My work focuses on understanding and undermining the broad reach of narrow thinking. Specifically, I study cultural, social, cognitive, and neural mechanisms that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudice, and leverage basic science about those mechanisms to develop and refine interventions to reduce the expression of stereotyping and prejudice.
Learning processes that perpetuate stereotypes and biases.
One line of our work explores how Hebbian learning, or activation-based learning, leads to stereotype perpetuation. In addition, hedonic learning processes (e.g., reward/aversion) also may play a role in stereotype perpetuation.
Cultural discourse that perpetuates stereotypes.
We examine how stereotype-based humor perpetuates stereotypes, specifically in the form of internet image memes. We also study how stereotype-related statistics in the media are misinterpreted by people because of prejudice and bias.
Testing and refinement of the bias habit-breaking intervention.
The bias habit breaking intervention was the first, and remains the only intervention that has been shown experimentally to produce long-term changes in bias. We are updating the bias habit-breaking intervention to more exportable formats and testing the effectiveness of these interventions. It will also assess the increased probability of confronting bias behavior in classroom setting.