Takuya Sawaoka is a doctoral candidate in Social Psychology. His research focuses on the tension between moral judgments of individuals and collectives. With Benoît Monin he examines, for example, how collectives are tainted by the moral failings of their leaders; how people over-emphasize individual villainy as explanations for social ills; and how observers judge individuals who participate in collective viral outrage. His other line of work, with Hazel Markus, investigates how LGBTQ individuals respond to collective psychological threats.
Dissertation: Imagining Keyser Söze: A Preference for Concentrated Attributions of Moral Responsibility
This project explores the idea that when observing negative moral outcomes, people make concentrated attributions of responsibility that blame singular immoral individuals, rather than diffuse attributions that hold multiple individuals accountable. Concentrated attributions of moral responsibility allow people to maintain the belief that most human beings are fundamentally good, with wrongdoing perpetrated by a select few villains.