Michael Sargent

Associate Professor of Psychology



Pettengill Hall, Room 373



Professor Sargent is a social psychologist by training, but with interests in political psychology. Most of his research focus is on the ways that people’s collective identities relate to how they think about politics, especially their opinions toward policies. He’s especially interested in racial and ethnic identity as predictors of, and drivers of, policy stances. In his recent work, he has focused on the political relevance of racial identity to sports. For example, he’s recently been working on a paper about racial gaps in support for paying college athletes. In another paper (coauthored with Michael Murray of the Bates Department of Economics), he’s exploring aspects of White identity that might predict attitudes toward political protest by Black athletes.

He’s also interested in exploring the relevance of social psychology to policy and politics in other domains. For example, he’s published prior work that’s relevant to the criminal justice system (including one paper with his colleague, Professor Douglass).

In much of his work he is also interested in the ways that individual difference variables matter. Individuals vary in how much they enjoy tasks that require effortful thought (i.e., individuals vary in their need for cognition). Individuals vary in how much they oppose or support group-based inequality (which some researchers refer to as differences in social dominance orientation). And psychologists study many other individual differences. Sargent is interested in the political consequences and correlates of such individual variation.

Summary of Interests

  • Political psychology
  • Racism (at multiple levels of analysis)
  • Social cognition


  • 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 373 Racism: A Multilevel Approach
  • 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.