Social Cognition research

Research in our lab is focused on the relationship between the individual's cognition and their social environment to understand the processes that may lead to the manifestation of interpersonal and social biases. Drawing from a range of approaches, we primarily employ quantitative methods to explore social phenomena. Current topics of investigation include:

Category perception and social contact

Our knowledge about social groups and categories may influence social judgement through multiple mechanisms (e.g. attention, priming) and subject to a number of conditions (e.g. affect, status, interaction goals). These determinants of group perception may sometimes hinder social contact, or they may facilitate processing and interaction.

Associative biases in social attitudes

Our social attitudes rely on what we have learned about social groups. However, our learning abilities are limited by the mechanisms that we use to associate experience to social categories. If our process of knowledge acquisition is inaccurate, our group representations will be distorted and our social judgement will be biased.

Cognitive styles in social thinking

Processing information in a more holistic or more piecemeal manner has been established to influence a wide variety of decisions, judgments, and impressions. Such an influence may extend to the understanding of news events and the recollection of social encounters, and it may interact with other culture-specific processing dimensions.

Cognitive consequences of social exclusion

Experiencing social exclusion not only leads to decreases in self-esteem and positive mood, but also shifts in attention and memory. Moreover, engaging in social exclusion has also consequences for those who are excluding. Strangers who exclude will like each other more, perceive themselves as more similar to each other, and show evidence of self-other assimilation. Thus, social exclusion may serve an important function in the formation and maintenance of interpersonal relationships.

Affect in social interaction

One’s representation of the social world in many cases involves not only what one knows, but also how one feels about people. Often the social environment is strongly associated with powerful emotions, and one’s predominant response to it may in fact be affective in nature. In such cases, one’s affective response to social encounters may be a significant predictor of one’s behavioural responses as much or more as one's cognitive representations.