Nick D’Angelo Ungson, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
Teel Hall, Room 107
B.S., Psychology, University of Florida
B.A., Religion, University of Florida
M.A., Psychology, New York University
Ph.D., Social Psychology, Lehigh University
Dr. Nick D. Ungson is a social psychologist broadly interested in group processes; in other words, how does strongly identifying with one’s social group (e.g., Albright College, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) change the way that people think, feel, and act towards ingroup and outgroup members? As part of these research interests, he investigates the dynamics of conflict, cooperation, and competition between and within social groups. More recently, he has also examined the role of humor within these processes—for example, does exposure to certain kinds of humor affect how people decide to engage in collectively-oriented dissent? Is humorous criticism of an ingroup perceived as less threatening than serious criticism? Dr. Ungson also researches the dynamics of moral judgments such as blame. He is interested, for example, in how group membership moderates the extent to which personal information about a moral transgressor may affect blame, compassion, and/or punishment.
Dr. Ungson is a big fan of playing and watching soccer, especially Chelsea Football Club. He also enjoys stand-up and improv comedy, as well as table tennis and eating Pringles.
Areas of Research
Conformity and Dissent
Social groups are very effective at enforcing conformity and punishing dissent. This makes it difficult for individual group members to “speak up” and challenge problematic norms, even if doing so would help the group. Dr. Ungson studies the factors that promote—and inhibit—willingness to engage in dissent. More recently, he has studied the effect of humor as a potential “instigator” of dissent among Americans vis-à-vis racial inequality in America.
Blame and Punishment
People have an impulse to respond in spiteful, vengeful, and potentially inhumane ways when exposed to a moral transgressor (e.g., an office bully). However, exposing them to the transgressor’s “historicist narrative”—that is, a storied account of how they became the kind of person they became—the inclination to blame spitefully can be reduced. Dr. Ungson examines how these narratives engender uncertainty when people are assigning blame to transgressors.
Diversity and Leadership in Groups
In a recently-initiated line of research, Dr. Ungson is examining the group processes that facilitate or inhibit leadership opportunities for non-normative group members (e.g., race, gender, or sexual orientation). Specifically, the degree to which groups such as corporations emphasize coordination around shared norms (this is how we do things here) rather than shared goals (this is what we need to accomplish) makes it more difficult for non-normative individuals to exert influence and attain leadership opportunities.
PSY 100: General Psychology
PSY 200: Research Design and Analysis I
PSY 201: Research Design and Analysis II
PSY 250: Theories of Personality
PSY 306: Special Topics in Psychology
Gill, M. J., & Ungson, N. D. (2018). How much blame does he truly deserve? Historicist narratives engender uncertainty about blameworthiness, facilitating motivated cognition in moral judgment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 77, 11-23.
Packer, D. J., Miners, C. T. H., & Ungson, N. D. (2018). Benefiting from diversity: How groups’ coordinating mechanisms affect leadership opportunities for marginalized individuals. Journal of Social Issues, 74(1), 56-74.
Ungson, N. D., & Packer, D. J. (2018). Dissent. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Packer, D. J., & Ungson, N. D. (2017). Group decision-making: Revisiting Janis’ groupthink studies. In J. R. Smith & S. A. Haslam (Eds.), Social psychology: Revisiting the classic studies (2nd ed., pp. 182-200). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Society for Personality and Social Psychology, member
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, member
International Society for Humor Studies, member
Awards and Grants
Grant-in-Aid Research Grant, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, 2017