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Shannon C. Houck, Ph.D.

Shannon C. Houck, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Teaching

402 Huntington Hall


M.A. & Ph.D., University of Montana, Experimental Psychology (Social 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 and why people make decisions about controversial moral issues such as torture use/efficacy.  Most recently I have focused on decision-making in simulated interrogation situations, examining tactics that lead to true vs. false confessions.  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 and textbook material, but also through discussion, engaging with psychological research and theory, and applying knowledge to real-world problems.

Representative Publications

Houck, S.C., & Repke, M.A. (2017). When and why we Torture: A review of psychology research. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, XX, XX-XX.

Houck, S.C., Repke, M.A., & Conway, L.G. III (2017). Understanding what makes terrorist groups’ propaganda effective: An integrative complexity analysis of ISIL and Al Qaeda. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, XX, XX-XX.

Conway, L.G., III, Houck, S.C., Gornick, L.J., & Repke, M.A. (2016). Ideologically-motivated perceptions of complexity: Believing those who agree with you are more complex than they are. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 35, 708-718.

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.

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. (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.