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Brownbag: Dr. Tessa Charlesworth (UofT, Harvard, Kellogg School of Management)

Brownbag: Dr. Tessa Charlesworth (UofT, Harvard, Kellogg School of Management)


On Monday, March 27, 2023, Dr. Tessa Charlesworth, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto and Harvard University, and incoming professor at the Kellogg School of Management presented her talk titled, “Change in attitudes and stereotypes of social groups.” at the York University Social and Personality Colloquium.

You can find more information about Dr. Charlesworth's work here and her abstract below:

Change in attitudes and stereotypes of social groups

Navigating the social world – with its wide array of intersecting and interacting social groups – is an impressive feat of human psychology. But perhaps even more impressive is our ability to adapt to an evolving social climate and to update what we think and feel about the groups around us. In this two-part talk, I will introduce my research program focused on this question of when, how, and why we change our attitudes and stereotypes of social groups. In part one, I discuss evidence for contemporary change in attitudes, using data from over 7 million responses of both explicit (self-report) and implicit (indirectly measured) attitudes collected continuously online from 2007 to 2020. Although implicit attitudes had long been thought resistant to change, the current data advance a new perspective: I show that (a) even implicit attitudes are capable of meaningful decreases in bias for some highly prioritized biases (e.g., race, sexuality), and (b) this change spans across people and places. Such an emphasis on widespread, collective change brings us to Part Two, in which I discuss new work tracking historical change in collective, shared representations of 14 social groups through 8 million English-language books across 200 years (1800-2000). The results add nuance to identifying whether, which, and in what ways social group representations have changed historically in stereotype content and valence. Ultimately, through investigations of change across multiple levels of analysis, multiple indicators of attitudes and stereotypes, and multiple group targets, the work deepens our basic and applied understanding of how we change, as individuals, in institutions, and as a broader society.