Morning Fog




Shannon C. Houck, PhD

Assistant Professor

Defense Analysis

Naval Postgraduate School






Shannon Houck is an Assistant Professor in the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Prior to joining NPS, she was a faculty member at Syracuse University from 2016-2020.

Dr. Houck earned a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Montana in 2015. She is the author of 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and her research has been featured on popular news outlets such as the New York Times, Psychology Today, and USA Today.


What do I study?

How can social psychology increase our understanding of influence in the modern information environment? What are the causes and consequences of cognitive rigidity versus flexibility as they relate to polarization, extremism, and violence? What cues in language help predict these outcomes?

At the broadest level, my research falls at the intersection of social and political psychology and focuses on applying psychological science to security issues. I study the social psychological underpinnings of influence, extremism, the connections between complex (versus simple) cognition, communication, and behavior.


Selected Publications


Dyson, W., Martin, K., & Houck, S.C., (2022). Give Purpose First: Using Self-determination Theory as a Tool for SOF Retention. Small Wars Journal.

Houck, S.C., Branagan, B., Gramm, J., & Crisafulli, J. (2021). Changing Hearts and Brains: SOF Must Prepare Now for Neurowarfare. Small Wars Journal.

Sargent, R., Houck, S.C., & Conway, L.G. III (2021). How to Stop Political Division from Eroding Military-Academic Relations. Defense One

Lyon, R., Branagan, B., Gramm, J., & Houck S.C. (in press). Implications of Neurological Directed-Energy Weapons for Military Medicine. Journal of Special Operations Medicine.


Houck, S.C., Salvati, J.M., Newman, L.S., Vrij, A. (2021). Simulating interrogation in the lab: Examining the effectiveness of pain, coercive verbal pressure, and rapport-building for obtaining reliable information. Journal of Applied Security Research. 

Houck, S.C., Huber, K.J., Ess, M., & Proulx, M.L. (2020). Cognitive Complexity in Political Contexts. In Oxford Encyclopedia of Political Decision Making. Oxford University Press. 

Houck, S.C., McFarland, J., Machia, L.V., & Conway, L.G. III. (2019). When beliefs lead to (im)moral action: How believing in torture’s effectiveness shapes the endorsement of its use.  Political Psychology, 40: 1315-1339. 

Conway, L.G, III, Houck, S.C., Gornick, L.J., & Repke, M.A. (2018). Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States. Political Psychology, 39(5), 1049–67.

Houck, S.C., Repke, M.A., & Conway, L.G. III (2017). Understanding what makes terrorist groups’ propaganda effective: An integrative complexity analysis of ISIL and Al Qaeda. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 12(2), 105-118.

For all publications, see my CV
Teaching Awards

Teaching Experience


Teaching Awards



  • 2017 - Teacher/Scholar Travel Award.  Society of Personality and Social Psychology.


  • 2019 - Meredith Professorship Teaching Recognition Award.  Syracuse University.


  • 2015 - Psychology Department Teaching Award.  University of Montana.  

  • 2013 - Introduction to Psychology TA Teaching Award.  University of Montana.

Teaching Experience

Naval Postgraduate School

  • The Psychology of Influence and Operations in the Information Environment (DA 4107) 

  • Research Design in Defense Analysis (DA 4460) 

Syracuse University

  • Foundations of Human Behavior (PSY 205)

  • Foundations of Human Behavior (PSY 205) Online

  • Teaching of Psychology (PSY 605)

  • Research in Social/Personality Psychology (PSY 494)

  • Honors Capstone (PSY 499)

  • Teaching Introductory Psychology (PSY 600/IDE 880)

University of Montana
  • Social Psychology (PSY 360) 

  • Psychological Statistics (PSY 222) 

  • Research Methods I (PSY 120)

  • Personalized Student Instruction (PSY 377) 

  • Introduction to Psychology (PSY 100)