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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Shannon C. Houck

Houck portrait

Assistant Professor


402 Huntington Hall



M.A. & Ph.D., University of Montana, Experimental (Social) Psychology
B.A., University of Montana, Psychology

Research and Teaching Interests

My research lies at the confluence of politics and morality with a focus in the general areas of (a) attitudes and decision-making, (b) political communication, and (c) peace & conflict. Some specific interests within these areas include ideology, terrorism/counter-terrorism, and interrogation/torture. My research also examines the causes and consequences of communication as they relate to political attitudes and behavior, political influence, and violence. My research lab is comprised of outstanding undergraduate students in Psychology, Political Science, Forensic Science, Global Security Studies, as well as other fields of study.

As an instructor, my fundamental goals are to help students to think critically about concepts, theories, and research, and to cultivate a sense of excitement for psychological science. Whether the classroom setting is large or small, in-person or online, my courses center on active learning and inquiry through live demonstrations, discussion, and application to societal issues.

Representative Publications

Houck, S.C., McFarland, J., Machia, L.V., & Conway, L.G. III. (2019). When beliefs lead to (im)moral action: How believing in torture’s effectiveness shapes the endorsement of its use.  Political Psychology. doi:10.1111/pops.12590

Houck, S.C., & Conway & L.G. III. (2019). Strategic communication and the integrative complexity-ideology relationship: Meta-analytic findings reveal differences between public politicians and private citizens in their use of simple language. Political Psychology. doi:10.1111/pops.12583

Conway, L.G, III, Houck, S.C., Gornick, L.J., & Repke, M.A. (2018).  Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States. Political Psychology, 39(5), 1049–67.

Houck, S.C., Repke, M.A., & Conway, L.G. III (2017). Understanding what makes terrorist groups’ propaganda effective: An integrative complexity analysis of ISIL and Al Qaeda. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 12(2), 105-118.

Houck, S.C., & Repke, M.A. (2017). When and why we Torture: A review of psychology research. Translational Issues in Psychological Science, 3(3), 272-283.

Houck, S.C., & Conway, L.G. III (2015). Ethically investigating torture efficacy: A new methodology to test the influence of pain on decision-making processes in experimental interrogation scenarios. Journal of Applied Security Research, 10(4), 510-524.

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G. III, & Repke, M.A., (2014). Personal closeness and perceived torture efficacy: If torture will save someone I’m close to, then it must work. Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 20, 590-592.

Houck, S.C., Conway, L.G., III, & Gornick, L.J. (2014). Automated integrative complexity: Current challenges and future directions. Political Psychology, 35, 647-659.