Ph.D. Social Psychology (2011); Minor in Quantitative Psychology (2008), University of Kansas
M.A. Social Psychology, University of Kansas (2007)
B.A. Psychology; Minor in Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004
My research focuses on stereotyping, prejudice, and social judgment with an emphasis on intersections of social categories. In my primary line of research I investigate the effects of prototypical standards of race and gender on social perceptions and judgments of individuals. Specifically I am interested in understanding the processes and outcomes of invisibility as a unique form of discrimination that may be experienced by groups that do not fit race and gender prototypes – e.g., Black women (Sesko & Biernat, 2010; Biernat & Sesko, 2013; Sesko & Biernat, under revision for resubmission). I conceptualize invisibility as a lack of individuation of or lack of differentiation among group members (Sesko & Biernat, 2010). For example, I argue invisibility is evident in perceivers’ treatment of Black women as interchangeable and indistinguishable, such that their individual voices and faces go unnoticed and unheard compared to their more prototypical counterparts (Sesko & Biernat, 2010). In my most recent line of work, I focus on the relative invisibility of American Indians and Alaska Natives that occurs when a group representation is outdated or erroneous. Specifically, I examine how historical representations within what I call “cultural tourism” (or the selling and/or commodification of culture) lead to the downgrading of Alaska Natives’ engagement in intelligent and contemporary related behaviors, but also to a reduction in use of negative “contemporary” stereotypes (vs. “historically placed” negative stereotypes).
Other lines of research include investigating 1) evidentiary standards of judgments of racism (e.g., how much and what kind of evidence is required to diagnose racism in different groups), 2) evidentiary standards for workplace performance criteria based on group membership—Black/White men/women, Alaska Native women/men), 3) the language people use to talk about members of stereotyped groups, and interpreters’ translation of this language (Biernat & Sesko, 2013b; Biernat, Villicana, Sesko, & Zhao, under review), 4) social judgment and behavioral indicators of compensatory stereotyping, or tradeoffs between “warmth” and “competence” in evaluations of members of stereotyped groups (e.g., Biernat, Sesko, & Amo, 2009), and 5) how experiences of being powerful (or powerless) affect behavioral inclinations towards, and perceptions of, sexual harassment among police officers. All of these areas reflect my interest in understanding the processes by which stereotypes guide judgment and behavior toward individual members of stereotyped groups. I have additional interests in the study of close relationships, and have examined the role of attachment style on lying and authenticity in relationships (Gillath, Sesko, Shaver, & Chen, 2010) as well as relationship-related regrets (Schoemann, Gillath, & Sesko, 2012). I am also a member of the Center for Policing Equity (CPE; http://cpe.psych.ucla.edu/), a group that brings together police chiefs and social scientists to discuss how social science can inform real-world problems of racial profiling, immigration, and organizational equity.
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)