My research focuses on social justice issues. In general, I am interested in the disparities or inequalities that exist between individuals and groups in terms of status, power, and outcomes (e.g., income) in the workplace. I am a scholar in the Successful Societies Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. My work with the Successful Societies program has led me to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on issues of inequality.
I am investigating how the degree to which people experience of inequality at work (e.g., in pay, status, decision-making power) affects their well-being, performance, and health. I am really intrigued by the processes through which too much inequality might hurt people, groups, and organizations. Negative effects likely operate through stress processes and social relations (e.g., increased competition, decreased trust). Thus, I am studying how inequality negatively affects people within organizations.
I have long-term interests in who is more (vs. less) likely to want to maintain and promote inequality. A lot of my previous research has focused on understanding the nature of prejudice (i.e., racism and sexism). I study both explicit (i.e., deliberate, controllable) and implicit (i.e., automatic, less controllable) prejudice and how and when they lead to discrimination when making outcome allocation decisions (e.g., who should be hired or promoted).
In addition, I study the effects of prejudice and discrimination for those who are stigmatized. I recently published a paper on the effects of stigmatization on devalued group members' health, well-being, and performance. I used a stress and coping model to explore when people are more vulnerable to the negative effects of stigmatization and when people are more likely to demonstrate resilience.
Finally, I study how people make sense of the differences that exist between individuals and groups in society: are they a result of a fairly operating meritocracy, in which the cream rises to the top, or are they a result of injustices, such as discrimination or favoritism? Such different understandings of why inequality exists plays an important role in determining people's reaction to social and organizational policies that are designed to mitigate inequalities like employment equity, or diversity initiatives. My colleagues and I have found that prejudice, justice beliefs, and beliefs about the cause of societal inequality interact to affect whether people support programs that aim to reduce inequality.