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Despite a half-century’s worth of social science evidence, documenting a societal shift towards endorsing “norms of racial equality” (e.g., Bobo, 2001), many of the stark, obstinate racial disparities that have long been a hallmark of American society still remain. The broad question driving my research centers on this discrepancy; how can we reconcile the persistent racial stratification that pervades contemporary American society when racial egalitarianism is ostensibly at an historic high? The central aim of my current and future research is to better understand the psychological factors shaping perceptions of, and responses to, societal racial inequality, across a number of domains.

In particular, much of my current research focuses on addressing the following questions (outlined in further detail in the sections to follow):

  • What are the psychological factors driving Americans’ profound misperceptions of progress toward societal racial equality?
  • What are the implications of a structural (vs. interpersonal) understanding of racism on perceptions of, and responses to, evidence of societal racial stratification?
  • What are the educational and socialization processes, as well as the psychological motivations, that influence the development of a structural understanding of group-based discrimination?

It is unlikely that Americans can develop thoughtful, effective approaches to reducing racial inequality if the current levels of inequality continue to be so profoundly misperceived. It is essential, then, to better understand how to increase the accuracy of perceptions of these obstinate disparities, and their structural causes, so as to better inform both policy makers and the general public about their true scope and gravity. Although the findings of my current and future work will inform the development of psychological theory, they will also be important in informing both the development of collective efforts to redress racial inequality, across societal domains, and the development of outreach efforts to garner public support for such collective action. In this program of research, I pursue theoretically-driven, policy-relevant research designed to elucidate the psychological underpinnings of racial inequality, while also using my expertise and platform to advocate for effective policy approaches to reducing inequality.