Our lab is currently focused on three questions:
- Stereotyping and prejudice, including the encoding of social category information and how that affects the activation and application of stereotypes. Other studies examine how stereotype activation and application can be changed. As part of this research, we investigate the mechanisms of behavior regulation and executive function.
- Social factors that explain the gender gap in the physical science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
- Causes and consequences of adolescent substance use.
Here is a description of some of our specific projects.
The purpose of this project is to understand the types of information we extract when we view a face. We are particularly focusing on information that is relevant to deciding an individual's social category memberships. We are using event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to examine in detail the different processing stages that may be involved in assessing what social groups other people belong to, and how these early perceptual processes are related to the later activation of stereotypes and prejudice. We are also examining how social category information is combined with other facial information such as emotional expressions to affect impressions.
This is a collaborative project being conducted in conjunction with Josh Correll, Akira Miyake, and Naomi Friedman at CU and Bruce Bartholow at University of Missouri. We are examining the role of individual differences in executive functions (EFs) — higher-order control processes that regulate thought and action — in the expression of implicit racial bias. Although an individual’s performance on laboratory-based implicit bias tasks often is interpreted as a straightforward manifestation of his/her underlying automatic bias, recent preliminary evidence suggests that performance on all such tasks implicates executive control processes, such as the overriding of dominant or prepotent responses. The purpose of this project is to understand the role of individual variability in EF abilities in the expressions of racial bias, as assessed by implicit bias tasks. We are examining this with both behavioral and neural measures of EF and implicit racial bias. This project was funded by NSF.
This is a collaborative project with CU physicists Noah Finkelstein and Steven Pollock and former Social Neuroscience lab post-doc Jane Stout that ultimately seeks to understand and ameliorate the gender gap that exists in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are specifically examining the role of identity threat and belonging. For women in math and science, identity threat takes the form of a fear that they could be judged in light of negative stereotypes about their gender group. This identity threat, coupled with other factors such as the low representation of women in STEM, can then lead to a low sense of belonging. We are examining how such identity or stereotype threat impairs performance and learning in math and science among female undergraduate students. We are also assessing other factors that imnpact belonging, and how low sense of belonging compromises performance and peristence. This project is currently funded by NSF and a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in STEM Education.
In collaboration with Angela Bryan, Kent Hutchison, Erik Willcutt, David Allen, and Akira Miyake, we are taking a multi-level perspective to understand marijuana use among adolescents. We are specifically looking at genetic, neural, and social factors that relate to behavior regulation, and how these factors explain current levels of marijuana use, as well as change in use over time. This project is currently funded by NIDA.
This collaborative project, lead by Bruce Bartholow at University of Missouri and also involving CU Social Neuroscience Research Associate Chris Loearch and University of Missouri's Paul Bolls, looks at the mechanisms that mediate the effects of alcohol advertising and marketing on adolescents’ alcohol-related attitudes and behaviors. We are specifically using a range of behavioral, neural, and physiological measures to at changes in basic motivational and attentional processes with known links to approach and consummatory behavior and related attitudes following exposure of alcohol advertising, and how this predicts alcohol-related attitudes and real-world drinking behaviors. This project is currently funded by NIAAA.