Research

In my research, I investigate how a social perception and cognition framework can be leveraged to understand inequality. I am particularly interested in understanding how and when people use visual cues and social categories to make evaluative judgments about others that are discriminatory and dehumanizing, and how these judgments can be both cause and consequence of disparate outcomes.

Face Perception. The face is perhaps the single most important source of social information. In one program of research, I investigate how everyday face perception and processing influences how people come to understand others’ cognitive capacities and emotional experiences. Here, I explore how face structure, features, and processing influence how we understand others’ minds (e.g., Alaei, Deska, Hugenberg, & Rule, in prep; Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, 2017; Deska, Lloyd, & Hugenberg, 2018; Khalid, Deska, & Hugenberg, 2016), emotional expressions (Deska, Lloyd, & Hugenberg, in press), and experiences of pain (Deska & Hugenberg, 2018).

Body Perception. Much like the face, people also use the human body to form impressions of others. Its features, shape, and the dynamics of its motion influence how people understand others. In this area of my research, I explore how body morphology (Deska, Kunstman, Almaraz, Lloyd, Hugenberg, & Smith, in prep; Lloyd, McConnell, Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, in prep), posture (Deska & Hugenberg, in prep), movement (Deska, Rule, Johnson, & Hugenberg, in prep), and perceived capacity for action (Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, in prep) shape the judgments we make of others.

Social Categories. Although people benefit greatly from their membership in social groups, people often have prejudiced attitudes about other groups that can lead to discriminatory outcomes. In this area of research, I test how social categories (e.g., race, sex, SES) influence the extent to which we are willing to believe others (Lloyd, Hugenberg, McConnell, Kunstman, & Deska, 2017), learn from others’ mistakes (Walker, Smallman, Summerville, & Deska, 2016) understand others’ pain experiences (Deska, Kunstman, Lloyd, Almaraz, Bernstein, Hugenberg & Gonzales, in prep; Lloyd, Summers, Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, under review), and effect how we treat each other (Deska, Kunstman, Smith, Witte, & Rancourt, in prep; Kunstman, Plant, & Deska, 2016; Lloyd, Parsons, Deska, Clerkin, & Hugenberg, in prep). In my dissertation, I explored how the properties of groups influence the judgments we make about the members of those groups (Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, under review).