study of social class. This work has predominantly focused on the psychological consequences of class itself by studying the ways that objective and subjective status differences influe...
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Although the phenomena of prospection are embedded within cultural contexts, the impact of culture on prospection has not been subjected to systematic study. Drawing on theory and research in social and environmental psychology, sociology, and anthropology, we observe that time and space are heterogeneously organized and understood across different...
Article
Four studies examined whether residential mobility (RM) leads people to view objects as disposable and, in turn, view social ties as disposable. Study 1 showed that tendencies to dispose of objects and social ties are related. Study 2 demonstrated that a history of RM increases the willingness to dispose of objects and, through that, dispose of soc...
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Many corporate logos use pictorial metaphors to influence consumer attitudes. Priming concrete concepts—by means of logo exposure or other procedures—changes attitudes toward dissimilar abstract targets in metaphor-consistent ways. It is assumed, however, that observers apply a logo’s metaphor externally to interpret the company and its service. Th...
Article
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Individuals are motivated to maintain perceptions of order and predictability in the social environment. Compensatory control theory proposes that when an individual's perception of her or his own control is threatened, the individual can turn to external systems that may provide a perception of control (e.g., organized government). Conversely, the...
Article
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Messages in public discourse commonly employ metaphors to describe abstract sociopolitical issues in terms of unrelated concepts. In prior research, exposure to such metaphoric messages influences attitudes. The current research tests the novel possibility that metaphor exposure can elicit defensive avoidance of otherwise benign information. We bui...
Article
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Separate lines of research show that individuals: (a) understand immorality metaphorically as physical contamination; (b) project undesirable self-attributes onto others; and (c) view punishment as eliminating a transgressor’s immorality. Integrating these findings, we hypothesized that individuals project guilt over their own immorality—represente...
Article
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Why are people motivated to support social systems that claim to distribute resources based on hard work and effort, even when those systems seem unfair? Recent research on compensatory control shows that lowered perceptions of personal control motivate a greater endorsement of external systems (e.g., God, government) that compensate for a lack of...
Article
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Previous research shows that people objectify strangers when led to feel uncertain about their ability to positively relate to those targets-termed subjectivity uncertainty. The current research goes further to examine whether, in the context of close relationships, subjectivity uncertainty causes people to adopt simplified perceptions of a relatio...
Article
A metaphoric framing is a message comparing an abstract concept (e.g., the economy) to a dissimilar concept that is more concrete and easier to comprehend (e.g., a vehicle). Metaphoric framings are commonly used in public discourse (e.g., magazine editorials, political campaign advertisements) to communicate about controversial sociopolitical issue...
Article
People frequently encounter messages framing abstract sociopolitical issues (e.g., drug law enforcement) metaphorically in terms of superficially unrelated, more concrete concepts (e.g., military combat). These metaphoric framings are not mere figures of speech; instead, they prompt observers to interpret the target issue using their knowledge of t...
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People commonly talk about goals metaphorically as destinations on physical paths extending into the future or as contained in future periods. Does metaphor use have consequences for people's motivation to engage in goal-directed action? Three experiments examine the effect of metaphor use on students' engagement with their academic possible identi...
Article
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The cross-race effect (CRE) is the tendency to remember same-race (SR) faces better than cross-race (CR) faces. While there has been debate about the causes of the CRE, recent perspectives suggest that a lack of motivation to remember CR faces causes this effect. We provide direct support for this model across two studies manipulating the perceived...
Article
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Political enemyship is common and diverse, ranging from the scapegoating of minority parties by dominant ones to conspiracy theories about the alleged power of one individual to control wide swaths of society. Many social scientists have argued that enemy figures and out-groups play an essential role in the construction and defense of political ide...
Chapter
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In this chapter, the authors explain how the search for meaning can sometimes foster scapegoating and the creation of enemies. They propose that having enemies and scapegoats allows people to attribute negative outcomes to a comprehensible and controllable source, thus adding to the sense that life is meaningful. The authors review recent studies s...
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The authors present a model that specifies 2 psychological motives underlying scapegoating, defined as attributing inordinate blame for a negative outcome to a target individual or group, (a) maintaining perceived personal moral value by minimizing feelings of guilt over one's responsibility for a negative outcome and (b) maintaining perceived pers...
Article
Why do people sometimes view others as objects rather than complete persons? We propose that when peo-ple desire successful interactions with others, yet feel uncertain about their ability to navigate others' subjec-tivity, they downplay others' subjective attributes, focusing instead on their concrete attributes. This account suggests that objecti...
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Commentators agree that the crisis that boiled to a bubble in the fall of 2008 (“the Great Recession”) is the gravest downturn since the depression of the 1930s. That makes it one of the two greatest crises in the history of capitalism. And plainly, the crisis continues, yielding severe joblessness and a growing danger of government defaults, bank...
Article
Research inspired by the compensatory control model (CCM) shows that people compensate for personal control threats by bolstering aspects of the cultural worldview that afford external control. According to the CCM these effects stem from the motivation to maintain perceived order, but it is alternatively possible that they represent indirect effor...
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We Landau, Meier, & Keefer (2010) reviewed a growing body of research demonstrating metaphors' far-reaching influence on social information processing. In their commentary, IJzerman and Koole (2011) claimed that we devoted insufficient attention to the origin of metaphors, and they reviewed research showing that bodily, social, and cultural experie...
Article
Consistent with conceptual metaphor theory's claim that metaphors operate at a conceptual, and not just linguistic, level, prior research shows that priming perceptions related to concrete concepts influences perceptions related to dissimilar, more abstract concepts in metaphor-consistent ways. However, the theory's claim that metaphors function to...
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Social cognition is the scientific study of the cognitive events underlying social thought and attitudes. Currently, the field's prevailing theoretical perspectives are the traditional schema view and embodied cognition theories. Despite important differences, these perspectives share the seemingly uncontroversial notion that people interpret and e...

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