Wendi Gardner Associate Professor
The social self; belonging; emotion
My primary research interests concern the centrality of social inclusion to the self. In one line of work in the lab, we are particularly interested in the ways in which belonging needs are regulated through mental processes and behaviors likely to result in increased social inclusion (e.g., increased attention to others and enhanced sensitivity to emotional facial expressions and vocal tones) as well as by cognitive strategies designed to make the individual feel socially connected, regardless of their actual level of inclusion (e.g., inflating the closeness of one's interpersonal attachments, or looking at one's past group interactions through rose colored glasses). In another line, we examine the ways in which indiviudals define the self socially (e.g., through defining the self in terms of relationships and groups) as a function of culture, gender, social needs, and situational cues. Whether the self is defined in an individual or independent fashion or alternatively in a social or interdependent fashion, determines the types of strategies and standards used for self-regulation. Our lab studies flexibility across these different views of the self, and the functionality of each type of self-construal in different situations.