I'm a PhD student in experimental psychology at Oxford. I currently live in England, but I've also lived in Brussels, Boston, and Los Angeles. I'm originally from Seattle.
This is the part of my website where, traditionally, I would list all of my professional accomplishments, starting with the most impressive stuff and then filling out the space with awards and other accolades you've probably never heard of. Let's skip that. Instead, I'll just tell you what I've been up to and why it's important to me:
I believe that the highest calling of psychological research is to develop ideas that affect the way everyday people live their lives. And as long as insights from psychological research are locked up in specialist academic journals, there's no way for that to happen. So in my writing I try to take what I've learned as a psychologist and merge it with what I've learned as a human being.
I don't think of this as "science communication," but rather as "science interpretation." It's not enough just to say, "Here's the results of what the psychologists found." You have to go an extra, more speculative step and say, "This is what I think it means for real life." That's what I'm interested in. I've written previously for Nautilus, Scientific American, Psychology Today, and I also publish pieces on my blog. These are some of my favorite pieces.
It's all too easy to look at the people whose work we admire and only see the finished product. For someone whose at the early stage of his career, it can seem overwhelming to think about what it'd take to get from where I am to where they are. But, of course, these eminent figures weren't always at the top; they were once in my position, just starting off.
I host a podcast, called Cognitive Revolution, in which I interview leading scientists, thinkers, and writers about the early decisions they made and experiences they faced that defined their later success. Hearing these stories is both useful and encouraging to someone who, like me, is at the beginning stages of this trajectory. I also publish reading lists of the books that have most influenced my guests.
One of the biggest problems we face today in society is that we have a hard time making sense of people who are different from ourselves. If someone comes from a different background -- whether it's in terms of culture, race, politics, or religion -- it's much harder to make sense of the way they see things than someone with whom you have all this in common. My research is about how we make sense of people who are different from ourselves: when we do it well, when we fail, and how we can be better.
The basic thrust of my work on this (which is in its very early stages) is that understanding others doesn't take fancy mental gymnastics, being good at "putting yourself in their shoes," or a sophisticated algorithm for what psychologists call "theory of mind." Instead, it's a function of whether or not you're willing to put in the effort. Are you going to spend the time to seek out conversations with those people? To read their books? To give some thought to where they might be coming from? It's that willingness to engage that allows us to see things from another's perspective rather than any special capacity for empathic insight.
If you want to follow my work, you can sign up for my newsletter, Dear Luke. I send it out every week on Friday. It's the most personal writing I do. Each week, I write a letter (it's literally a letter; I write the first draft long-hand with a fountain pen) detailing a topic that I've been thinking about -- something that's affected me recently, and the strategies that I've found useful for address it. I also include links to any pieces I've published or new episodes of Cognitive Revolution. And let's face it: if you've read this far, then you might as well sign up. It'd really mean a lot to me, too, because those subscriber numbers help me convince publishers that I am in possession of what in the business is known as a "following."
You can also follow me on Twitter.