By: Jessie Briggs

The Temple Cognition and Implicit Attitudes (CIA) lab, led by Dr. Andrew Karpinski, uses a social cognition framework to investigate how unconscious mental processes affect the way people think about themselves and others.

A prominent theme in our lab has been understanding how stereotypes unconsciously bias interactions with others; with a particular focus on intersectional stereotypes. Although plenty of research has been devoted to studying stereotypes, emphasis on intersectional stereotypes has only started to emerge recently. An intersectional stereotype is a generalized assumption made about a person based on their membership in multiple social categories.

Currently, graduate student Anne Walsh is leading projects investigating how people’s stereotypes about race and gender intersect to form unique assumptions. For example, thinking about a “Black woman” may conjure specific stereotypes that do not emerge when thinking about a “Black person” or a “woman” separately. Anne is particularly interested in identifying when people use intersectional stereotypes and how they impact decision making, such as in hiring practices.

Another interest of our lab is in understanding how laypeople define what it means to have free-will. Related to our work on stereotyping and prejudice, we have found that minorities indicate feelings that their free-will is constrained by discrimination. This work is part of a larger mission to understand differences between lay beliefs and philosophical theories. Another branch of this research has examined beliefs about what constitutes the “Self.” Both projects began as undergraduate honors’ theses.

Additionally, examining how people characterize themselves is also a prominent theme in our lab; especially in relation to how people choose to remember themselves when their self-esteem has been threatened. For example, our studies have shown that people change their memories after academic failure, choosing to recall their past selves as less competent but more likeable. One of our current undergraduate members, Abigail Dole, has applied for a LAURA scholarship to support a new project investigating gender differences in the autobiographical memories people recall following threat.

We take pride in the work of our undergraduate members. Research assistants have the opportunity to be involved in our projects at all stages, including refining new study designs, running participants through in-person experiments, coding data for analysis, and presenting results to the public. Our undergraduate members routinely present posters at regional conferences, such as the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. Moreover, we strive to support students who have ideas for original research projects. The CIA lab has been home to many honors students throughout the years and we welcome new members interested in completing an honors project.

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