Brock Lab of Intergroup Processes (BLIP)
Prejudice, in its contemporary forms, has become increasingly subtle and difficult to detect. We are interested in understanding when and how such processes operate. In doing so, we often examine rationalizations (e.g., dehumanization) as a means to "justify" negative attitudes.
Personality and Individual Differences
Psychologists adopt different approaches to understanding prejudice. In this lab, we consider not only situational/contextual factors, but personality and individual difference factors. This often takes the form of a Person x Situation approach. We often study variables of an ideological nature, such as social dominance orientation, or right-wing authoritarianism.
Many social psychological theoretical positions either ignore or dismiss the role of individual differences in prejudice. This approach, we find, is somewhat puzzling, as though person-factors influence one's goals, construals, motivations, threat-sensitivities in life generally, but stop short of being relevant in contexts that are intergroup in nature. To us, understanding the personal factors that contribute to prejudice as every bit as important as the social factors; we seek to understand the person, the situation, personal construals of situations, and Person x Situation interactions.
Emotions (e.g., intergroup disgust; empathy; group threat; anxiety)
In the last 10-15 years, researchers have become increasingly interested in emotional factors in prejudice. In the lab, we are now exploring how different types of emotions contribute to prejudice. In doing so, we are manipulating and measuring various emotions. Of particular interest are disgust (especially intergroup disgust) and empathy.
One strong interest involves attitudes toward immigrants and refugees. On what grounds do people oppose these groups? In answering these questions, we often combine our interest in individual differences, threat, and subtle prejudice.
Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination
The goal of understanding prejudice and discrimination is typically to determine methods to reduce or at least limit the expression of intergroup bias. As such, we study processes such as recategorization (cognitive representations of common ingroup identity), intergroup perspective-taking, intergroup contact, and intergroup friendships.
Dehumanization and Speciesism
It has become increasingly clear to us in the lab that processes of outgroup dehumanization are important in understanding why human social groups dislike and distrust each other, and why they commit acts of discrimination (or worse). More recently we have become interested in how speciesism contributes to these processes (e.g., Costello & Hodson, 2010, GPIR), and the related implications for prejudice reduction.
Of course, these represent rather artificial categories for splicing up our research interests. In reality, almost all of our studies integrate the themes listed on this page.