Dr. Nathan T. Carter Joins MSU Psychology Faculty

October 24, 2022 - Anna Lionas

Close up of Dr. Nathan Carter smiling at camera.The Michigan State University psychology department welcomes Nathan T. Carter, Ph.D. as a new professor in the organizational psychology program. Dr. Carter hails from the state of Kentucky and has spent the past 10 years of his career working at the University of Georgia. Dr. Carter’s research focuses on personality and behavior in the workplace. 

“MSU’s organizational psychology program has always been an aspirational place for me,” said Dr. Carter. “I’m joining people who I’ve looked up to for a long time.” 

Dr. Carter received his undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology from Western Kentucky University. In 2011 he graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  


Using Modern Test Scoring Approaches 

Dr. Carter takes a statistical approach to his research, looking at things accepted as universal truths and applying modern statistical testing to them to see if they are still true. His main interest is in individual differences such as cognitive ability, attitudes, mood, and emotion, and how those constructs are measured. 

“Traditionally, we think that more conscientious people have higher task performance or that extroverts have better sales performance, but at some point, we should see a breakpoint if that is true,” said Dr. Carter. “The National Science Foundation has funded my work on showing that you can find a more accurate breakpoint if you use more modern personality test scoring approaches.” 

Dr. Carter explains that traditional testing methods were written and scored in a way that led to errors of measurement for people at the extremes. Those distortions at the extreme ends led to errors in identifying where the breakpoint is, or rather where a person’s conscientiousness or being an extrovert may start hindering their abilities rather than being an asset.  

“I like to keep up with what the quantitative psychology field is doing and then borrow their techniques for the personality projects that I focus on,” said Dr. Carter. “They are very statistically savvy approaches that are proving very reliable.” 

Statistics and People 

Dr. Carter’s work is heavily influenced by the people and relationships in his real life. A self-proclaimed fan of people, he appreciates the differences in personalities.  

“I think the things that make us different are exciting and interesting. It makes life worth living,” said Dr. Carter. “As an organizational psychologist, I serve a greater goal of making the workplace inviting for as many people as possible.” 

This year, Dr. Carter will be teaching Statistics, a topic very relevant to his research. He hopes to give the undergraduate students the tools to apply statistics to their own work.  

Dr. Carter is motivated by the academic environment and looks forward to mentoring students in his program. As an intellectually curious person, he loves the variety that working with students brings.  

 “I love the flexibility of academia,” said Dr. Carter. “You have to be very self-motivated, but I thrive in that setting.”