I do research on several topics, mostly in the areas of group decision making, impression formation in the workplace, and several social / situational factors pertaining to substance use. Although this may seem odd, my interest in the latter two grew out of the groups research. Pretty early on when looking at group decision making, I started thinking about it in terms of how people in a group perceive each other and the various social norms and motives that go into how people behave in groups. As I dug more into those issues to inform my groups research, I started becoming interested in each of them in their own right. With regards to impression formation, I became particularly interested in factors influencing perceptions of women in the workplace (e.g., stereotyping) and in how social norms and motives influence choosing to use (or not use) cigarettes, alcohol, and other substances. More detail on the types of questions I ask in each area are below.
- Groups and teams. We've all heard "two heads are better than one", but the reality is that often fails to be true. There are a number of challenges groups must overcome to outperform what their members could do working separately. For example, groups must find a way to identify members relevant information, evaluate how to use information or opinions advanced by each member (i.e., figure out how much weight to give to each), how to divide the workload across members (e.g., who is responsible for what pieces of a task), and much, much more. I look at various factors influencing how members divide the labor and coordinate their efforts, how they evaluate each other's information and opinions / arguments / evidence, and how these things relate to group performance.
- Impression formation and objectification. Although we’ve all been told not to judge a book by its cover, the reality is that physical appearance has a big impact on how one is perceived. I originally became interested in this topic while examining the perception and use of expertise in group decision making. However, my interests have grown to include how controllable aspects of appearance (e.g., attire, body art) influence the way a person is perceived in one-on-one interactions. In the last few years I’ve become particularly interested in how these factors contribute to negative attitudes toward and treatment of women (e.g., seeing women as objects rather than people), especially in the workplace. I’ve only been working in this area for a few years, and still have a lot to learn.
- Social and situational factors in health behaviors. A lot of factors feed into health behaviors. Many of these can be considered social or situational. That is, deriving from topics studied in social psychology. My work in this area has mainly looked at the use of cigarettes and alcohol, though I often assess the use of other substances as well (i.e., see if people are using multiple substances). Some of my work in this area has looked at motivational orientations regarding reward-seeking versus risk-mitigation (often referred to as BAS & BIS). Other work has looked at norms as a source of expectations or behavioral rules. Some has even looked at situational stressors such as work-school conflict, that is, how the experience of trying to balance demands of different areas of life might lead to the use of one substance over another. My students and I have published several articles on these topics in the last few years, and will likely continue to do so.