• The Political Mind

    Certain personality traits, thinking styles, and motivations give rise to harmful political attitudes and behaviors, such as violence, extreme partisanship, and authoritarianism. My research leverages the tools and expertise of personality psychology, mathematical and statistical modeling, and clinical science to accurately assess and understand the psychological causes and correlates of these attitudes and behaviors. Delving into these topics has convinced me that few skills are more important for both social scientists and informed citizens than the ability to think critically, formulate useful questions, communicate clearly, and approach those we disagree with empathetically.


    I have authored 25 peer-reviewed scientific publications, including first-authored articles in leading psychology journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and my work has appeared in major media outlets such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Hill, the New Statesman, Morning Consult, and the New York Post. It has also been viewed and discussed by many hundreds of thousands of individuals on social media (e.g., the front page of Reddit, "viral" tweet threads, and so on).


    Throughout my career, I hope to continue to build an interdisciplinary program of research devoted to understanding the psychology of political acrimony and extremism.

  • Research


    Costello, T. H., Clark, C. J., & Tetlock, P. E. (in press). Shoring up the shaky psychological foundations of a micro-economic model of ideology: Adversarial collaboration solutions. Commentary on The market for belief systems: A formal model of ideological choice (T. Gries, V. Müller, J. T. Jost), Psychological Inquiry. [Preprint]  


    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M. (2022). Absolute certainty and political ideology: A systematic test of curvilinearity. Social Psychological and Personality Science. [e-copy] [Preprint]


    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M., Stevens, S.T., Waldman, I.W., Tasimi, A., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2021). Clarifying the structure and nature of left-wing authoritarianism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. [PDF] [Preprint] [OSF]


    Bowes, S.M., Costello, T.H., Lee, C., Davis, D.E., McElroy-Heltzel, S., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2021). Stepping outside the echo chamber: Is intellectual humility associated with reduced partisan bias? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 48, 150-164. [Preprint] [OSF]


    Bowes, S.M., Costello, T.H., Ma, W., Lilienfeld, S.O. (2020). Looking under the tinfoil hat: Clarifying the personological and psychopathological correlates of conspiracy beliefs. Journal of Personality, 89, 422-436. [PDF] [OSF] 


    Costello, T.H., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2020). Social and economic political ideology consistently operate as mutual suppressors: Implications for personality, social, and political psychology. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 1425-1436. [PDF] [OSF] 


    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M., Lilienfeld, S.O. (2020). “Escape from Freedom”: Authoritarianism-related traits, political ideology, personality, and belief in free will/determinism. Journal of Research in Personality, 86, 1-16. [PDF]


    Costello, T.H., Watts, A.L., Murphy, B.A., Lilienfeld, S.O. (2020). Extending the nomological network of interpersonal sexual objectification to psychopathic and allied traits. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 11, 237-248. [PDF]


    Costello, T.H., Smith, S.F., Bowes, S., Riley, S., Berns, G., Lilienfeld, S.O. (2019). Risky business: Psychopathy, framing effects, and financial outcomes. Journal of Research in Personality, 78, 125-132. [PDF]


    Murphy, B.A., Costello, T.H., Lilienfeld., S.O. (2018). Is empathic contagion helpful or harmful: Overlooked heterogeneity in the Empathy Index. Psychological Assessment, 30, 1703-1708. [PDF]


    Costello, T.H., Unterberger, A., Watts, A.L., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2018). Psychopathy and pride: Testing Lykken’s hypothesis regarding the implications of fearlessness for prosocial and antisocial behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 185. [HTML]


    Murphy, B.A., Costello, T.H., Watts, A.L., Berg, J.M., & Lilienfeld, S.O. (2018). Strengths and weaknesses of two empathy measures: A comparison of the measurement precision, construct validity, and incremental validity of two multidimensional indices. Assessment, 12, 1425-1436. [PDF] [OSF] 


    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M., Malka, A., Baldwin, M., Tasimi, A., Lilienfeld, S.O. Are conservatives more rigid than liberals? A meta-analytic test of the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis. [Preprint]


    Costello, T.H., Patrick, C.J. Development and initial validation of two brief measures of left-wing authoritarianism: A machine learning approach (R&R). Journal of Personality Assessment. [Preprint]


    Malka, A., Costello, T.H. Professed democracy support and openness to flagrant authoritarian actions in the American public (R&R). American Politics Research.


    Osborne, D., Costello, T.H., Duckitt, J., Sibley, C.G. The authoritarian renaissance (invited submission, under review). Nature Reviews.  


  • Media Coverage

    Protecting yourself from COVID isn't a sign of mental illness. Shayla Love. Vice. January 20th, 2022.


    Left-wing authoritarianism is real and needs to be taken seriously. Emma Young. British Psychological Society (Research Digest). October 1st, 2021.


    How the experts overlooked authoritarianism on the left. Sally Satel. The Atlantic. September 26th, 2021.


    Large study indicates left-wing authoritarianism exists and is a key predictor of psychological and behavioral outcomes. Eric Dolan. PsyPost. June 30th, 2021.


    U.S. conservatives are uniquely inclined toward right-wing authoritarianism compared to Western peers. Cameron Easley. Morning Consult. June 28th, 2021.


    A theory about conspiracy theories. Benedict Carey. New York Times. September 28th, 2020.


    Culture beat: Left-wing authoritarians are real. Post Editorial Board. New York Post. May 29th, 2020.


    Is there such a thing as a left-wing authoritarian? Andre Spicer. New Statesman. May 26th, 2020.


    New study finds authoritarian personality traits are associated with belief in determinism. Eric Dolan. PsyPost. May 18th, 2020.


    Opening minds. National Affairs. Kevin Lewis. May 15th, 2020.


    Researchers identify key personality correlates of interpersonal sexual objectification. James Ives. The Medical News. January 27th, 2020.


    How personality predicts seeing others as sex objects. MedicalXpress. January 27th, 2020.

  • Scale Construction, Data Viz, and Statistics

    I am currently available to help solve your statistical-, data visualization-, and scale construction-related problems. For more information, contact me at thcostello1@gmail.com.

    Areas of Statistical Speciality

    Latent variable models (e.g., SEM, ESEM, bifactor models)

    Item response theory

    Meta-analysis (e.g., multivariate, multi-level)

    Factor analysis (e.g., EFA, CFA)

    Multiple regression

    Software Proficiencies

    MPlus, R, Python, JASP, SPSS, ggplot2, Adobe Illustrator, Plotly, Qualtrics, Survey Monkey, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

  • Social feed