2020 Summer Research Projects
Faculty Member: Angela Bahns | Student Fellow: Olivia Postel | Civil disagreement: Embracing thought diversity in friendship
This project will explore the costs and benefits of thought diversity in friendship. We will consider whether thought diversity can be advantageous for fostering intergroup understanding across moral and political divides. Research shows diverse friendships can effectively reduce prejudice, although similarity is a powerful predictor of friendship choices. When left to do what is easy or comfortable, by and large people choose to be friends with others who are like them. Professor Bahns' own work shows that people with positive diversity beliefs are more likely to have diverse friends, at least when “diverse” is defined in terms of race/ethnicity or sexual orientation. However, her research also finds that people who have positive diversity beliefs are even more likely to share attitudes and values with their friends. While many people actively avoid areas of potential disagreement in conversation with friends, others embrace disagreement and seek out opportunities to debate moral or political issues. Perhaps those who lean in to disagreement see the exchange as an opportunity for learning and growth, or perhaps they find disagreement intellectually stimulating. An initial goal of the project is to define the construct “embracing disagreement” as an individual difference measure, and to map out the psychological profile of people who are high and low on embracing disagreement. Next, the project will investigate whether individual differences in embracing disagreement predict friendship outcomes such as having friends with different social values or political beliefs; and closeness, intimacy, and satisfaction.
Faculty Member: Julie Norem | Student Fellow: Mohan (Iris) Li | Connecting Self-concept and Personality
This project will be looking at the content of self-knowledge and its relations with other aspects of personality. A special focus will be on the self-concepts of those who score high on the Impostor phenomenon. Professor Norem and her research assistant will look at three datasets from three different time periods that include data from different cohorts of Wellesley students. Analyses from the 1990's suggest that gender role conflicts were especially salient in the self-concepts of those with strong impostor feelings during that time. They will be exploring whether gender remains salient in relation to impostor feelings for later cohorts, including those from 2005-2006, and those from 2012, and 2016-2018. They will also look for other patterns in the ways that the self-knowledge of impostors differs from those who do not feel like impostors.
Faculty Member: Stephen Chen | Student Fellow: Grace Chang | Stress, Development, and Well-Being in Asian American immigrant families
The Culture and Family Development Lab examines how cultural and family processes shape development and well-being across the lifespan. SSSRP participants will have the opportunity to participate in two ongoing projects in the lab.
First, the Family Development Project is a longitudinal study of stress and well-being in Chinese American immigrant families. Specifically, the project examines how stressors related to immigration and acculturation impact the well-being of Chinese American immigrant families. SSSRP participants would be involved in multiple aspects of the project, including data entry, coding and transcription of multilingual family interviews, and analysis of health-related data (BMI). Specific projects will be assigned based on students' previous experience and language proficiency.
Second, the lab is expanding our investigation of culture, stress and well-being to under-represented Asian American ethnic groups and AA high school and college students who are the first in their family to attend college. SSSRP participants have the opportunity to be involved in the preliminary stages of this investigation through literature reviews, analysis of large-scale datasets, and the development of research protocols for middle, high school, and college-age populations.
Faculty Member: Kyung Park | Student Fellows: Vanessa Ntungwanayo & Cindy Zhao | The Role of Speech Patterns in Racial and Gender Discrimination
The goal of this project is to examine the role that speech patterns play in racial and gender discrimination. We would like a student to conduct an extensive literature review on this topic. The literature would span multiple disciplines. The student would then help us use this information to help to craft an experimental design that would allow us to parse out the role of speech more rigorously. This is joint work with Olga Shurchkov.
Faculty Member: Pinar Keskin | Student Fellow: Soumaya Dammak | Thirsty Factories, Hungry Farmers: Intersectoral Impacts of Industrial Water Demand
Professor Keskin is an applied micro-economist focusing on public policy issues, with a particular emphasis on issues of gender, ethnicity and resource access in developing countries. This summer she, along with her coauthor, plan on analyzing a recently acquired data set to investigate the impacts of industrial water use directly on groundwater scarcity and indirectly on day-to-day decisions of rural farmers in India.
Developing countries, governments, and international organizations have been promoting industrialization as a necessary component of the structural change that is part of economic development. However, many scholars have concerns about the sustainability of industrialization. The economics literature has so far focused on input-output linkages and labor movements as the two primary mechanisms through which industrialization and industrial policies (such as trade policies and anti-trust law) can affect the agricultural sector. Professor Keskin seeks to examine a natural-resource link between industry and agriculture, both theoretically and empirically. In particular, we will introduce water as an additional channel through which industrial policies affect agricultural production decisions. The premise is that industrialization may hurt agricultural productivity since farmers compete with industry for an important resource, i.e. water.
Faculty Member: Kartini Shastry | Student Fellow: Tara Kuruvila | Foreign Aid and Vaccination Coverage Rates
Faculty Member: Beth DeSombre | Student Fellow: Kelsey Dunn | Post-policy system evolution / Green Port governance
There are two projects Professor DeSombre will be working on:
1) Post-policy system evolution – book project that examines how environmental regulation, once adopted, sets up systemic changes that frequently make policies easier and cheaper to implement than initially predicted. General social science background necessary (economics and political science especially helpful along knowledge of environmental issues); student will gain archival and data analysis skills, along with working on reviews of the relevant academic literature and working to identify and gather information on case studies.
2) Green Port governance -- Ports have come to play an important role in governing shipping. They are frequently the location where national or international rules can be enforced on ships, and ports occasionally impose rules beyond those required by their states, including those relating to sustainability. Ports have also, for their own reasons, decided to provide incentives to ships that adopt various private governance measures and some ports have taken measures to make their own options more environmentally sustainable. This study examines environmental governance measures adopted or enforced by the busiest 200+ ports around the world, during the period from 2005-2018, characterizing which greening measures ports take on (or do not) and when. The ultimate goal is to examine a variety of characteristics of ports and their contexts to determine what leads ports to adopt which types of greening measures.
Faculty Member: Soo Hong | Student Fellows: Katharine Conklin, Ayla Han, & Haeli Warren | Essential Understandings: New Teachers' Beliefs About Family and Community
As new teachers prepare for their work in the classroom, how do they describe their experiences, expectations, and challenges in connecting with students' families? What kinds of beliefs do new teachers hold about students' families and communities and the role they play in supporting the academic development of their children? The Hong research team has been exploring these questions over the past year through a pilot study focused on in-depth interviews of elementary and secondary teacher education candidates. This summer, the research team will complete the data analysis for the pilot study and launch the two-year study by recruiting new participants, finalizing research instruments, and beginning a new round of data collection with new study participants.
Faculty Member: Chipo Dendere | Student Fellows: Rahwa Michael & Vicky Ncube | Explaining the impact of party survival on authoritarianism
This summer we will continue work on my book book project on two fronts - analyzing the HIV mortality data and making the connection to party survival as well as conducting a deep dive into 300 interviews that need to be sorted and coded.
Faculty Member: Sun-Hee Lee | Student Fellow: Michelle Lee | Creating the Image of North Korean Defects in Media
This research project provides a data-driven critical discourse analysis of public discourse regarding North Korean Defectors (NKDs). The analysis examines how media functions to formulate the identity of NKDs and stereotypes/prejudices through linguistic representations. Professor Lee is planning to explore the representation of NKDs in the western newspapers and broadcasted news as well as Korean newspapers published in English including Korea Times and Korea Herald. The data is built by collecting texts from various online newspaper articles. In addition to building news corpus focusing on NKDs, the study adopts a relatively new approach combining a quality-based analysis of historical and socio-political contexts and a quantity-based methodology using computational and statistical tools. The outcomes of the study will explicate how media employs language to represent this new minority group with a focus on whether there are different attitudes between the Western vs. the South Korean media, different media genres (pressed newspapers vs. broadcast TV news), and different groups of population, and whether there have been changes over time. Furthermore, the outcomes are expected to reveal empirical issues and challenges not only for current South Korean society and its inclusion of NKDs, but also for the progress of the North Korean human rights.
Faculty Member: Sabriya Fisher | Student Fellow: Jiahui Zhang | Local Attitudes Towards Boston Speech
Faculty Member: Jennifer Chudy | Student Fellow: Sasha Blachman | Racial Sympathy in Americal Politics