Shannon C. Houck

Lecturer, Psychology


M.A. & Ph.D., University of Montana, Experimental Psychology 
B.A., University of Montana, Psychology

Research and Teaching Interests

My primary research interests revolve around two areas within social psychology: (1) moral decision-making and (2) cognitive complexity.  I am particularly interested in how people make decisions about controversial moral issues such as torture use/efficacy, and what factors influence the way people formulate those decisions.  I am also interested in the causes and consequences of complex thinking as they relate to the dynamics of peace and conflict, election outcomes, political ideology, and social/political issues more broadly. 

As an instructor, my fundamental goals are to help students to understand and interact with psychological concepts, theories, and research, and to foster independent and critical thinking.  I am committed to creating a rich learning experience for my students where they not only gain knowledge from exposure to lecture material and textbook studying, but also through action: engaging with psychological research and theory, applying knowledge to real-world problems, and collaborating with others on research projects. 

Representative Publications

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G., III. (2013). What people think about torture: Torture is inherently bad…unless it can save someone I love.  Journal of Applied Security Research, 8, 429-454.

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G., III, Gornick, L.J., & Cvasa, G.P. (2013). Terrorism.  In Ken Keith (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Cross-Cultural Psychology (pp. 1280-1283). Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley- Blackwell.

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G. III, & Repke, M.A., (2014).  Personal closeness and perceived torture efficacy: If torture will save someone I’m close to, then it must work.  Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 20, 590-592.

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G., III, Gornick, L.J. (2014).  Automated integrative complexity: Current challenges and future directions.  Political Psychology, 35, 647-659.

Houck, S.C., & Conway, L.G. III (2015).  Ethically investigating torture efficacy: A new methodology to test the influence of pain on decision-making processes in experimental interrogation scenarios.  Journal of Applied Security Research, 10(4), 510-524.

Conway, L.G., III, Houck, S.C., Gornick, L.J., & Repke, M.A. (in press).  Ideologically-motivated perceptions of complexity: Believing those who agree with you are more complex than they are.  Journal of Language and Social Psychology, XX, XX-XX.