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Benjamin Peterson, Ph.D.

Research Interests

My academic research focuses on the self in interpersonal and intergroup relations. This includes an interest in how defensive or 'fragile' self-systems (i.e., narcissistic goals and beliefs, unstable self-esteem) are involved in such phenomena as interpersonal aggression, violence, prejudice, and intergroup conflict through vulnerability to a variety of self-threats. Most of this work examines narcissism, entitlement, competitiveness, and other concerns with relative superiority. I am also interested in how such concerns transfer to group identities, and this has led to the development of a personal-functional model of group identity and interest in nationalism vs. patriotism, religious fundamentalism, and moral superiority.

On the policy side, my current focus is on various aspects of intimate partner violence and the dynamics of gang membership and violence. In both areas, the goal is to inform prevention efforts (i.e., discouraging youth from joining gangs, evaluating effective alternative programs). With both topics, I also hope to apply some of my academic research to these important issues. In general, I attempt to take an integrative approach (psychology, sociology, criminal justice) in studying crime/criminal behavior and applying these findings to justice policy in the State.

Last Updated: 6/12/23