Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bargh, John


In this dissertation, I propose that people’s sensitivity to deviancy is a domain-general phenomenon—an aspect of the individual experience that manifests across distinct domains. Supporting this possibility, across a multi-faceted approach (cross-cultural, developmental, nonconscious processes), I document that people’s responses to deviancy—their evaluative and affective responses to distortions in regularities and patterns—overlap across highly divergent domains (e.g., nonsocial stimuli, social actions, physical characteristics, nonvisual stimuli, visual stimuli). Additionally, in line with this broad conceptualization of deviancy, I find that people’s domain-general responding towards deviancy is largely negative in affect, emerges at a young age, exists cross-culturally, and may even causally contribute to complex social phenomena, such as prejudice. Collectively, these findings highlight the potential of adopting a broad domain-general conceptual understanding of deviancy to gain new traction on fundamental questions asked in social and cognitive psychology.