• Investigating the Political Mind

    I'm Thomas Costello, a research psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at MIT. I study the nexus between personality and politics, and I've published research widely on topics spanning the psychology of authoritarianism, personality disorders, the cognitive causes and correlates of political ideology, psychopathy, intellectual humility and cognitive biases, financial decision-making, sexual objectification, beliefs in free will and determinism, conspiracy theories, machine learning for scale development, and more. My work has been the central focus of articles in The Atlantic, New York Times, New York Post, and New Statesman, and it has "gone viral" on social media--being read about and/or commented on by millions. I'm often interviewed on podcasts and quoted in the media. I received my Ph.D. in Psychology from Emory University in 2022. On this site, you'll find more information about me. Thanks for visiting!




    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M., Malka, A., Baldwin, M., Tasimi, A. (in press). Revisiting the rigidity-of-the-right hypothesis: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. [Preprint]


    Costello, T.H., Bowes, S.M. (2022, August). Popper was right about the link between certainty and extremism. Psyche. [Article]


    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]


    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]


    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]

  • 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.

  • Consulting: Cognitive Science, Statistics, and Data Visualization

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

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