My primary research, on the psychology of ordinary mental life, involves the analysis of aspects of everyday human experience that elude explanation and thus force us to think beyond customary categories of understanding. A developmental psychologist by training, I am especially interested in experiences that may be illuminated by comparisons of childhood and adulthood. Through a combination of theoretical analysis and empirical inquiry, projects work toward an account of what the experience is and why it comes about, that account, in turn, exposing strata of mental life that may have escaped previously.
Topics I have explored in this vein include why choosing is difficult for people when it is and the paradoxical surprise that an object is real, first noted by Freud, that people sometimes feel when they see an object they have felt sure existed but have never seen. I also write on Freud, whose theories provide a fascinating case study in how to think and argue about subjective experience in a systematic way; additionally, his oeuvre models the tactic that drives my research---of using convergent analyses of child and adult mentation to illuminate adult mental life. A videotaped interview regarding my work on Freud may be found HERE.
I am currently working on what it is to hope, an occupation remarkably elusive to definition. Hope is conceived in modern, secular thought as the cautious expectation something will occur one desires to occur. But a moment's thought reveals something more is involved: I may want it to rain and may exptect it to do so, given the weather forecast. But those stances don't entail that I hope it will rain. What more are we doing when we hope?