Research Expertise and Interest
gender, negotiations, stereotypes, decision making, mindsets, motivated cognition
Laura Kray is a social and organizational psychologist who studies the intrapersonal and interpersonal processes impacting how individuals perform in mixed-motive contexts involving both cooperation and competition for scarce resources. Broadly speaking, her research examines how cognition, motivation, and identity intersect to guide behavior. I develop and test theories about the processes through which gender stereotypes, or beliefs about immutable differences between women and men as social groups, help to maintain inequality by justifying the status quo. She also studies how mindsets, or implicit theories about the fixedness versus mutability of human characteristics, influence attitudes, behavior, and, ultimately, performance. Her research seeks to advance human welfare by identifying and removing the obstacles that prevent women from experiencing the same treatment and being given the same opportunities as men in the workplace. Much of her research focuses specifically on the role that the interpersonal process of negotiation does (and does not) play in the maintenance of gender inequality. She also explores how cultural expectations around masculinity place pressures on men to win by any means necessary, leaving men especially vulnerable to ethical lapses in business contexts as a (misguided) way of proving their masculinity. By examining the psychological factors that influence how scarce resources are allocated, her research sheds light on the interpersonal power dynamics underlying societal-level differences between distinct social groups.