GENERAL LAB RESEARCH AREAS

  • Feelings of belonging and threat for individuals with marginalized identities.

  • Understanding the psychological processes of individuals with multiple marginalized identities. 

  • Interventions aimed a reducing gender and racial bias, particularly in STEM.

  • Intergroup interactions.

  • Psychological well-being.

  • Positive/negative biases in attitude formation and generalization

  • Examining how process in attitudes and social cognition change when we move away from majority White samples and consider issues of intersectionality

PSIA Lab Research

Very generally, the lab's research investigates how basic processes in social cognition and attitudes influence a variety of domains that are pertinent to real-world issues.

Who Fosters Connections for Women with Multiple Marginalized Identities?

Much of the lab's recent research focuses on developing and testing a framework for understanding who acts as role models to promote identity-safety (i.e., beliefs that one’s identity is valued, feelings a sense of belonging) among women with multiple marginalized identities (e.g., Black and Latina women). Role models are most effective when they are part of the ingroup and individuals can identify with the potential role models. Thus, an important question for role model and social psychological research broadly is – who is part of the ingroup and relatable among women with multiple identities? To answer this question, we recognize the importance of shared identity-based adversity (i.e., having similar experiences with bias/discrimination) as a critical mechanism for fostering connections and identification with successful exemplars. The U.S. has a long and continuing history of racism, making race-based discrimination chronically salient for Black and Brown Americans. Thus, Black and Latina women tend to be more aware of bias stemming from their race/ethnicity than their gender. 

Given this societal backdrop, across multiple studies, we consistently found that U.S. Black (and Latina) women believed that a Black (or Latinx) scientist had encountered more similar experiences with adversity than a White female scientist, which predicted higher identification with the scientist. Identifying with a successful scientist, ultimately encouraged more identity-safety and feelings of belonging in STEM. 

We are excited to take this work in multiple new directions! 

  • In a grant funded by the National Science Foundation, we explored how different instructors may encourage belonging in their STEM classrooms. Click here to learn about the grant and the grant's main findings!

  • We are exploring when Latina and Black-White Biracial women may act as role models for Black women.

  • We are testing how intragroup variability (e.g., different hair styles) may influence solidarity perceptions and when and why certain individuals do or do not function as role models for Black women.

  • We are expanding our model to examine who functions as a persuasive ingroup source for women with multiple marginalized identities.

Representative Publications from this research:

Pietri, E. S., Johnson, I. R., & Ozgumus, E. (2018). One size may not fit all: Exploring how the intersection of race and gender and stigma consciousness predict effective identity-safe cues for Black women. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 74, 291-306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2017.06.021

Pietri, E. S., Drawbaugh, M. L., Lewis, A. N., & Johnson, I. R., (2019). Who encourages Latina women to feel a sense of identity-safety in STEM? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2019.103827

Johnson, I. R., Pietri, E. S., Fullilove, F., & Mowrer, S. (2019). Exploring identity-safety cues and allyship among Black women students in STEM environments. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 43, 131-150. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684319830926
 

Visual Media As Diversity Interventions

 

Another line of research aims to address negative beliefs directed at women in the sciences by employing a diversity intervention that teaches about gender bias and ultimately reduces this bias using visual media. In particular, we have relied on Video Interventions for Diversity in STEM (VIDS). VIDS utilizes short high-quality videos and consist of two presentational styles that each demonstrate empirical evidence of gender bias. The narrative videos entail stories demonstrating examples of gender discrimination, which are grounded in empirical research from published papers. The expert interview videos feature interviews with a psychology professor (in reality a professional actor), who explains research findings from the same papers illustrated in the associated narratives. We have found that VIDS increased individuals’ ability to notice subtle gender bias and promoted speaking out against this unfair behavior.

Example of VIDS Expert Interview
 Example of VIDS Narrative

Mitigating Potential Harmful Effects Associated with VIDS

 

Because many diversity interventions (such as VIDS) encourage awareness of bias, we also explore the beneficial and detrimental consequences of learning about gender bias for women and develop techniques to attenuate the negative effects. For example, we have found that teaching women about gender bias in STEM via VIDS harms their sense of belonging in the sciences. However, also providing women with successful female role models in STEM protects women from the harmful effects of learning about gender bias. 

We are excited to take this work in multiple new directions! 

  • We are examining the unique benefits of video media over written media as a diversity intervention.

  • We are testing the benefits of videos for introducing female students to role models and fostering belonging.

  • We are collaborating with the creates of Picture a Scientist to explore how this popular and far-reaching documentary may function as an intervention to promote inclusivity in STEM.

Representative Publications from this research:

 

Moss-Racusin, C. A., Pietri, E. S., Hennes, E. P., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, V. L., Roussos, G., Handelsman, J., (2018). Reducing STEM gender bias with VIDS (video interventions for diversity in STEM). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 24, 236-260. https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000144

Pietri, E. S., Hennes, E. P., Dovidio, J. F., Brescoll, A., Bailey, A. H., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Handelsman, J. (2019). Addressing unintended consequences of gender diversity interventions on women’s sense of belonging in STEM. Sex Roles, 80, 527-547. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0952-2

Pietri, E. S., Johnson, I.J., Majid, S., & Chu C. (2020). Seeing What’s Possible: Videos Are More Effective Than Written Portrayals for Enhancing the Relatability of Scientists and Promoting Black Female U.S. Students’ Interest in STEM. Sex Roles, 84, 13-33. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-020-01153-x

Who Acts as an Effective Ally?

The lab's research on role models for women with multiple marginal identities creates a practical problem because Black and Latinx individuals remained underrepresented in many areas, including STEM. To address this issue we have explored when and why scientists or exemplars with outgroup identities may function as identity-safe cues by being allies for Black and Latina women (i.e., a person who values the unique perspectives of Black and Latina women and actively works to help Black and Latina women). A primary goal of this work is to explore best practices for signaling allyship. One successful technique we have identified is having an ingroup member (i.e., another Black woman) endorse a person or organization as supportive of Black women. This endorsement encourages Black women to trust that the person or organization cares about helping Black women succeed and is an ally for their ingroup. 

We are excited to take this work in multiple new directions! 

  • We are examining the potential harmful effects of performative allyship for feeling targeted or tokenized. Some of this new work is being funded by a SIOP Anti-racism Grant (with friend and collaborator, Dr. Veronica Derricks as the PI!) Learn more about the grant here!

  • We are exploring how incorporating anti-racism course content can signal instructor allyship.

Representative Publications from this research:

 

Johnson, I. R., & Pietri, E. S. (2020). An ally you say?: Endorsing White women as allies to encourage perceptions of allyship and organizational identity-safety among Black women. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430220975482

Burrows, D., Pietri E. S., Johnson, I.R., Ashburn-Nardo, L (in press). Promoting Inclusive Environments: In-group Organizational Endorsement as a Tool to Increase Feelings of Identity-Safety among Black Women. Sex Roles.

The Weighting of Positives and Negative Information

 

In some of my (Dr. Pietri's) earlier research, I explored how individuals’ general proclivities regarding the weighting of positive and negative information related to their judgments and behaviors. Employing a cognitive modification intervention, my colleagues and I also help individuals to give less weight to negative information, which had variety of beneficial downstream consequences including reduction in negative interpretations, fear of rejection generally, and detrimental risk behaviors. More recently, we found that White individuals tend to overweight negative information when anticipating how they feel during an intergroup online interaction. Training individuals to give less weight to negative information encouraged less intergroup anxiety, which ultimately predicted participants’ decision to take part in the interaction.

Representative Publications from this research:

 

Fazio, R. H., Pietri, E. S., Rocklage, M.R. & Shook, N. J. (2015). Positive versus negative valence: Asymmetries in attitude formation and generalization as fundamental individual differences. Chapter to appear in J. M. Olson & M. P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 51). San Diego, CA: Elsevier.  

Pietri, E. S., Fazio, R. H., & Shook, N. J. (2013) Recalibrating positive and negative weighting tendencies in attitude generalization. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 1100-1113.

We employ a variety of methods to address our research questions. We use various surveys, reaction time tasks, behavioral measures, and recently have begun using the Reverse Correlation Image Classification (RCIC) task, a data-driven approach to generate an approximation of the participants’ mental representations. We have a lab space with 4 cubicles and computers to run carefully controlled experiments and collect reaction time data. 

Because the lab as recently moved to CU Boulder, we are in the process of purchasing new equipment to further our data collection techniques and methodologies.

Methods used in

the lab