Professor Cohn is a social psychologist who studies legal socialization, or how people develop attitudes toward rule-violating behavior. Since 1981, she has completed research funded by the National Science Foundation Law and Social Sciences Foundation. In her lab, she looks at the effect of a self-governing residence hall on improving students’ legal reasoning and their approval of enforcing rules, while reducing their approval of rule-violating behavior and their engagement of rule-violating behavior.
She and other experts have also conducted a large cross-national study of the effects of democratization in former communist countries (Russia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria) versus democratized countries (France, Spain, U.S.) on their attitudes toward procedural and distributive justice, rule of law, and rights consciousness. In her most recent study, she conducted a longitudinal study of 6th graders and 9th graders (who are now ages 23 and 26) related to behavior and will be collecting more information over the next three years. Other research has included a panel study of students’ unwanted intimate partner experiences (sexual contact, sexual intercourse) in 1988, 2000, 2006, and 2012.
Professor Cohn's other interests include jury decision-making and the role of racial bias and police versus law experts. She is currently working on a study related to islamophobia.