Bradley Hughes, a doctoral student in Sanjay Srivastava’s lab, was recently awarded the Wayne Morris Award & the UO dissertation research fellowship. He’s using this to fund his dissertation research on how people perceive socioeconomic status (SES) interpersonally.
Reading Michael Kraus' work on perceptions of SES drew Bradley into this research. Researchers are limited in how they measure perceptions of SES – much of the time they have participants infer SES from listening to someone’s voice or looking at pictures of faces. There is a huge amount of behavioral information, however, in face-to-face interactions, so Bradley focused on finding a way of measuring perceptions of SES through face-to-face interactions.
Now, he is bringing together people from all over the country in video chat rooms for computer mediated round robins. After discussing their experiences with consumer complaints, each person in the group guesses the other members’ SES and rates their personality. This provides rich data for Bradley to analyze the accuracy of SES judgments and the stereotypes that are associated with SES. Based on the literature and his own previous research, he expects for SES judgments to be relatively accurate. People usually associate high SES with more confidence.
Bradley has been perfecting this complex methodology – online computer mediated discussion groups – for the last four years. Not only has it been satisfying to see it up and running, but he has also enjoyed seeing people with different cultural and SES backgrounds from around the country come together for these meaningful conversations. Bradley hopes that this research will draw attention to the way in which SES influences peoples’ judgements of each other. In some situations, like hiring processes, these judgments could have a huge impact on someone’s life, so illuminating the role of SES is critical.