Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Adam R. Pearson

Adam R. Pearson

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The challenges of racial, ethnic, and cross-cultural integration are among some of the most contentious and complex of the 21st Century. Research in my lab explores how people navigate diverse environments and the role that everyday interactions play in shaping contemporary intergroup relations.

In one line of research, my colleagues and I are exploring how conscious and nonconscious biases manifest in everyday perceptions and social interactions, with the goal of understanding psychological factors that impact intergroup relations. For instance, in laboratory experiments, my colleagues and I have found that initial interracial and interethnic interactions are remarkably fragile and that even very subtle disruptions in conversation (e.g., a 1-second delay) can fuel biases and undermine both Whites’ and minorities’ interests in intergroup contact.

I am also interested in basic questions about the nature and accuracy of intergroup perception. For example, my colleagues and I are examining how people (mis)construe subtle verbal and nonverbal behavior (e.g., anxiety) in intergroup exchanges. Using dyadic analytical methods, we are also exploring sources of bias and accuracy in intergroup mindreading and whether accuracy improves over time with more intergroup contact. This work has both theoretical and practical implications for understanding the psychological mechanisms that give rise to common misunderstandings, miscommunication, and distrust in intergroup exchanges.

Finally, with colleagues at Cornell, University of Cambridge, and the Environmental Defense Fund, I am working on several projects at the intersection of diversity science and sustainability. Sustainability challenges like global climate change are often characterized as collective action problems, however, beyond political influences, we know little about how groups impact how people think about these issues. We are exploring how group identities, such as race, ethnicity, and social class affect how people perceive and engage with environmental groups and initiatives, and major cooperative challenges, like climate change. Current studies are exploring a wide range of social psychological factors that contribute to an “attitude-action” gap in public engagement on environmental problems and the issue of climate change. Additional studies currently underway are examining how race, religion, morality, and class relations impact how people think about climate change. For our perspective on what’s “social” about the problem of climate change, and what psychologists have to gain by studying it, see our forthcoming article, “Social Climate Science,” in Perspectives on Psychological Science).

Primary Interests:

  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Intergroup Relations
  • Internet and Virtual Psychology
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Motivation, Goal Setting
  • Nonverbal Behavior
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Person Perception
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Social Cognition

Research Group or Laboratory:

Journal Articles:

Other Publications:

Courses Taught:

  • Contemporary Prejudice
  • Critical Inquiry Seminar: "We": The New Science of Social Life
  • Introductory Psychology
  • Research Design & Methodology
  • Social Psychology

Adam R. Pearson
Department of Psychology
Pomona College
647 North College Way
Claremont, California 91711
United States

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