I study how expertise and credibility are recognized and how they relate to cultural authority in science, law, politics, and elsewhere. In several articles, I use national and international survey data to identify moral and political worldviews associated with science and religion and how these worldviews are shaped by social identities and national contexts. In another series of papers, I use survey vignettes and survey experiments to examine the socio-cultural bases of expertise and of experts' political and economic influence. In a third line of research, I use court records to examine the credibility of expert witnesses and how expert testimony enters the legal system and affects legal decision-making.

Select Publications

O’Brien, Timothy L., and Shiri Noy. 2018. “Cultural Authority in Comparative Context: A Multi-Level Analysis of Trust in Science and Religion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 57(3): 495-513.

O’Brien, Timothy L. 2018. “Gender, Expert Advice, and Judicial Gatekeeping in the United States.” Social Science Research 72: 134-145.

Gauchat, Gordon, Timothy L. O’Brien and Oriol Mirosa. 2017. “The Legitimacy of Environmental Scientists in the Public Sphere.” Climatic Change 143(3–4): 297–306.


Noy, Shiri, and Timothy L. O’Brien. 2016. “A Nation Divided: Science, Religion, and Public Opinion in the United States.” Socius 2: DOI: 10.1177/2378023116651876.

​O’Brien, Timothy L., and Shiri Noy. 2015. “Traditional, Modern, and Post-Secular Perspectives on Science and Religion in the United States.”

American Sociological Review 80(1): 92-115.

O’Brien, Timothy L. 2013. "Scientific Authority in Policy Contexts: Public Attitudes about Environmental Scientists, Medical Researchers, and Economists." Public Understanding of Science 22(7): 799-816.

O’Brien, Timothy L. 2012. “Change in Academic Co-Authorship, 1953-2003.” Science,Technology, and Human Values 37: 210-234.