Research

The goal of our research is to understand how people can enjoy intimate, successful, and positive relationships across intergroup divides. In the CSI Lab, we use a social psychological approach to investigate the dynamics of intergroup interactions from both majority and minority perspectives and to understand how each group’s differing concerns, expectations, and preferences cause intergroup interactions to go awry, despite both parties’ good intentions to get along with one another. We employ a wide range of methodologies to answer our research questions, such as laboratory experiments, dyadic interactions, and longitudinal research.

Intergroup Understanding

Majority and minority groups in society often face different experiences and challenges. Can Whites truly understand the experiences of racial minorities, particularly instances of discrimination? Our research investigates how well Whites think they understand racial minorities and explores the role of affiliative desire in affecting perceptions of understanding.

Colorblindness and Multiculturalism

Although colorblind and multicultural ideologies both aim to improve interracial interactions, they do so via different routes. Colorblindness seeks to minimize the salience and importance of race, focusing on shared characteristics between individuals; by contrast, multiculturalism highlights racial differences and embraces each group’s unique traits. Despite similar goals, do both ideologies successfully pave the way for smooth interracial encounters? We test their different effects on majority and minority groups’ cognitive and behavioral outcomes.

Positive Impressions

Although many groups are stereotyped negatively, positive stereotypes also exist. Can positive stereotypes, such as being told that one’s racial group is intelligent, cause harmful outcomes? In addition, we interested in concerns about maintaining positive impressions generally; for example, when we focus on projecting a positive impression on one dimension (e.g., friendliness), does this also affect how we come across on other dimensions (e.g., competence)? Our work explores the intrapersonal and interpersonal consequences associated with being concerned about positive group stereotypes and maintaining positive impressions.

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