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Jamie S. Hughes, Ph.D. - Fielding Graduate University. Santa Barbara, CA, US

Jamie S. Hughes, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Psychology, | Fielding Graduate University

Santa Barbara, CA, UNITED STATES

Enjoys teaching and mentoring students in the science of psychology



Jamie S. Hughes is a member of the doctoral faculty in Applied Psychology at Fielding Graduate University. She is a social psychologist with interests in moral psychology, attribution and person perception, stereotyping and prejudice, and teaching and learning pedagogy. She has over 10 years of experience teaching, supervising students, and conducting quantitative research.

Dr. Hughes' research has revealed how attributions about authority figures such as police, teachers, and governments shape beliefs, attitudes, and behavior. Further, her work on inferences about juvenile and adult offenders has helped elucidate biased attitudes toward incarcerated people. She also studies moral beliefs as they apply to attributions about relationship partners and decision-making in courtroom settings.

Dr. Hughes is an advocate for scientific transparency and open science. She has worked closely with LGBTQIA groups to increase community and campus belongingness, has advocated for criminal justice reform, and is interested in issues related to intersectionality, power, and privilege.

Industry Expertise (2)

Training and Development


Areas of Expertise (11)

Moral Psychology

Gender and Sexuality

Social Justice

Criminal Justice Reform



Quantitative Methods

Quantitative Research

Team Based Learning

Teaching Innovations

Grant Writing

Accomplishments (3)

President’s Research Award (professional)

(2019) Awarded by the University of Texas Permian Basin

Outstanding Teaching Award (professional)

(2017) Awarded by University of Texas System Regent

La Mancha Society Golden Windmill Award (professional)

(2015) University of Texas Permian Basin

Education (3)

New Mexico State University: PhD, Social Psychology 2010

Illinois State University: MS, Quantitative Psychology 2006

Michigan State University: BS, Psychology 2002

Affiliations (4)

  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  • Society for the Teaching of Psychology
  • Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science

Articles (9)

Beliefs about an Offender’s Capacity to Be Rehabilitated: Black Offenders Are Seen as More Capable of Change

Basic and Applied Social Psychology

(2021) One goal of incarceration is offender rehabilitation. We examined whether characteristics of an offender affect beliefs about rehabilitation capacity. In three studies using large samples, we investigated inferences about criminal offenders who were described as juveniles or adults (15 or 30 years old). Participants read about or were shown a picture of a White or Black actor. They judged the offender’s maturation, intentionality, and long-term goals, and indicated their rehabilitation capacity. Black offenders, regardless of age, were seen as more capable of rehabilitation, seen as possessing less intentionality, and having more positive long-term goals than White offenders. Discussion focuses on potential explanations for the data including system justification and attitudinal influence.

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The Government Receives Moral License to Commit Transgressions When Compared to Other Entities

Basic and Applied Social Psychology

(2020) In this paper, we examine moral judgments about different entities including individuals, corporations, nonprofits, and governments following a transgression. Although there is some research examining inferences about groups, there is little work addressing attributions about institutional entities such as governments. Across six studies we found that moral character judgments are greater for governmental entities compared to other entities. This effect was driven by moral licensing and the values one shares with the government. The finding was not caused by intuitions about paternalism, the relative age of governments compared to other entities, and was also not explained by nationalism or system justification. Discussion centers on implications of the data for moral licensing theory and moral attribution.

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Psychology teachers should try team-based learning: Evidence, concerns, and recommendations.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology

(2019) Team-based learning (TBL; Michaelsen, Knight, & Fink, 2004; Sibley & Ostafichuk, 2014) is an innovative, small-group teaching paradigm. A burgeoning literature, particularly in health education, indicates TBL improves student learning and is positively received by students and instructors. However, there are few empirical studies directly testing the effectiveness of the core components of TBL (e.g., proper team formation, holding students accountable for completing preclass preparation, and appropriately constructed team activities). That said, these core components are supported by the larger psychological literature. This paper provides a novel review of this literature to make 2 arguments: (a) that psychology instructors should consider adopting TBL, especially in large-enrollment and skills-based classes; and (b) there are important gaps in the TBL literature that psychology teacher-scholars could help fill.

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In a moral dilemma, choose the one you love: Impartial actors are seen as less moral than partial ones

British Journal of Social Psychology

(2017) Although impartiality and concern for the greater good are lauded by utilitarian philosophies, it was predicted that when values conflict, those who acted impartially rather than partially would be viewed as less moral. Across four studies, using life-or-death scenarios and more mundane ones, support for the idea that relationship obligations are important in moral attribution was found. In Studies 1-3, participants rated an impartial actor as less morally good and his or her action as less moral compared to a partial actor. Experimental and correlational evidence showed the effect was driven by inferences about an actor's capacity for empathy and compassion. In Study 4, the relationship obligation hypothesis was refined. The data suggested that violations of relationship obligations are perceived as moral as long as strong alternative justifications sanction them. Discussion centres on the importance of relationships in understanding moral attributions.

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When Cooperation and Compromise Fail: Distrusting and Denigrating the Moral Character of Those Who Disagree: The Moral Character of Those Who Disagree

Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy

(2017) People tend to view adversaries with dissimilar opinions as irrational, biased, and negatively motivated. However, when adversaries show honest attempts to compromise evaluations should become more positive. Unfortunately, the evidence presented here does not support this idea. Across five studies using different attitudinal issues perceivers believed dissimilar attitude targets were negatively motivated, untrustworthy, and less moral compared to similar attitude targets. Further, moral character judgments mediated the relationship between attitude target and trust. Fortunately, the strong association between motives and morality provided an opportunity to intervene. Those explicitly told that an attitude target held positive rather than negative long-term motives evaluated those with dissimilar and similar attitudes positively. Discussion focuses on the importance of these findings for theory and public policy.

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Attributions About Morally Unreliable Characters: Relationship Closeness Affects Moral Judgments

Basic and Applied Social Psychology

(2016) Across 6 studies, relationship closeness strongly influenced moral attribution. First, we found that moral attributions were stronger when one interacted with an intimate compared to less intimate other. Second, we examined attributions about those who treat some people well and others badly. Moral character attributions were worse when an actor harmed an intimate relationship partner compared to a less close relationship partner. Further, the effect of relationship partner on moral attributions was influenced by perceivers’ beliefs about one’s true character. Perceivers were apt to believe that one’s true character is revealed when interacting with close others.

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The Influence of Psychosocial Immaturity, Age, and Mental State Beliefs on Culpability Judgments About Juvenile Offenders

Criminal Justice and Behavior

(2016) Juvenile offenders are treated harshly in that they receive adult-like punishment and are incarcerated when alternatives to incarceration are possible. Research on adolescent offenders suggests that they are less mature than their adult counterparts and that they suffer psychosocial setbacks as a result of incarceration. We examined the effect of psychosocial immaturity information on culpability judgments about juvenile offenders. In Study 1, we provided information about limitations in adolescents’ abilities to control their impulses, weigh risks and benefits, and consider the future consequences of their behavior. Compared with a control condition, those in the immaturity conditions attributed less responsibility to the offender. In Study 2, we manipulated both immaturity information and an actor’s mental state beliefs about the consequences of his action. We found that mental beliefs weighed more heavily in judgments about responsibility and guilt than information about immaturity. Discussion focuses on implications of this research for juvenile justice.

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Sentencing recommendations are insensitive to juvenile offender’s age and maturation

Cogent Social Sciences

(2016) Research on perceptions of juvenile criminals has long sought to understand what drives punishment of juvenile. While some researchers argue that age influences the punishment of juvenile offenders, others argue that more severe crimes receive harsher punishments. However, in much past research, information about the juvenile and the details surrounding the crime have been manipulated, yielding inconsistent results. In this study, we manipulated age, maturity, crime severity, and offender characteristics and measured blame, sentencing recommendations, and likelihood of a guilty verdict. We expected more severe crimes would garner harsher judgments. We also expected information about the juvenile’s reasons for acting would influence judgments. Results indicate that crime severity explained the largest amount of variance in sentencing. However, age and maturity influenced judgments about blame and guilt. This study helps clarify the effects of age and maturity on punishment-related judgments by demonstrating that crime severity, rather than age, influences punishment of juvenile offenders.

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Mind attributions about moral actors: Intentionality is greater given coherent cues

British Journal of Social Psychology

(2015) Attributions about intentionality and the capacity for agency were explored from coherence perspectives. Coherence perspectives suggest that social perceivers use information about an actor's motives, traits, and the outcomes of action to create meaningful explanations of action. According to the typecasting theory, intentionality and agency attributions should be related and predicted by one's role in a moral dyad. Across four studies, with different operational definitions of moral dyads and agency, we found evidence in favour of coherence perspectives. Social perceivers relied on mental states, character, and behavioural cues to make intentionality judgments. Further, intentionality attributions about behaviours were unrelated to inferences about agency. The discussion centres on the importance of coherent explanation in moral judgment.

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