My research is broadly concerned with interactional explanations for social inequality. I am interested in explaining why inequality exists and how it is perpetuated through daily interactions. Some of my previous work has examined (1) how ephemeral emotions get transformed into more persistent mood states, (2) the intergroup dynamics in heterosexuals, lesbian, and gay Americans' attitudes toward heterosexual, lesbian, and gay couples, (3) whether having contact with sexual minorities causes more positive attitudes toward same-sex couples net of selection bias, and (4) the role of emotional attributions in understanding sexual inequality. Links to these papers can be found on the home page. Some of the papers are behind paywalls. If you do not have access to a particular paper, please feel free to email me for a copy.

Below, I provide brief descriptions of my current works in progress. These projects are in various stages of data collection or write-up. Please feel free to contact me about any of my projects.

Research In Progress

How Do Racial and Gender Beliefs Affect Emotions

I am in the process of revising my dissertation, “How Do Racial and Gender Beliefs Affect Emotions?” into a few journal publications. The project examines the role of cultural stereotypes in shaping people’s expectations for and interpretations of others’ emotions. Specifically, I examine whether people (1) expect and (2) attribute different emotions to Black women, Black men, White women, and White men even when they display similar emotions in response to the same situation. Further, I examine whether (3) Blacks and women compensate for these stereotypes in their own emotion displays, and (4) how differences in the attributions of emotions affect evaluations of likeability and job performance. I conducted three experiments and one survey with an oversample of Black respondents to answer these questions.

In the first experiment, I present participants with screenshots from Facebook wall posts of an individual who is writing for advice regarding a situation where a friend is neglecting his or her friendship with this individual. The race and gender of the individual seeking advice is manipulated through their profile pictures, which are currently being pretested to ensure that they are otherwise similar. Study 1 asks participants for their expectations of how the individual seeking advice should feel as well as how they likely would feel given the situation. Study 2 adapts this scenario but the individual seeking advice specifically states that he or she is “upset” by the situation. Here, I test hypotheses that people would interpret “being upset” differently for Black women, Black men, White women, and White men. Study 3 oversamples Black respondents to have enough statistical power to examine group differences and similarities in how Black women, Black men, White women, and White men actually report they would respond to the same situation. Finally, Study 4 extends the project to link differences in perceived emotions to outcomes such as perceived warmth, likeability, job performance, and hiring. In Study 4, participants are shown videos where the race, gender, and emotion displays of job applicants are manipulated and then asked to evaluate the applicants. Across these four studies, I am testing an overall model of how people’s interpretations of others’ emotions may be colored by the social characteristics of the emotion displayer and how these differences may be related to overall evaluations of the emotion displayer.

Third Party Intervention in Exchange: Perceptions of Power and Relational Outcomes (with Stephen Benard and Edward J. Lawler)

In this paper, we draw on the affect theory of social exchange to examine the role of third party mediators in shaping emotional bonds between exchange partners. We examine this relationship in three experiments. Study 1 manipulates the presence and assertiveness of third party feedback in a simulated employment contract negotiation. We find that participants’ role in the negotiation – manager or applicant – moderates their response to third party intervention. We hypothesized that the manager/applicant role moderates the effect of feedback by priming correspondingly high or low feelings of power, which shapes receptiveness to third party intervention. Study 2 explored this effect, finding that those assigned to the applicant role felt less powerful, and those assigned to the manager role felt more powerful, although participants correctly understood that both parties had equal levels of structural power in the negotiation. Study 3 sought to broaden the findings by distinguishing between self and partner’s level of power (i.e., whether both partners feel high, low, or unequal levels of power), and using a different (inter-organizational instead of intra-organizational) simulated negotiation setting. Similar to Study 1, we find that those assigned high power roles, but not low power roles, had more negative emotional responses to third party mediation. We also find that in this setting, third party intervention increased perceptions of shared responsibility for those with low-power partners, which in turn was associated with greater feelings of attachment to the dyad. Broadly, this project shows that third party intervention shapes relational outcomes by increasing perceptions of shared responsibility for the outcome of exchange, and that perceptions of power moderate this affect.

Who Should Be Doing the Housework? Partner Characteristic and Perceptions of Responsibility for Housework (with Natasha Quadlin)

How do partner characteristics—including relative income, gender, and sex—shape Americans’ ideas about how couples should divide chores and childcare? Do the effects of partner characteristics vary across heterosexual and same-sex couples? Using data from an original, nationally representative survey experiment (N = 1,025), this study examines how partner characteristics causally affect normative housework behaviors in the U.S. We randomly assigned respondents to one of eight vignette conditions that described either a heterosexual or same-sex couple, and asked respondents to assign chores and childcare tasks based on partners’ relative income, gender (i.e., masculinity/femininity), and sex. We find that relative income has consistent (and weak) effects across sexual orientation groups. Gender, conversely, is a stronger predictor in same-sex couples than heterosexual couples. Yet, we find that partner sex differences have the strongest overall effects on the assignment of chores and childcare, suggesting that Americans hold inherently essentialist beliefs about the division of household labor. Implications for research on housework, gender, and sexualities are discussed.

Social Facilitation of Revenge (with Stephen Benard)

The goal of this research is develop and test an explanation for how social groups encourage vengeful behavior by their members. We focus on the extent to which social pressure from peers motivates revenge. Specifically, I will test the argument that: (1) under certain conditions, social groups benefit from earning a reputation for engaging in vengeful behavior, (2) as a result, group members place greater social pressure on their peers to act vengefully to help the group develop this reputation, and (3) individuals are more likely to act vengefully because of this social pressure. We have collected data for four studies and are in the process of writing the manuscript.

Last updated: 20161122