Assistant Professor of Sociology
What are the causes and consequences of social labels?
My research examines the factors that shape two related forms of inequality: stigma, a measure of social exclusion, and status,the extent to which one is perceived as respected and competent. In my research, I target a number of substantive areas in which stigma and status processes are present (e.g., health, race, gender, and sexuality). This approach allows me to increase generalizability of these sociological phenomena, and also to understand what is different regarding content, consequences, management, and foundations of discrimination.
In one line of research, I examine how mental illness labels affect perceptions of people who exhibit socially abnormal/awkward behavior. I find that under certain conditions mental illness labels may actually reduce, rather than increase, social stigma. In another line of research, I examine how labels are differentially applied to men and women based on their sexual behavior. I find that compared to women, men who have had some same-sex contact are more likely to be labeled as gay and bisexual. Finally, I also examine how different social contexts change the impact of labels. One study finds that when individuals who are working on a group task are told the task involves many different kinds of skills, groups are less stratified by race/ethnicity and perform better on the task.