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, Princeton, 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).
- 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:
- Dovidio, J. F., Pearson, A. R., & Orr, P. (2008). Social psychology and neuroscience: Strange bedfellows or a healthy marriage? Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 11, 247-263.
- Pearson, A. R., Dovidio, J. F., & Gaertner, S. L. (2009). The nature of contemporary prejudice: Insights from aversive racism. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3, 314-338.
- Pearson, A. R., Dovidio, J. F., Phills, C, E., & Onyeador, I. N. (2013). Attitude-goal correspondence and interracial interaction: Implications for executive function and impression formation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 907-914.
- Pearson, A. R., & Schuldt, J. P. (2015). Bridging climate communication divides: Beyond the partisan gap. Science Communication, 37, 805-812.
- Pearson, A. R., & Schuldt, J. P. (2014). Facing the diversity crisis in climate science. Nature Climate Change, 4, 1039-1042.
- Pearson, A. R., West, T. V., Dovidio, J. F., Powers, S. R., Buck, R., & Henning, R. A. (2008). The fragility of intergroup relations: Divergent effects of delayed audiovisual feedback in intergroup and intragroup interaction. Psychological Science, 19, 1272-1279.
- Pratto, F., Pearson, A. R., Lee, I., & Saguy, T. (2008). Power dynamics in an experimental game. Social Justice Research, 21, 377-407.
- Schuldt, J. P., & Pearson, A. R. (2016). The role of race and ethnicity in climate change polarization: Evidence from a U.S. national survey experiment. Climatic Change, 136, 495- 505.
- West, T. V., Dovidio, J. F., & Pearson, A. R (2014). Accuracy and bias in perceptions of relationship interest for intergroup and intragroup roommates. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5, 235-242.
- West, T. V., Pearson, A. R., Dovidio, J. F., Shelton, J. N., & Trail, T. E. (2009). Superordinate identity and intergroup roommate friendship development. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1266-1272.
- West, T. V., Pearson, A. R., & Stern, C. (2014). Anxiety perseverance in intergroup interaction: When incidental explanations backfire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 825-843.
- Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., Pearson, A. R., & Riek, B. M. (2005). Social identities and social context: Social attitudes and personal well-being. In S. R. Thye & E. J. Lawler (Eds.), Advances in group processes: Social identification in groups (pp. 231-260). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
- Dovidio, J. F., Gaertner, S. L., Penner, L. A., Pearson, A. R., & Norton, W. E. (2009). Aversive racism – How unconscious bias influences behavior: Implications for legal, employment, and health care contexts. In J. L. Chin (Ed.), Diversity in mind and action (pp. 21-37). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
- Dovidio, J. F., Pearson, A. R., Gaertner, S. L., & Hodson, G. (2008). On the nature of contemporary prejudice: From subtle bias to severe consequences. In V. M. Esses & R. A. Vernon (Eds.), Explaining the breakdown of ethnic relations (pp. 41-60). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Pearson, A. R., & Dovidio, J. F. (2014). Intergroup fluency: How processing experiences shape intergroup cognition and communication. In J. Forgas, J. Laszlo, & O. Vincze (Eds.), Social cognition and communication (pp. 101-120). New York: Psychology Press.
- Dovidio, J. F., Johnson, J. D., Gaertner, S. L., Pearson, A. R., Saguy, T., & Ashburn-Nardo, L. (2009). Empathy and intergroup relations. In M. Mikulincer & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Prosocial motives, emotions, and behavior. Washington, DC: APA.
- Contemporary Prejudice
- Critical Inquiry Seminar: "We": The New Science of Social Life
- Introductory Psychology
- Research Design & Methodology
- Social Psychology
Department of Psychology
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Claremont, California 91711
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