COMMITMENT: Fall term (see description below)
COMPENSATION: Course credit; See description below
The Lab: Members of the Sidanius Lab in Intergroup Relations are a collection of scholars interested in the interface among intergroup relations, conflict, inequality, social hierarchy, stereotyping, ideology and prejudice. The goals of the lab group are to examine the social psychology of power and intergroup relations from an integrative and multi-disciplinary perspective, producing research that speaks to real world social and political issues.
The Position: The Sidanius Lab is seeking a set of strongly motivated research assistants to support its varied research program during the Fall 2011 semester. Research assistants will be involved in a range of projects across the lab, supervised by faculty, post-doctoral fellows and graduate students. Tasks will include research design, participant recruitment and management, data collection and analysis, and hands-on experience as an experimenter or confederate in lab-based experiments. We expect you to gain skills in online survey design, running studies in a lab, and statistical analysis. The research assistants are also invited to attend and participate in fortnightly lab meetings in which we discuss the lab’s research relating to the social psychology of power and inequality; if interested, research assistants are also invited to present and receive feedback on their own research ideas. Research Assistants are welcome either on a volunteer basis or for course credit, and are required to commit to a minimum number of hours per week depending on their enrollment. The lab is based in William James Hall, though occasional research tasks may require short trips off-campus to access community samples.
The Research: Below is an outline of the main projects taking place at the lab this semester.
- Professor Jim Sidanius: Prof. Sidanius is commencing a new research project exploring the relationships between neurotransmitters and hormones on the one hand, and socio-political outgroup attitudes, on the other hand. This project will investigate the associations with a set of physiological measures and political psychological constructs such as right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. Tasks may include assembling and integrating the research in this area, along with other ad hoc research tasks as required.
- Arnold Ho: Many have argued that the increasing rate of intermarriage between racial minorities and Whites and patterns of biracial identification will lead to the dissolution of the American racial hierarchy (e.g., Alba & Nee, 2003; Lee & Bean, 2004; 2007a; 2007b; Sears & Savalei, 2006; Thornton, 2009). Yet, little empirical evidence exists on perceptions of new racial identities that diverge from older notions of race purity and the “one drop” rule. My research examines how biracial individuals are perceived, and what this implies for racial hierarchies. Having accumulated evidence that both Asian-White and Black-White biracials are seen as relatively more minority than White, I am now examining whether stereotypes of biracials are consistent with stereotypes of their minority parent group, and what attitudes and beliefs may predict the view that biracial people are closer to their minority parent group. I am also working on projects to understand individual differences in support for social hierarchies and inequality (social dominance orientation), and ideologies and beliefs that are related to this orientation. For additional information about some of this research, see http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-eye-the-beholder/201104/the-one-drop-rule-how-black-is-black and http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/12/%E2%80%98one-drop-rule%E2%80%99-persists/.
- Nour Kteily: Nour is primarily interested in investigating the dynamics of intergroup relations between high and low power groups. In particular, he is interested in understanding more about the experience of members of low-power groups, exploring questions such as the conditions under which they accept versus challenge the status quo. Currently, he is conducting experimental research in the United States to follow up on his findings in the Israeli/Palestinian context exploring the psychological factors that influence high and low power group members’ willingness to accept or reject negotiations with one another. Related work in the Middle East is investigating the predictors of support for various forms of protest against the United States in four Arab countries. In a second stream of research, Nour is investigating predictions from Social Dominance Theory’s evolutionary framework, which suggests that prejudice towards other groups is driven by fundamentally different factors amongst men and women. Nour will only need limited research support this semester.
- Jennifer Sheehy-Skeffington: What are the psychological effects of inequality in society? Does power really corrupt those at the top? Jennifer’s research is interested in the effect of being in a group that is given high or low power on how one thinks, feels and behaves. Her research has focused on the tendency of those in high power groups to take greater risks, and the importance of power differences being seen as legitimate by those whom they affect. In the fall semester, Jennifer will be running lab-based and survey experiments exploring the effect of observing or imagining a member of your ingroup being in a position of high or low power, to see whether power’s effects extend along the lines of group membership, and what this means for social change in unequal societies. In a separate strand of research, Jennifer is exploring the social psychology of institutional corruption, looking at why peers retaliate against whistleblowers in an organizational setting. RAs may be asked to provide input to study design, to act as lab experimenters or confederates, to manage online data collection, and to assist in data cleaning and analysis.
- Diana Ramos de Oliveira: Members of high-status groups display in-group favoritism shown to favor social inequality, but little research has investigated the contribution of perceived inter-group threat and maintenance of dominance, or the relationship of dominant group members with beneficiaries and minority groups and willingness (or lack thereof) to support them. Diana’s current research project investigates whether threat perception (e.g. economic, sexual, and physical) might affect in different ways variables such as social dominance orientation, authoritarianism, and Schadenfreude - the idea that individuals take pleasure in the misfortunes of out-groups or individuals. This project will be carried out between Brazil and the United States in the first phase, and possibly extended to Spain and Portugal in a second phase with different target groups. Diana will be seeking RA support to act as lab experimenter, to manage online data collection, and to assist in data cleaning and analysis, some text corrections and data coding.
- Sarah Cotterill: While social inequality is sometimes maintained through physical force, Sarah is interested in how ideology might also perpetuate and legitimize differences in group status. This fall, Sarah will launch a project that explores whether mere exposure to these ideologies is sufficient to influence support for policies with implications for the distribution of resources. She also hopes to investigate how exposure to certain ideologies shapes interpretation of history, with a broader goal of understanding how these variables interact to determine support for policy outcomes. Future projects may also examine the way in which ideology generates competition between low-status groups. Sarah will need an RA to act as a lab experimenter, and to help with data management and analysis.
To apply for a fall RA position, contact Sarah Cotterill (email@example.com) with your CV or resumé (with details of relevant classes taken) and a paragraph on the reasons for applying to the lab, and which projects interest you most, and why.