Stefanie Stella Como

Regulatory Focus and Interethnic Interactions

Past research by Shelton, Richeson, and Salvatore (2005) has shown that minority group members feel less authentic interacting with people outside of their ethnic group than with their in-group. There are many reasons why people feel inauthentic during such interactions, but one likely part of the explanation is based on regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997). This theorizes that people interact with the world in two ways. People who are promotion focused gear themselves toward aspirations and gains; conversely, prevention focused people vigilantly avoid negative outcomes (Seibt & Forster, 2004). In my project I will test the hypothesis that stigmatized people who interact with someone outside of that group become more prevention focused and less promotion focused which leads them to modify their behavior and feel less authentic.

Message to Sponsor

The SURF program is a wonderful opportunity for me to begin my research this summer with complete focus to it and not the other financial and time stresses in life. I will use the time to run the many participants that I will need to collect the appropriate amount of data on my subject, and then use that data to create a clear picture of my findings and their further repercussions to the larger field of psychology. In addition to the research itself, getting into the SURF program has focused my attentions to the reality of beginning a large research project such as this. SURF reinforces my drive to learn and develop into a concise and persistent researcher.
  • Major: Psychology
  • Mentor: Serena Chen, Psychology