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Kathryn Johnson

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Associate Research Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1104

Kathyn Johnson is an associate research professor in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. She is interested in the social perception of non-human agents across different religious and cultural worldviews.  



  • Ph.D. Psychology, Arizona State University 2012
  • M.A. Religious Studies, Arizona State University 2005
  • B.S. Accountancy, Arizona State University 1980
Research Interests: 

Kathryn Johnson is interested in the social perception of non-human agents across different religious and cultural worldviews.  Drawing inspiration from her background in religious studies and social psychology, she has found that people in diverse religious and cultural groups often attribute human-like characteristics to particular non-living human, or non-human agents such as viruses and disease (e.g., cancer as an invading barbarian), living creatures (e.g., pets or totems), technological entities (e.g., androids, drones, self-driving cars), spiritual beings (e.g., God or angels), fetuses, stem cells, or human remains. Her research has primarily focused on the antecedents and outcomes of diverse representations of God as benevolent, authoritarian, or (more abstractly) as a cosmic force. Recently her interest in moral psychology has been extended to investigate the possibility of programming moral integrity in autonomous systems. She is also interested in helping students with divergent religious and cultural worldviews to develop metacognitive strategies to improve their academic achievement.

Research Activity: 
  • $216,717 John Templeton Foundation #60735; PI
    Fostering Cross-cultural and Multi-wave Psychological Research on Religiosity. (2017-2019). 

  • Johnson,Kathryn Ann*, Cohen,Adam, Enders,Craig Kyle, Okun,Morris A. Psychological Needs Individual Differences and Representations of God. TEMPLETON (JOHN) FDN(8/15/2014 - 8/14/2017).
  • Johnson,Kathryn Ann*, Cohen,Adam, Okun,Morris A. Does Knowledge of Science and World Religions Lead to Representations of God as Transcendent (ASUF 30006287). ASU FDN(8/15/2014 - 2/14/2017).