Research Interests

Dr. Chasteen will be considering graduate school applications for Fall, 2017.

My research interests lie in two areas. I am interested in stereotyping, prejudice, and stigma across the adult lifespan. I investigate issues from both the perceiver's and the target's perspective. I am also interested in examining cognitive processes such as memory and attention within a social context.

Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Stigma

Examining the perceiver's perspective

How do perceivers form impressions of people who are not easily categorized into a single social group? We all belong to multiple social groups (e.g., race, gender, or age groups), yet much of the research on impression formation has focused on impressions based on only one of a person's group memberships. My lab is examining how the complex interplay of people's multiple group identities and their associated stereotypes influence impression formation. We have found evidence that perceivers' impressions are affected when stereotypes associated with one group identity (e.g., race) conflict with stereotypes associated with another group identity (e.g., age). Moreover, we have found that these altered impressions occur when both group memberships are obvious (e.g., race and age) as well as when they are not (e.g., race and sexual orientation). We are also investigating how perceivers form impressions of people whose social identities are ambiguous, such as multiracial people. We have found that perceivers find it more difficult to evaluate multiracial individuals and that they attempt to rely on contextual cues to help them form impressions.

Examining the target's perspective

How do stereotypes and prejudice affect stigmatized individuals? My students and I investigate these experiences in a variety of groups, such as older adults and their experiences of ageism and stereotype threat. We also examine the stigma experiences of people who do not easily fit into common social categories (e.g., race). In the case of multiracial people, we have found that their stigma experiences differ from monoracial people, who are easily categorized into a single racial group. Because multiracial people encounter confusion about their racial background, they value others' accuracy about their race more than do monoracial people. We have found this greater need for self-verification regarding racial background influences multiracial people's feelings about upcoming interactions, such that they are more interested in interacting with an accurate than a confused partner.

Examining Cognition in a Social Context

How do social factors such as beliefs, stereotypes, and cultural metaphors influence people's cognitive function? We have been investigating this question through some different lines of research. In one project, my colleagues and I have found that older adults' implicit theories about their ability to influence how they age impacts their memory performance. In another project, we found that older people's views of aging influence their self-perceived memory and hearing abilities, which in turn predict their memory and hearing function. In another project we have been examining how social variables such as cultural metaphors and role models influence lower-level processes like attentional orienting. We have found that, consistent with cultural metaphors about abstract concepts such as the Divine, people form spatial associations such that exposure to the concepts God or Devil orients people's attention to corresponding locations (e.g., God is "up", Devil is "down"). We have also found these spatial associations can form spontaneously following exposure to novel social objects such as positive and negative role models, which in turn then orient visual attention.

Research Funded By:

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

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