Lay Theories of Prejudice
In one line of research, we explore how a lay theory of generalized prejudice, the extent to which individuals believe that prejudices co-occur and go hand-in-hand, impacts experiences of stigma and may facilitate positive intra-minority attitudes. For example, we have demonstrated that White women anticipate negative gender-based treatment from an individual with negative attitudes towards Black Americans, and Black and Latino men anticipate more positive treatment at companies with gender-inclusive bathrooms and gender diversity awards. These identity cues transfer across identity dimensions due to a lay theory of generalized prejudice, such that individuals or entities which hold negative (or positive) attitudes towards one stigmatized group are perceived to hold similar attitudes towards other stigmatized groups. Our current research examines how individuals come to hold certain beliefs about prejudices and how a lay theory of generalized prejudice impacts health outcomes and coalition behavior.
In a second program of research, we examine prejudice confrontations, specifically the motivations, styles, and outcomes of prejudice confrontations. For example, our research has found that after being confronted, perpetrators used fewer stereotypes about multiple stigmatized groups one week later due to prolonged rumination. Our other research examines the health outcomes of individuals who confront prejudice and the employed prejudice confrontation styles. For example, our research has found that certain styles of prejudice confrontations promote sense of autonomy, while other styles of prejudice confrontations may negatively impact the well-being of confronters, including increased rumination about the experienced discrimination.
In a third line of work, we examine when boundaries around social categories may shift to accommodate or exclude individuals and how boundaries which highlight integration or segregation affect cognitive outcomes and expectations of inclusion. For example, although Middle Eastern Americans continue to be legally considered as White in the U.S., our research has demonstrated that Middle Eastern Americans are often excluded from the White racial category by White Americans. Additionally, our research has examined how the presence of an integrated, diverse group can promote anticipated inclusion in a nearby physical space and can promote cognitive creativity compared to segregated or non-diverse groups.