B.A., Pomona College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Kansas
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Social psychologist doing research on the relationship between prejudice and threat, and attitude similarity among friends.
My research focuses on the justification of prejudice and discrimination. Using experimental methods, my research tests the hypothesis that negative affect drives the cognitive and behavioral components of prejudice, including perception of threat, stereotypes, and behavioral responses. The goal of this research is to better understand how and when cognitive and behavioral components of prejudice develop—information that is critical to reducing prejudice and improving intergroup relations.
Another line of work I have uses experimental and field methods to investigate attitude and prejudice similarity among friends. My work investigates how (and how quickly) people are able to detect attitudinal similarity in others. I am finding that similarity has its influence on attraction very early (and probably only very early) in the stages of relationship development. My research also suggests that people use nonverbal cues to make inferences about the attitudes and behaviors of potential friends in the very first moments of social interaction.
I teach courses in introductory and social psychology, and I offer a seminar in prejudice and discrimination. In all my classes, I want students to gain an understanding of how empirical methods are used in the field of psychology to answer questions about human thought and behavior. In my introductory psychology class, I have students write two lab reports. Students generate original data by participating in brief in-class studies and writing up the results. Students in my prejudice and discrimination seminar write a research proposal and give a conference-style presentation of their research idea to the class. Another goal I have for my students is to recognize how psychological principles operate in everyday life. I try to take advantage of this natural source of student interest by emphasizing the many possible applications of psychological theory and research to social issues, public policy, and the human experience.
I am an active member of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the Association of Psychological Science, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. In addition to my work on prejudice, I am involved in a cross-cultural study of similarity in close relationships. The goal of this project is to investigate how culture (shared ideas about choice in personal relationships) and social ecology (the size and diversity of social choices) affect the social psychological process of similarity-attraction. We are collecting data from pairs of people who know each other in cities of varying size and diversity in the U.S., South Korea, and Ghana.