As a social psychologist, my primary program of research investigates the psychological, physiological, and interpersonal consequences that can arise when people are chronically exposed to the possibility of negative evaluation because of one or more of their important social identities. A central tenet of my research is that perceptions of such negative evaluation--sometimes called social identity threat--can undermine core psychological needs, like a need for control and a need to belong. When these needs are in danger of going unmet, it is difficult to maintain the foundation of safety and security critical for success and well-being. This helps explain the distrust, vigilance, and underperformance that are often associated with negatively stereotyped minority groups. It also suggests a mechanism for understanding intergroup disparities across a wide range of outcomes, including educational attainment, income, and health. If identity threat undermines psychological needs, social psychological interventions that address these needs may be an effective buffer, as my recent research suggests.
My research is situated at an emerging frontier in social psychology, in which psychological processes are seen to interact with other factors in a social system and unfold dynamically over time. Behavioral outcomes in this new paradigm are not limited to short-term effects, but to ongoing feedback cycles between individuals and their environment. For example, my research suggests the importance of intervention timing in protecting against self-reinforcing downward trajectories that often characterize psychological and behavioral outcomes in chronically threatening environments. In this respect, my work is inspired by classic psychologists like Kurt Lewin and Urie Bronfenbrenner who emphasized the influence of embedded systems, but I rely on advances in research methods and statistical analysis. As a result, my research is methodologically diverse and includes cognitive, physiological, and behavioral measures. I conduct longitudinal experiments in the laboratory and field and incorporate diary and experience sampling designs that capture people's everyday experiences over time. I am interested in quantitative methods and the application of advanced statistical modeling techniques to the complex data sets that emerge from these designs.
I am also interested in research that examines how people adapt to technology. I have published on the viablity of establishing a therapeutic relationship through the internet and how people adapt to online pay structures that limit access to information.
I am currently an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University