Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

Phone: (413) 545-0264
Fax: (413) 545-0996

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
(faculty member at UMass since 1976)
University Distinguished Teaching Award

Ph.D., 1977, Northwestern University



Editor, Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory
(2010 - present))



U N I V E R S I T Y  OF  M A S S A C H U S E T T S  AT  A M H E R S T













My research focuses on MORALITY:

1)  How does a morality based in “shoulds” differ from a morality based in “should nots”

Morality involves two distinct types of self-regulation, reflected in the most basic motivational distinction—approach and avoidance.  We have distinguished between these two types of moral regulation, which we label “prescriptive” and “proscriptive” morality respectively.   The prescriptive (approach-based) system activates positive motivations (e.g., to help), whereas the proscriptive (avoidance-based) system inhibits negative motivations (e.g., to lie, steal, cheat).   Our research focuses on how these two differ.  For example, the proscriptive system is more mandatory and involves blame for immorality, whereas the prescriptive system is more discretionary and involves credit for morality.   We have also explored the negative outcomes associated with an imbalance in these systems, as in recent work focused on punitive parenting (which emphasizes proscriptive morality).

2)  What is the relationship between political ideology and morality

We have developed a 6-cell Model of Moral Motives that includes ways of being moral when considering only the self, our interactions with specific others, and the larger collective.  In studying these distinct ways of being moral, we have explored differences based on politics.  Liberals and conservatives differ on the group-based (collective) moralities, but not the intrapersonal interpersonal ways of being moral.  However, in contrast to the strong claims of Moral Foundation Theory (MFT), it is not the case that only conservatives have a group-based morality.  Instead, liberals and conservatives both have a binding, group-based morality—Social Order in the case of conservatives, and Social Justice in the case of liberals. MFT’s binding moral foundations are all aspects of a Social Order morality, and thus MFT does not include a binding morality that would be endorsed by liberals. 

3) How do fairness and social justice differ, and what are the implications of these differences?

Fairness and social justice are unique moral motives in our Model of Moral Motives, and we have been exploring the differences between the two.  Fairness is an interpersonal morality that is individuating and based in proportionality; that is, we need to know the attributes or inputs of specific others.  In contrast, social justice is group-based and deindividuating; here resources are distributed, or shared, based on common group membership.  We have found that endorsement of fairness and social justice are orthogonal—they are not correlated, and people can readily switch back and forth between the two principles.  Liberals and conservatives do not differ in their endorsement of fairness, but differ strongly in their endorsement of social justice, which is positively associated with liberalism. We are currently exploring differences in motivation and cognitive processing (e.g., construal level) underlying these two distributional principles.




Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma. NY: Free Press.


Selected Articles and Chapters


Carnes, N., Lickel, B., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2015). Shared perceptions: Morality is embedded in social contexts. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 351-362.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2015). "Getting it right" can also be wrong. In R. Sternberg & S. Fiske (Eds.), Ethical challenges in the behavioral and brain sciences. NY: Cambridge University Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Carnes, N., & Sheikh, S. (2014). Parenting and politics: Exploring early moral bases of political orientation. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 2, 43-60.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Carnes, N. C, (2014). Motivation and morality: Insights into political ideology (commentary). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37, 316-317.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Carnes, N. C. (2013). Surveying the moral landscape: Moral motives and group-based moralities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17, 219-236.


Janoff-Bulman, R. & Carnes, N. C. (2013). Moral context matters: A reply to Graham. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 17, 242-247.


Sheikh, S., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2013). Paradoxical consequences of prohibitions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 301-315.


Parker, M. T., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2013). Lessons from morality-based social identity: The power of outgroup "hate," not just ingroup "love." Social Justice Research, 26, 81-96.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2013). Elected leaders: Standing firm or standing with us [invited book review]. PsycCRITIQUES, 58, Article 2.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2013). Meaning and morality: A natural coupling. In K. D. Markman, T. Proulx, & M. J.Lindberg (Eds.), The psychology of meaning (pp. 191-213). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


Janoff-Bulman, R. & Parker, M. (2012). The moral bases of public distrust: Politics, partisanship, and compromise. In R. Kramer & T. Pittinsky (Eds.), Restoring trust: Challenges and prospects (pp. 7-23). NY: Oxford University Press.


Carnes, N. C., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2012). Harm, help, and the nature of (im)moral (in)action. Psychological Inquiry, 23, 137-142.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Sheikh, S. (2011). Unintended consequences of moral "over-regulation." Emotion Review, 3, 325-327.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2011). Conscience: The do's and don'ts of moral regulation. In M. Mikulciner & P. Shaver (Eds.), The social psychology of morality: Exploring the causes of good and evil (pp. 131-148). Washington DC: American psychological Association..


Usoof-Thowfeek, R., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Tavernini, J. (2011). Moral judgments and the role of social harm: Differences in automatic versus controlled processing. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 1-6.


Sheikh, S., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2010). Tracing the self-regulatory bases of moral emotions. Emotion Review, 2, 386-396.


Rock, M., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2010). Where do we draw our lines? Politics, rigidity, and the role of self-regulation. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1, 26-33.


Sheikh, S. & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2010). A self-regulatory perspective on shame and guilt. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 213-224.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Sheikh, S., & Hepp, S. (2009). Proscriptive versus prescriptive morality: Two faces of moral regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 521-537.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2009). To provide or protect: Motivational bases of political liberalism and conservatism. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 120-128.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2009). Poltiical attitudes and complexity: Responses from a motivational perspective. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 177-182.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Usoof-Thowfeek, R. (2009). Shifting moralities: Post 9/11 responses to shattered national assumptions. In M. Morgan (Ed.), The impact of 9-11: The day that changed everything? (vol. 5, pp. 81-96). NY: Palgrave Macmillan.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Sheikh, S., & Baldacci, K (2008). Mapping moral motives: Approach, avoidance, and political orientation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1091-1099.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Werther, A. (2008). The social psychology of respect: Implications for delegitimization and reconciliation. In A. Nadler, T. Malloy, & J. Fisher (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Intergroup Reconciliation, pp. 145-170. NY: Oxford University Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2008). Erroneous assumptions: Popular belief in the effectiveness of torture interrogation. Peace and Conflict, Special Issue: "Torture," 13, 429-436.


Lillie, C., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2007). Macro versus micro justice and perceived fairness of truth and reconcilaition commissions. Peace and Conflict, 13, 221-236.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Sheikh, S. (2006). From national trauma to moralizing nation. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Special Issue: In the Era of 9/11: Social Psychology and Security, 28, 325-332.


Berger, A. R., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2006). Costs and satisfaction in close relationships: the role of loss-gain framing.Personal Relationships, 13, 53-68.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2006). Schema-change perspectives on posttraumatic growth. In L. G. Calhoun & R. G. Tedeschi (Eds.), Handbook of Posttraumatic Growth: Research and Practice. Mahweh, NJ: Erlbaum.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Yopyk, D. (2004). Random outcomes and valued commitments: Existential dilemmas and the paradox of meaning. To be published in J. Greenberg, S. L. Koole, & T. Pyszczynski (Eds.), Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology. NY: Guilford.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2004). Posttraumatic growth: Three explanatory models. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 30-34.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Leggatt, H. (2002). Culture and social obligation: When "shoulds" are perceived as "wants." Journal of Research in Personality, 36, 260-270.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (2001). Being of two minds: Dual-process theories in social psychology. Contemporary Psychology, 46, 86-88.


Berg, M., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Cotter, J. (2001). Perceiving value in obligations and goals: Wanting to do what should be done. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 982-995.


Frantz, C. M., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2000). Considering both sides: The limits of perspective-taking. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 22, 31-42.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Berger, A. R. (2000). The other side of trauma: Towards a psychology of appreciation. In J. Harvey & E. D. Miller (Eds.), Loss and Trauma Handbook. NY: Bruner/Mazel.


Styron, T. H., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Davidson, L. (2000)."Please ask me how I am": Experiences of family homelessness in the context of single mothers' lives. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 9, 143-165.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1999). Rebuilding shattered assumptions after traumatic events: Coping processes and outcomes. In C.R. Snyder (Ed.), Coping: The Psychology of What Works.NY: Oxford University Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Berg, M. (1998). Disillusionment and the creation of value: From traumatic losses to existential gains. In J. Harvey (Ed.), Perspectives on Loss: A Sourcebook. Washington, DC: Taylor & Francis.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1998). From terror to appreciation: Confronting chance after extreme misfortune. Psychological Inquiry, 9, 99-101.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Frantz, C. M. (1997). The impact of trauma on meaning: From meaningless world to meaningful life. In M. Power & C. Brewin (Eds.), The Transformation of Meaning in Psychological Therapies: Integrating Theory and Practice. Sussex, England: Wiley & Sons.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1997). Understanding reactions to traumatic life events. The Harvard Mental Health Newsletter, vol. 14, No.4.


Styron, T., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1997). Childhood attachment and abuse: Long-term effects on adult attachment, depression, and conflict resolution. Child Abuse & Neglect:The International Journal, 21, 1015-1023.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Frantz, C. M. (1996). The loss of illusions: The potent legacy of trauma. Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss, 1, 133-150.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Wade, M. B. (1996). The dilemma of self-advocacy for women: Another case of blaming the victim? Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15, 143-153.


Coats, E., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Alpert, N. (1996). Approach versus avoidance goals: Differences in self-evaluation and well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 1057-1067.


Klein, I., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1996). Trauma history and personal narratives: Some clues to coping among survivors of child abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, 20, 45-54.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1996). The world assumptions scale. In B. H. Stamm (Ed.), Measurement of Stress, Trauma and Adaptation. Lutherville, MD: Sidran Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1995). Victims of violence. In G. S. Everly, Jr. & J. M. Lating (Eds.), Psychotraumatology: Key Papers and Core Concepts in Post-Traumatic Stress. NY: Plenum.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Morgan, H. J. (1994. Victims' responses to traumatic life events: An unjust or an uncaring world? Social Justice Research, 7, 47-68.


Morgan, H. J., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1994). Positive and negative self-complexity: Patterns of adjustment following traumatic versus non-traumatic life experiences. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13, 63-85.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1993). "Assuring a focus on people at the World Summit for Social Development." Written on behalf of SPSSI for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, distributed in accordance with Economic and Social Council Resolution 1296.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1993). The faces of injustice. Social Justice Research, 6, 235-239.


Carnelley, K. B., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Optimism and love relationships: General vs. specific lessons from one's personal experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 9, 5-20.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Happystance. A review of Subjective Well-Being: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Contemporary Psychology, 37,162-163.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Schwartzberg, S. S. (1991). Toward a general model of personal change: Applications to victimization and psychotherapy. In C. R. Snyder & D. R. Forsyth (Eds.), Handbook of Social and Clinical Psychology: The Health Perspective. NY: Pergamon.


Schwartzberg, S. S., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1991). Grief and the search for meaning: Exploring the assumptive worlds of bereaved college students. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 10, 270-288.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1991). Understanding people in terms of their assumptive worlds. In D. J. Ozer, J. M. Healy, & A. J. Stewart (Eds.), Perspectives on Personality: Personality and the Self. London: Jessica Kingsley.


Franklin K. M., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Roberts, J. E. (1990). Long-term impact of parental divorce on trust and optimism: Changes in general assumptions or narrow beliefs? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 743-755.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Thomas, C. (1989). Towards an understanding of self-defeating responses following victimization. In R. Curtis (Ed.), Self-Defeating Behaviors: Experimental Research, Clinical Impressions, and Practical Implications. NY: Plenum.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1989). Assumptive worlds and the stress of traumatic events: Applications of the schema construct. Social Cognition, Special Issue: Social Cognition and Stress, 7, 113-136.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1989). The benefits of illusions, the threat of disillusionment and the limits of inaccuracy. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 8, 158-176.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Lang-Gunn, L. (1988). Coping with diseases and accidents: The role of self-blame attributions. In L. Y. Abramson (Ed.), Social Cognition and Clinical Psychology. NY: Guilford.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Hecker, B. (1988). Depression, vulnerability, and world assumptions. In L. B. Alloy (Ed.), Cognitive Processes in Depression. NY: Guilford.


Padawer, J., Fagan, C., Janoff-Bulman, R., Strickland, B., & Chorowski, M. (1988). Women's psychological adjustment following emergency cesarean versus vaginal delivery. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 12, 25-34.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1988). Victims of violence. In S. Fisher & J. Reason (Eds.), Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.


Brickman, P., Janoff-Bulman, R., & Rabinowitz, V. C. (1987). Meaning and value. In P. Brickman and Associates (Eds.), Commitment, Conflict, and Caring. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Timko, C. (1987). Coping with traumatic life events: The role of denial in light of people's assumptive worlds. In C. R. Snyder & C. Ford (Eds.), Coping with Negative Life Events: Clinical and Social Psychological Perspectives. NY: Plenum.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Frieze, I. H. (1987). The role of gender in reactions to criminal victimization. In R. Barnett, L. Biener, & G. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and Stress. NY: Free Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Timko, C. (1985). Working with victims: Changes in the researcher's assumptive world. In A. Baum, J. E. Singer, and S. Valins (Eds.), Advances in Environmental Psychology (Vol. 5). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Timko, C., & Carli, L. (1985). Cognitive biases in blaming the victim. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, 161-177.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1985). The aftermath of victimization: Rebuilding shattered assumptions. Trauma and Its Wake:The Sudy and Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. NY: Brunner/Mazel.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1985). Criminal vs. non-criminal victimization: Victims' reactions. Victimology: An International Journal, 10, 498-511.


Timko, C., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1985). Attributions, vulnerability, and psychological adjustment: The case of breast cancer. Health Psychology, 4, 521-544.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Madden, M., & Timko, C. (1983). Victims' reactions to aid: The role of perceived vulnerability. In A. Nadler, J. D. Fisher, & B. M. DePaulo (Eds.), Applied Perspectives on Help-Seeking and Receiving. NY: Academic Press.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Frieze, I. H. (Eds.) (1983). Journal of Social Issues: Reactions to victimization. NY: Plenum.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Frieze, I. H. (1983). A theoretical perspective for understanding reactions to victimization. Journal of Social Issues, 39, 1-17.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Brickman, P. (1982). Expectations and what people learn from failure. In N. Feather (Ed.), Expectations and Actions: Expectancy-Value Models in Psychology.Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1982). Esteem and control bases of blame: Adaptive strategies for victims versus observers. Journal of Personality, 50, 180-191.


Janoff-Bulman, R., & Marshall, G. (1982). Mortality, well-being, and control in a population of institutionalized elderly. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 8, 691-698.


Madden, M., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1981). Blame, control, and marital satisfaction: Wives' attributions for conflict in marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 43, 663-674.


Wortman, C. B., Silver, R. L., Holland, A. E., Abbey, A., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1980).Transitions from the laboratory to the field: Problems and progress. In L. Bickman (Ed.), Applied Social Psychology Annual. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.


Janoff-Bulman, R. (1979). Characterological versus behavioral self-blame: Inquiries into depression and rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1798-1809.


Janoff-Bulman, R., Lang, L., & Johnston, D. (1979). Participant-observer differences in attributions for an ambiguous victimization. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 5, 335-339.


Strickland, B., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1979). Expectancies and attributions: Implications for community mental health. In M. Gibbs, J. R., Lachenmeyer, & J. Sigal (Eds.), Community Psychology: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches. NY: Gardner Press.


Brickman, P., & (Janoff-) Bulman, R. (1977). Pleasure and pain in social comparison. In R. L. Miller and J. M. Suls (Eds.), Social Comparison Processes: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.


Brickman, P., Coates, D., & Janoff-Bulman, R. (1978). Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36,917-927.


(Janoff-) Bulman, R., & Wortman, C. B. (1977). Attributions of blame and coping in the "real world": Severe accident victims react to their lot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 35, 351-363.

UMass Department of Psychology
UMass Personality and Social Psychology Division
Undergraduate Studies