Stephen Vaisey


The main goal of my research is to understand moral and political beliefs: what they are, where they come from, and what they do. I lead the Measuring Morality project, the goal of which is to understand how different ideas of morality fit together and influence politics and other domains of life.

I also work quite a bit on statistical methods for observational data, including panel datatreatment effects analysis, and multilevel modeling

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2008

Selected Grants

The Spread and Impact of Moral Messages: Machine Learning, Network Evolution, and Behavioral Prediction awarded by University of Southern California (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2018

"The Social Context and Consequences of Transformative Experience" awarded by University of Notre Dame (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2017

Handbook of the Sociology of Morality. Ed. S Hitlin and S Vaisey. Springer, 2010.

Vaisey, S. "Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life." Contemporary Sociology: a Journal of Reviews 41.5 (September 2012): 671-672. Full Text

Vaisey, S. "The Righteous Mind." Archives Europeennes De Sociologie 53.3 (January 1, 2012): 448-451. Full Text

Vaisey, S. "The Theory of Cultural and Social Selection by W.G. Runciman." AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY 116.4 (January 2011): 1377-1380.

Vaisey, S. "Fuzzy Set Theory: Applications in the Social Sciences by Michael Smithson and Jay Verkuilen." SOCIOLOGICAL METHODS & RESEARCH 37.3 (February 2009): 455-457. Full Text

Shanahan, MJ, Vaisey, S, Erickson, LD, and Smolen, A. "Environmental Contingencies and Genetic Predispositions: Social Capital, Educational Continuation, and a Dopamine Receptor Polymorphism." American Journal of Sociology 114 (2008): S260-S286.

Vaisey, S. "Emerging Moral Vocabularies: The Creation and Establishment of New Forms of Moral and Ethical Meanings." Contemporary Sociology: a Journal of Reviews 36.3 (May 2007): 259-260. Full Text

Boutyline, A, and Vaisey, S. "Belief network analysis: A relational approach to understanding the structure of attitudes." American Journal of Sociology 122.5 (March 1, 2017): 1371-1447. Full Text

Vaisey, S, and Miles, A. "What You Can—and Can’t—Do With Three-Wave Panel Data." Sociological Methods and Research 46.1 (January 1, 2017): 44-67. Full Text

Dehghani, M, Johnson, K, Hoover, J, Sagi, E, Garten, J, Parmar, NJ, Vaisey, S, Iliev, R, and Graham, J. "Purity homophily in social networks." Journal of experimental psychology. General 145.3 (March 2016): 366-375. Full Text

Miles, A, and Vaisey, S. "Morality and politics: Comparing alternate theories." Social Science Research 53 (September 2015): 252-269. Full Text

Victor, EC, Miles, A, and Vaisey, S. "The Role of Moral Worldviews in Predicting Sexual Behavior From Adolescence to Emerging Adulthood." Journal of Adolescent Research 30.6 (January 1, 2015): 779-799. Full Text

Johnson, KM, Iyer, R, Wojcik, SP, Vaisey, S, Miles, A, Chu, V, and Graham, J. "Ideology-Specific Patterns of Moral Indifference Predict Intentions Not to Vote." Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 14.1 (December 2014): 61-77. Full Text

Edelmann, A, and Vaisey, S. "Cultural resources and cultural distinction in networks." Poetics 46 (October 1, 2014): 22-37. Full Text

Vaisey, S, and Miles, A. "Tools from moral psychology for measuring personal moral culture." Theory and Society 43.3 (April 24, 2014): 311-332. Full Text

Vaisey, S. "The "Attitudinal Fallacy" Is a Fallacy: Why We Need Many Methods to Study Culture." Sociological Methods and Research 43.2 (January 1, 2014): 227-231. (Review) Full Text