Michael Sargent

Associate Professor of Psychology



Pettengill Hall, Room 373



The bulk of Sargent’s research examines the impact that social category information has on judgment and decision making.  So, for example, what impact does a criminal suspect’s race have on the ways in which law enforcement officers react to him or her? Sargent examines this broad set of issues with a twofold focus: First, he examines relatively automatic processes (e.g., processes that operate without the awareness of the person forming a judgment), especially when those processes play out in judgments and decisions made under time pressure, as when a law enforcement officer must quickly decide whether a given individual is armed or not.  Second, Sargent examines relatively deliberative processes that play out over time (e.g., when a judge applies prior case law to a specific case). In all of his work, he is interested in the extent to which individuals base their judgments and decisions on the factors that they say are relevant, and the extent to which they ignore factors that they say are irrelevant.

Summary of Interests

  • The impact of social category information on judgment and decisions
  • Automatic processes in social judgment
  • Deliberative processes in reasoning, judgment, and decision-making


  • B.A., Psychology, Hendrix College (Conway, AR) (1993)
  • M.A., Ph.D., Social Psychology, The Ohio State University (1999)

Courses Taught

  • FYS 308 Searching for the Good Life (a first-year seminar)
  • PSYC 261 Research Methodology
  • PY/SO 371 Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • PSYC 380 Social Cognition

Selected Publications

Sargent, M. J., Kahan, T. A., & Mitchell, C. J.  (2007)  The mere acceptance effect:  Can it influence responses on racial Implicit Association Tests?  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 787-793.

Sargent, M. J. (2004).  Less thought, more punishment:  Need for cognition predicts support for punitive responses to crime. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 1485-1493.

Sargent, M. J., & Bradfield, A. L.  (2004).  Race and information processing in criminal trials:  Does the defendant’s race affect how the facts are evaluated?  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 30, 995-1008.