About the Lab

Our research at the Laboratory of Intergroup Relations and the Social Mind incorporates insights from a range of disciplines—including psychology, sociomedical sciences, education, and legal scholarship—to develop a more robust understanding of how differences between social groups (e.g., with respect to, age, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, social class, power) affect human behavior. We employ laboratory and field experiments to examine how institutions, intergroup behaviors, cognition and neurobiological processes coordinate and shape the experience of “insiders” and “outsiders” in social groups. In general terms, we seek both to understand basic processes underlying significant social problems related to intergroup relations and to develop theory-driven, rigorously tested intervention strategies.

Research

Social identity threat: Examining the causes, effects, and potential ameliorative interventions with respect to social identity threat— i.e., the concern about being devalued based on one’s group identity in a given context. Advance understanding of identity threat through the application of neurobiological methods to examine the impact of psychological stress (i.e., a marker of social identity threat) on cognitive performance (e.g., academic performance) and health (e.g., cardiovascular disease).

Concealment and public-private selves: Determining whether concealment of one’s identity in public modulates identity threat, self-concept structure and depressive symptoms.

Intersectional invisibility: Determining the unique pathways through which multiple stigmatized identities versus a single stigmatized identity experience identity threat (i.e., intersectional invisibility).

Diversity policies and threat: Identifying moment-to-moment and long-term effects of societal signals about inclusion (e.g. diversity policies) on social identity threat and trust.

Difficult dialogues about historic injustice: Examining implicit motives of members of excluded groups that can significantly affect communication between minority and majority groups members in interactions in threatening social interactions (e.g., discussions about historic racial injustice).

Culture and moral personhood: Examining how cultural differences in moral personhood (“what matters most”) among Chinese groups modulate stigma towards mental illness.

Microbiology and racial health disparities: Exploring the relationship between a person’s social environment (with a focus on stigma) and microbial contributions (i.e., microbiomes) with respect to the onset of and time course of leg ulcers among sickle cell disease patients.

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