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Research

My research agenda constitutes projects that can answer two questions affirmatively. One, is the question intellectually gripping—does it require analysis from different levels of analyses and different academic lenses; and two, does it contribute towards a more just society. Specifically, my work in psychology investigates the influence of societal factors such as social movements and neoliberalism on individual implicit and explicit racial and political attitudes. I have a wide and deep understanding of social sciences due to my academic training in systems engineering, behavioral economics and social psychology, and an in-depth knowledge of critical, historical and structural analyses. Thus, I am convinced that not just continued surviving but thriving human existence requires a radical restructuring of our current socio-politico-economic systems.

#BlackLivesMatter
 

Implicit and Explicit Racial Attitudes Changed During Black Lives Matter. Co-authored with Jeremy Sawyer.

Lab-based interventions have been ineffective in changing individuals’ implicit racial attitudes for more than brief durations, and exposure to high-status Black exemplars like Obama has proven ineffective in shifting societal-level racial attitudes. Antiracist social movements, however, offer a potential societal-level alternative for reducing racial bias. Racial attitudes were examined before and during Black Lives Matter (BLM) and its high points of struggle with 1,369,204 participants from 2009 to 2016. After controlling for changes in participant demographics, overall implicit attitudes were less pro-White during BLM than pre-BLM, became increasingly less pro-White across BLM, and were less pro-White during most periods of high BLM struggle. Considering changes in implicit attitudes by participant race, Whites became less implicitly pro-White during BLM, whereas Blacks showed little change. Regarding explicit attitudes, Whites became less pro-White and Blacks became less pro-Black during BLM, each moving toward an egalitarian “no preference” position.
Find the article here and the research files here.


Understanding political quiescence.

Role of Information in System Justifying Attitudes.

Wealth inequality in the US is at unprecedented levels and yet we don’t see the kind of resistance to it that one might expect, especially from the oppressed. System Justification Theory (SJT) argues that people are motivated to justify the systems one belongs to—even if the systems are unjust. In fact, SJT postulates that one would become more defensive of the system when inequality in the system is highlighted. I propose, instead, that one’s uncritical attitudes towards a system can partly be explained as a result of lack of adequate information about the system. Across four studies, I show that (1) the average US citizen agrees that inequality in the US economy is too high, (2) one becomes more critical of the inequality when one is presented with information about inequality in the system, (3) the oppressed are not more willing to justify the inequalities in the system, (4) the oppressed might be less informed of the inequality in the system—potentially resulting in being less critical, and (5) feeling excluded and insecure about future income prospects doesn’t necessarily prevent one from seeking information critical of the system.
Find the dissertation here and the research files here.


Pro-sociality amongst incarcerated folks.

Generosity, fairness, trust and time: the performance of therapeutic community residents in economics experiments. Co-authored with Jessica V. Linley, Brian Roe, and Keith L. Warren.

We analyze results from a sample of US criminal offenders and a comparison group who participate in five well-known experiments – the dictator game, the ultimatum game, the trust game, risk attitude elicitation and time preference elicitation.  We find offender response patterns are significantly more likely to reflect fairness, altruism and trustworthiness than the comparison group, as well as to embody preferences for immediate monetary payoffs.  With respect to fairness, we find that offenders are significantly more likely to reject ultimatum offers that are too stingy or too generous, a pattern of response previously identified among potlatch societies.  We discuss possible motives for offenders to reject lucrative offers that disadvantage anonymous randomly assigned partners and offer insights for correctional policies. 

Find the article here.