Research

In the Social Perception and Intergroup Relations lab, we investigate how the impressions people form of others produce and sustain inequality. In particular, we examine how social category membership (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, gender) and features of individuals (e.g., facial appearance, emotion expression, body shape) lead to discriminatory and dehumanizing judgments. We work hard to both advance psychological theory and to meaningfully impact social justice.

Person Perception. The face is perhaps the single richest source of social information. We investigate how everyday face perception influences how we come to understand others’ cognitive capacities and emotional experiences. Here, we explore how face structure, features, and processing influence how we understand others’ minds (e.g., Alaei, Deska, Hugenberg, & Rule, invited revision; Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, 2017; Deska, Lloyd, & Hugenberg, 2018; Khalid, Deska, & Hugenberg, 2016), emotional expressions (Deska, Lloyd, & Hugenberg, 2018), and experiences of pain (Deska & Hugenberg, 2018). We also have ongoing projects examining how the features, shape, and the dynamics of the human body guide impression formation.

Social Categories. Although we benefit greatly from our membership in social groups, people often have prejudiced attitudes about other groups that can lead to discriminatory outcomes. We examine how social categories influence our willingness to trust 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, invited revision; Summers, Lloyd, Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, invited revision), and affect how we treat each other (Deska, Kunstman, Smith, Witte, & Rancourt, under review; Kunstman, Plant, & Deska, 2016; Lloyd, Parsons, Deska, Clerkin, & Hugenberg, in prep). We’ve also examined how the properties of groups influence the judgments we make about their members (Deska, Almaraz, & Hugenberg, in prep).