David Njus

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Professor of Psychology

Office: Valders 340G

Phone: 563-387-1633

Email: njusdavi@luther.edu

Biography

Education: Ph.D., Applied Social Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago; M.A. Applied Social Psychology, Loyola University Chicago; B.A., Psychology and English, Luther College

I am fortunate to be able to teach a variety of courses at Luther in areas that I love. These teaching responsibilities include courses in general psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, the psychology of religion, and statistics. As a psychology major graduate of Luther myself, I know how exciting and rewarding it can be to learn psychological theory and research across the spectrum of the discipline, and to be able to do so in a small-class, liberal-arts environment.

The goal I have for all of my classes is for students to leave with not only greater knowledge of psychological content, but to leave with a greater understanding of how to think like a psychologist‚ÄĒhow to go about asking questions the way psychological scientists ask them, and how to go about answering questions the way psychological scientists answer them.

PSYC 130: General Psychology
An introduction to the field of psychology intended for both majors and non-majors. Topics covered include social processes, personality, emotional disorders, development, thinking, testing, learning, motivation, perception, psychobiology, and animal behavior.

PSYC 240: Developmental Psychology
Developmental psychology is the branch of psychology that studies how people change as they age. This course focuses on the description, prediction, and explanation of physical, cognitive, and psychosocial aspects of age-related change, from conception to old age.

PSYC 248: Psychology of Religion
The psychology of religion is the empirical study of human behavior, cognition, and motivation as it relates to religious phenomena. Both classic and contemporary psychological approaches to religion will be discussed in this course, and research on topics such as religious development, morality, spirituality, and the relationship with God will be covered.

PSYC 350: Behavioral Statistics
A first course in statistics which introduces descriptive and inferential statistical tools as they apply to organization and analysis of data in the behavioral sciences.

PSYC 353: Social Psychology
Social psychology is the scientific study or how people think about, influence, and relate to one another. Some major topic areas include attitude formation and change, aggression, attraction, conformity, person perception and group processes. Lectures, discussions, and weekly laboratories will be held. Students will be involved in original research.

  • Ph.D., Applied Social Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, May 1997
  • M.A., Applied Social Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, May 1992
  • B.A., Psychology and English, Luther College, May 1990

I almost always involve Luther psychology majors/minors as research collaborators in my research projects (see list of articles and presentations below for current and former student research collaborators). My current research interests span several different areas.

Attachment

Adult attachment‚ÄĒits origins and its consequences‚ÄĒis a research interest of mine related to my teaching in both social and developmental psychology. I especially am interested in the evolved genesis of attachment relationships, and how different kinds of attachment relationships can be adaptive.

Psychology of Religion

My interest in the psychology of religion dovetails with my interest in adult attachment. Specifically, I am interested in the notion of God as an attachment figure. Recent research has suggested that for those who believe in God, God can serve as a ‚Äúsecure base‚ÄĚ to whom we turn in times of trouble or anxiety, much as we turn to human loved ones (children to parents, adults to friends or romantic partners) in times of stress. My current research in this area is exploring how attachment to God is similar to and different from more standard types of adult attachment.

Political Psychology

A third area of research in which I have an interest involves the ‚Äúmotivated‚ÄĚ nature of political belief and opinion. Most of us probably assume that the political beliefs we have stem from reasoned analysis and thoughtful reflection. Some research suggests, however, that in addition to rational contemplation there may be a motivated desire to arrive at certain kinds of answers to political questions.¬† Related to this, I have done research exploring the moral foundations that underlie both political and religious beliefs.

Selected Articles and Conference Presentations

(Collaborative Projects with Students: Bolded names are current or past Luther College student colleagues)

Njus, D., & Blain, G. (2021). Self-regulation, self-regulatory mode, and God attachment. Presented at the 2021 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., & Hornseth, A. (2021). Attachment to God predicts two types of self-control. Presented at the 2021 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., & Scharmer, L. (2020). Evidence that God attachment makes a unique contribution to psychological well-being. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. DOI: 10.1080/10508619.2020.1723296

Njus, D., &¬†Deihl, E.¬† (2020).¬†¬†Theists securely attached to God have higher levels of self-control and self-regulation than other theists‚ÄĒand higher than agnostics and atheists.¬† Association for Psychological Science 2020 Poster Showcase.

Diehl, E., Njus, D., & Abbott, N. (2019). God attachment predicts self-control and self-regulation.  Presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Diehl, E., & Njus, D. (2018). Moral foundations of 2016 presidential election voters.  Presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Njus, D., & Fawcett, B. (2017). God attachment predicts four aspects of psychological well-being. Presented at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.

Njus, D., & Okerstrom, K. (2016). Anxious and avoidant attachment to God predict moral foundations beyond adult attachment. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 44, 230-243.

Njus, D., & Scharmer, L. (2016, May). Attachment to God predicts psychological well-being. Presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Njus, D., Fawcett, B., & Hazlett, J. (2016, May). Moral foundations predict adult mating desire. Presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, IL.

Kochendorfer, L., & Njus, D. (2015, May). Mom and Dad’s influence: Daughter-guarding, attachment and mating preferences. Presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Scharmer, L., & Njus, D. (2015, May). Psychological well-being differences among atheists, agnostics, and fundamentalists. Presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Scharmer, L., & Njus, D. (2015, May). The similarity between religious fundamentalism and intrinsic religiosity. Presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Njus, D., & Okerstrom, K. (2014, May). Liberal-conservative differences on moral foundations and social/political values. Presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the  Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL. Katrina and me presenting at MPA in Chicago, 2014

Okerstrom, K., & Njus, D.M. (2014, May). Morality foundation differences among atheists, agnostics, and theists. Presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.

Tjossem, A. T., Njus, D.M., Kochendorfer, L., & Kampa, B. (2014, May). Moral foundations predict mating preferences in men and women. Presented at the 2014 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.Bailey, Logan, Katrina and me at Palmer House Hilton, MPA 2014

Njus, D., & Hodapp, R. (2013, May). Political orientation and beliefs about liberty, justice, and personal responsibility. Presented at the Spring 2013 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Tjossem, A., & Godar, H. (2013, May). Parental attachment, adult attachment, and desired number of sexual partners. Presented at the Spring 2013 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Godar, H., & Tjossem, A. (2012, May). Avoidant attachment mediates the relationship between parental attachment and short-term mating desire. Presented at the Spring 2012 annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science.

Njus, D., Hodapp, R. (2012, May). Political orientation, the correspondence bias, and attributuions of wrongdoing. Presented at the Spring 2012 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D.M., Okerstrom, K., & Stuart, K. (2012, May). Mortality salience, self-esteem, and attachment to adults and God. Presented at the Spring 2012 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological  Association.

Njus, D., Tjossem, A., McKee, B., & Godar, H. (2011, May) Adult attachment and mate-seeking preferences. Presented at the Spring 2011 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Bane, C.M., & Delikowski, L. (2010, May). Working model correspondence between adult attachment and attachment to God. Presented at the Spring 2010 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., & Bane, C. (2009). Religious identification as a moderator of evolved sexual strategies of men and women. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 546-557.

Njus, D.M., & Ironside, E. (2009). Political orientation and motivated social cognition. Presented at the Spring 2009 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., & Johnson, D. (2008). Need for cognition as a predictor of psychosocial identity development. The Journal of Psychology:  Interdisciplinary and Applied, 142, 645-655.

Njus, D., Bane, C.M., Meyer, B., & Betterman, C. (2007, May). Does religiosity moderate evolved sexual strategies of men and women? Presented at the Spring 2007 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Bane, C., Barnes, S., Bingner, J., Schmidt, T., & Wiedeman, R. (2006, May). Republicans, Democrats, and financial assistance for those in need. Presented at the Spring 2006 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Schmidt, T. M., & Njus, D.M. (2006, May). Sexism, sex-roles, and need for cognition. Presented at the Spring 2006 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Wagaman, J., Erspamer, N., Bane, C., & Njus, D. (2006, May). The relationship between behavioral regulation exercise motives and body image. Presented at the Spring 2006 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Bane, C.M., Neve, K., & Ingber, K. (2004, May). Religious identification as a moderator of evolved sexual strategies of men and women. Presented at the Spring 2004 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., and Johnson, D. (2003, May). Psychosocial identity development as a function of need for cognition. Presented at the Spring 2003 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D., Robinson, S., Veltri, C., & Mika, G. (2003, May). Political orientation and contributions to charity: The mediating role of need for cognition. Presented at the Spring 2003 annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association.

Njus, D. & Johnson, D. (2002, May) Need for cognition and psychosocial identity development. Presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, IL, May 1-4, 2002.

Njus, D., & Brockway, J. H. (1999). Perceptions of competence and locus of control for positive and negative outcomes: Predicting depression and adjustment to college. Personality and Individual Differences, 26, 531-548.

Njus, D., Nitschke, W., & Bryant, F. B. (1996). Positive affect, negative affect, and the moderating effect of writing on sIgA antibody levels. Psychology and Health, 12, pp. 135-148.