Dr Sophie Russell

Lecturer in Social Psychology

Qualifications: BA (Tampa), MSc (Kent), PhD (Kent)

Email:
Phone: Work: 01483 68 6862
Room no: 34 AD 02

Office hours

Tuesday 13:30-15:30

Further information

Biography

After completing my PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Kent I continued there as a Lecturer in Psychology.  I started my present role as Lecturer in Social Psychology at Surrey in January 2013.

Research Interests

My main research interests are in moral emotions, social cognition, prejudice, and culture. Previously, my research has focused on uncovering novel differences between anger and disgust, in moral and group contexts, focusing on the consequences of these emotions. Currently, my research projects involve applying these findings to understand political engagement, reactions to criminal behaviours, and prejudice interventions.

Publications

Journal articles

  • Chakroff A, Russell PS, Piazza J, Young L. (2016) 'From impure to harmful: Asymmetric expectations about immoral agents'. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, pp. 201-209.

    Abstract

    How does information about agents' past violations influence people's expectations about their future actions? We examined this question, with a focus on the contrast between past harmful and past impure actions. Participants' judgments reflected two independent influences: action consistency and expectation asymmetry. An expectation asymmetry was observed across seven studies, including two pilot studies and two supplemental studies: impure agents were judged as more likely to be harmful than harmful agents were judged likely to be impure. This expectation asymmetry is not due to an expectation that impure agents will be globally deviant, i.e., likely to commit all kinds of violations (Study 1), nor is it due to differences in the perceived wrongness or weirdness of harmful versus impure acts (Study 2). Study 3 demonstrated that this asymmetry is not attributable to the perceived harmfulness of impure actions; only impure agents, and not harmful agents, were expected to be more harmful than they were previously. These findings highlight an important asymmetry in the way people make predictions about future wrongdoing: immoral agents are expected to behave consistently, and are also expected to be harmful, regardless of their prior violation.

  • Russell PS, Piazza J. (2015) 'Consenting to counter-normative sexual acts: Differential effects of consent on anger and disgust as a function of transgressor or consenter'. Cognition and Emotion, 29 (4), pp. 634-653.

    Abstract

    © 2014, © 2014 Taylor & Francis.Anger and disgust may have distinct roles in sexual morality; here, we tested hypotheses regarding the distinct foci, appraisals, and motivations of anger and disgust within the context of sexual offenses. We conducted four experiments in which we manipulated whether mutual consent (Studies 1–3) or desire (Study 4) was present or absent within a counter-normative sexual act. We found that anger is focused on the injustice of non-consensual sexual acts, and the transgressor of the injustice (Studies 1 and 3). Furthermore, the sexual nature of the act was not critical for the elicitation of anger—as anger also responded to unjust acts of violence (Study 3). By contrast, we hypothesised and found that disgust is focused on whether or not a person voluntarily engaged in, desired or consented to a counter-normative sexual act (Studies 2–4). Appraisals of abnormality and degradation were the primary appraisals of disgust, and the sexual nature of the act was a critical elicitor of disgust (Study 3). A final study ruled out victimisation as the mechanism of the effect of consent on disgust and indicated that the consenter's sexual desire was the mechanism (Study 4). Our results reveal that anger and disgust have differential roles in consent-related sexual offenses due to the distinct appraisals and foci of these emotions.

  • Russell PS, Piazza J. (2014) 'Consenting to counter-normative sexual acts: differential effects of consent on anger and disgust as a function of transgressor or consenter.'. Cogn Emot, England: 29 (4), pp. 634-653.

    Abstract

    Anger and disgust may have distinct roles in sexual morality; here, we tested hypotheses regarding the distinct foci, appraisals, and motivations of anger and disgust within the context of sexual offenses. We conducted four experiments in which we manipulated whether mutual consent (Studies 1-3) or desire (Study 4) was present or absent within a counter-normative sexual act. We found that anger is focused on the injustice of non-consensual sexual acts, and the transgressor of the injustice (Studies 1 and 3). Furthermore, the sexual nature of the act was not critical for the elicitation of anger--as anger also responded to unjust acts of violence (Study 3). By contrast, we hypothesised and found that disgust is focused on whether or not a person voluntarily engaged in, desired or consented to a counter-normative sexual act (Studies 2-4). Appraisals of abnormality and degradation were the primary appraisals of disgust, and the sexual nature of the act was a critical elicitor of disgust (Study 3). A final study ruled out victimisation as the mechanism of the effect of consent on disgust and indicated that the consenter's sexual desire was the mechanism (Study 4). Our results reveal that anger and disgust have differential roles in consent-related sexual offenses due to the distinct appraisals and foci of these emotions.

  • Russell PS, Piazza J, Giner-Sorolla R. (2013) 'CAD Revisited: Effects of the Word Moral on the Moral Relevance of Disgust (and Other Emotions)'. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4 (1), pp. 62-68.

    Abstract

    The CAD model posits a mapping of contempt, anger, and disgust onto the moral codes of community, autonomy, and divinity, respectively. A recent study by Hutcherson and Gross posited moral disgust as the dominant other-condemning emotion across all three moral codes. However, the methodology used may have incidentally increased the relevance of disgust. In the current experiment, one condition repeated Hutcherson and Gross's procedure, while in another condition, the authors added the word moral to three other emotions. Consistent with CAD, anger had the highest intensity ratings in response to autonomy violations, whereas "grossed out" was the dominant response to divinity violations. Furthermore, the adjective "moral" increased the relevance of anger, contempt, and fear in irrelevant domains, which suggests that the adjective moral increases any emotion's moral relevance. © The Author(s) 2013.

  • Piazza J, Russell PS, Sousa P. (2013) 'Moral emotions and the envisaging of mitigating circumstances for wrongdoing'. Cognition and Emotion, 27 (4), pp. 707-722.

    Abstract

    Anger may be more responsive than disgust to mitigating circumstances in judgements of wrongdoing. We tested this hypothesis in two studies where we had participants envision circumstances that could serve to mitigate an otherwise wrongful act. In Study 1, participants provided moral judgements, and ratings of anger and disgust, to a number of transgressions involving either harm or bodily purity. They were then asked to imagine and report whether there might be any circumstances that would make it all right to perform the act. Across transgression type, and controlling for covariance between anger and disgust, levels of anger were found to negatively predict the envisioning of mitigating circumstances for wrongdoing, while disgust was unrelated. Study 2 replicated and extended these findings to less serious transgressions, using a continuous measure of mitigating circumstances, and demonstrated the impact of anger independent of deontological commitments. These findings highlight the differential relationship that anger and disgust have with the ability to envision mitigating factors. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

  • Russell PS, Giner-Sorolla R. (2013) 'Bodily Moral Disgust: What It Is, How It Is Different From Anger, and Why It Is an Unreasoned Emotion'. PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLETIN, 139 (2), pp. 328-351.
  • Russell PS, Giner-Sorolla R. (2011) 'Social Justifications for Moral Emotions: When Reasons for Disgust Are Less Elaborated Than for Anger'. Emotion, 11 (3), pp. 637-646.

    Abstract

    In the present research, we tested the unreasoning disgust hypothesis: moral disgust, in particular in response to a violation of a bodily norm, is less likely than moral anger to be justified with cognitively elaborated reasons. In Experiment 1, participants were asked to explain why they felt anger and disgust toward pedophiles. Participants were more likely to invoke elaborated reasons, versus merely evaluative responses, when explaining their anger, versus disgust. Experiment 2 used a between-participants design; participants explained why they felt either anger or disgust toward seven groups that either violated a sexual or nonsexual norm. Again, elaborated reasons were less prevalent when explaining their disgust versus anger and, in particular, when explaining disgust toward a group that violated a sexual norm. Experiment 3 further established that these findings are due to a lower accessibility of elaborated reasons for bodily disgust, rather than inhibition in using them when provided. From these findings, it can be concluded that communicating external reasons for moral disgust at bodily violations is made more difficult due to the unavailability of those reasons to people. © 2011 American Psychological Association.

  • Russell PS, Giner-Sorolla R. (2011) 'Moral Anger, but Not Moral Disgust, Responds to Intentionality'. EMOTION, 11 (2), pp. 233-240.
  • Russell PS, Giner-Sorolla R. (2011) 'Moral anger is more flexible than moral disgust'. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, pp. 360-364.

    Abstract

    The research examines whether anger rather than disgust is more likely to be responsible for changes in moral judgment, after individuals consider potential circumstances. Participants first read a scenario that described a moral violation (harm or fairness vs. purity) and then gave their initial moral judgment and emotions toward the act. They were then asked to list things that could change their opinion and were provided with an opportunity to fill out the measures again, re-evaluating the scenario with these changes in mind. It was found that ratings of disgust did not change after generating potential circumstances; however, anger changed in differential ways for the two violation types. It was also found that anger but not disgust predicted change in moral judgment. These findings suggest that moral anger is a more flexible emotion than moral disgust because anger is more likely to respond to changes in circumstances.

Book chapters

  • Russell PS. (2013) 'Anger, disgust and sexual crimes'. in Horvath M, Brown J (eds.) Rape Willan Article number 3

    Abstract

    Chapter. 3. Anger,. disgust. and. sexual. crimes. Roger GinerSorolla and Pascale S. Russell ... of tabloid newspapers that emotions such as anger, disgust or shock often arise when people disapprove of other people's sexual behaviours.

Teaching

PSY1019- Social Psychology with research methods 1 (module convenor and contributor)

PSY3093- Morality and Emotions (module convenor and contributor)

Departmental Duties

Undergraduate Exams Officer

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