Potential PhD Projects

I study social categorization, that is, the process and consequences of using categories to understand people. Below are some topics that I think would be particularly well suited to PhD projects, although I am open to supervising work on any topic falling under my expertise.

Social causes of facial recognition bias

Who we remember and who we forget is biased by ethnic and social group memberships. A Christian is less likely to remember a Muslim's face than another Christian's face, a White person is less likely to remember a Black person's face than another white person's face, a straight person is less likely to remember a gay person's face than another straight person's face. Much uncertainty remains as to the causes and consequences of this bias, however. Projects on this topic could explore the mechanisms by which facial recognition bias occurs or could explore the consequences of facial recognition bias in different domains of human interaction.

Exploring the psychology of being forgotten

Forgetting other people is a frequently studied topic in social categorization and social cognition. Strikingly, however, modern science can say almost nothing about the experience of being forgotten, that is, having one's identity, characteristics, or actions misremembered or not remembered by another person. Projects on this topic would explore the meaning and experience of begin forgotten as part of social interaction.

Noticing differences during person perception

Differences between people are often more influential than similarities. Although there are exceptions, this simple principle governs much of what we notice when forming impressions of other people. Projects on this topic could explore how this tendency to notice differences affects the perception of multiracial people or could explore how this tendency affects the processing of multiple simultaneously relevant social categories.