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Major Programs of Research

Concepts of Race

What do people think race is? This straightforward question lacks a straightforward answer, and even the so-called experts can’t agree. In this line of research, we examine the nuanced ways in which people conceptualize race, focusing often on the structure and consequences of those concepts. For example, what does it mean to be Black and White? Can a person change their race? To what extent do concepts of race vary across social groups?

Systems of Racism

Racism is a system of advantage based on race, in which some groups are afforded advantages that other groups do not. For example, it is well established that in the U.S., White Americans are advantaged in the domains of employment, housing, and criminal justice. In this line of research, we examine and expose the nuanced ways in which racism plagues other aspects of life. For instance, we document how and why U.S. White Americans are advantaged in Christian churches, romantic relationships, and the scientific publication process.

Normative Reasoning

Children use descriptive group norms (how a group is) to make prescriptive judgments (how individuals group members should be), and this descriptive-to-prescriptive tendency is important for understanding how children understand and navigate the social world. In this line of research, we examine this tendency under varying conditions (e.g., time constraints, across cultures), domains (e.g., moral and epistemic reasoning), and consequences (e.g., implications for intergroup relationships). We are particularly interested in identifying ways to harness this tendency to motivate children toward prosocial behaviors.