My research agenda has addressed gender differences in the accuracy of self-evaluations. I have found that while no gender differences exist in feminine and neutral domains, women underestimate their abilities in areas that are stereotyped as masculine. The original studies were experimental in nature until I decided to apply my work to real-life problems. Specifically I have spent over a decade examining why there are so few women in Computer Science and how to remedy this situation. The problem is very complex, but, as expected, inaccurately low self-evaluations are an important obstacle to women in Computer Science. Research Interests | Accomplishments | Labs | Homepage
I have focused my research efforts on the processes underlying problem solving, creativity, and intuitive decisions. In particular I have studied how insight and analytical problem solving differ. I am interested in how differences in memory, attention, and mood impact problem solving and creativity. This work has revealed some of the neural mechanisms which determine how, and if, we solve problems. I am also interested in practical applications of research. Better understanding of cognitive process could lead to improvements in education, decision making, and the design of the things we use every day.
My research interests are in vocational psychology within the broader area of counseling psychology. Vocational psychologists examine the role of work in peopleâ€™s lives and what factors help and hinder people making career choices, and how counseling interventions facilitate positive career development. Facilitating interest and skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers is an important goal for both society and individuals. In two recent projects I examined the effect of a) gender, socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity on science interests; and b) a STEM Summer Camp on math and science interests, self-confidence, and goals of middle school students. Furthermore, I work on projects that examine a) the work value priorities of young adults, and b) the influence of a career decision-making course on both career specific (such as dysfunctional thinking about making career choices) and general psychological (such as curiosity and openness to growth enhancing experiences) factors of college students. Homepage
My primary line of research addresses two related but separable questions: How do people comprehend language (talk or text) that does not directly express the speaker's intended meaning, and why do people use such language given its arguably greater likelihood for miscomprehension relative to more direct language?
The motivation for the first question is that indirect/figurative language comprehension (e.g., metaphor, sarcasm, hyperbole) poses a challenge for traditional theories of language comprehension. Given that a speaker who uses indirect/figurative language does not directly say what she intends to communicate, and yet interpreters typically readily comprehend that intended meaning, standard theories of language comprehension are often unable to explain comprehension of these forms. The reason for the second question is to test whether any benefits exist for speakers who use indirect/figurative language that offset its risk of miscomprehension.
These two questions are also intricately connected. Not only do we attempt to identify and empirically verify any potential risk-justifying benefits of using indirect/figurative language, but we also seek to explicate the mechanisms by which such language accomplishes these benefits, and, conversely, why direct language wouldn't accomplish them.
Moreover and most importantly, my work attempts to test the extent to which these mechanisms can be explained by basic cognitive, linguistic and social processes. These processes can in turn help explain how indirect/figurative language is comprehended. Research Interests | Accomplishments | Labs | Homepage
My main area of research has been focused on the interpersonal domains of personality and functioning. I have been especially interested in the interpersonal circumplex model, which has implications for how interpersonal behaviors, traits, and problems are organized and assessed. I have done work in developing methods for analyzing personality data based on circumplex measures, and for validating the structure of such measures using a variety of statistical criteria. More broadly, I have been interested in applying the circumplex model to enhance our understanding of the interpersonal domain, including adjustment and maladjustment, as well as sex differences. Recently, I have also become interested in human values priorities and relating these to interpersonal values. Research Interests | Accomplishments | Labs | Homepage
My work focuses on two fundamental aspects of cognitive development. The first is how young children scale distance across spaces that differ in size. The aim of this work is to better understand the factors that affect how children and adults use relative distance to scale location. In particular, I have examined the cues that young children and adults use when scaling distance along a single dimension (i.e., length). My second area of interest is the development of memory for location. Specifically, I am interested in how children and adults use spatial groups to remember the locations of objects. Older children and adults often organize locations into groups to help them remember large numbers of locations more effectively. One apparent cost of forming spatial groups is that people tend to think that objects belonging to the same spatial group are closer together than they really are. My work in this area aims to understand how such biases emerge both in the short time scale of an experiment and in the longer time scale of development.
In both of these areas of interest, my goal is to examine the processes by which age differences in spatial thinking emerge. This kind of analysis requires understanding both what the child (or adult) brings to the task and what environmental structure is available. As such, my theoretical approach emphasizes the dynamic, emergent properties of spatial thinking. Research Interests | Accomplishments | Labs | Homepage