Todd Williams

Todd Williams

Associate Professor
B.A., University of Alberta, Canada
Ph.D. (2009), University of Alberta, Canada
Office: 1307 Au Sable Hall
Phone: (616) 331-8976

Office Hours - no office hours Sp/Su 2017


Experimental Social Psychology

Courses Taught

PSY 101 - Introductory Psychology
PSY 300 - Research Methods in Psychology
PSY 400 - Advanced Research in Psychology

Current Research Interests

My research interests are focused on examining the diverse existential issues of the human condition. I am fascinated by how we, as social animals, construct a shared system of meaning while maintaining a private sense of self. Although I do not deny the utility of micro-level theory in psychological research, I feel that there is much to be gained through the use of a more holistic approach to understanding psychological phenomenon. Terror management theory (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991) has provided me with a broad and integrative framework from which to explore my primary research interests. My interests encompass three topic areas: 1) the interplay between epistemic needs and terror management processes; 2) the advancement of a multifaceted conceptualization of self-esteem; and 3) the theoretical and applied consequences of extrinsic contingency focus.

Current Research Projects

  • Examining how existential anxiety impacts our ability to process novel information and  our desire to seek/avoid novelty in a consumer context
  • Assessing the impact of idealized body images in advertising media on eating, exercise, and shopping behavior
  • Exploring the role of extrinsic contingency focus in social behavior

Representative Publications

Williams, T. J., Schimel, J., Hayes, J. & Usta, M., (2013). Following and resisting body image ideals in advertising: The moderating role of extrinsic contingency focus. Self and Identity, DOI: 10.1080/15298868.2013.836133
Galen, L., Williams, T. J. & Ver Wey, A. (2013). Personality ratings are influenced by religious stereotype and group identity bias. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 24, DOI:10.1080/10508619.2013.837658
Williams, T. J., Schimel, J., Hayes, J. & Faucher, E. (2012). The effects of existential threat on reading comprehension of worldview affirming and disconfirming information. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 602-616.

Williams, T. J., Schimel, J., Hayes, J. & Martens, A. (2010). The moderating role of extrinsic contingency focus on reactions to threat. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 300-320. 

Hayes, J., Schimel, J., & Williams, T. J. (2008). Fighting death with death: The buffering effects of learning that worldview violators have died.  Psychological Science. 19, 501–507.

Hayes, J., Schimel, J., Faucher, E. H., & Williams, T. J. (2008). Evidence for the death thought accessibility hypothesis II: Threatening self-esteem increases the accessibility of death thoughts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 600-613.

Strachan, E., Schimel, J., Arndt, J., Williams, T. Solomon, S., Pyszczynski, T., & Greenberg, J., (2007). Terror Mismanagement: Mortality salience exacerbates phobic and compulsive behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1137-1151.

Schimel, J.,  Hayes, J., Williams, T. J. & Jahrig, J. (2007). Is death really the worm at the core? Converging evidence that worldview threat increases death-thought accessibility. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 789-803.

Schimel, J., Wohl, M. J. A. & Williams, T. J. (2006). Terror management and trait empathy: Evidence that mortality salience promotes reactions of forgiveness among people with empathic (vs. non-empathic) worldviews. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 217-227.

Page last modified May 3, 2017