Photo of Professor Kray

Research Expertise and Interest

gender, negotiations, stereotypes, decision making, mindsets, motivated cognition

Research Description

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.

In the News

Who Flirts to Get Ahead at Work? Study Finds It’s Most Often Men in Subordinate Roles.

The stereotype of the female secretary who hikes up her skirt to get a promotion is as pervasive as the powerful male boss who makes passes at his underlings. But a new study upends both tropes with evidence that it’s actually men in subordinate positions who are most likely to flirt, use sexual innuendo, and even harass female bosses as a way to demonstrate their masculinity and power for personal gain at work.

Very big changes are coming very fast to the American workplace

Going to work used to be so simple. Across a span of decades, in organizations large and small, American white-collar workers by the millions would wake up in the morning and get to the office by 8 or 9. They would leave at 5 or 6, perhaps later if they were on deadline with an important project. It was like clockwork. Suddenly, however, that model seems outdated, if not archaic. In a series of interviews, Berkeley scholars who study work and management say that as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, American executives and office workers are emerging into a new and unfamiliar world that may have broad benefits for both.

When women are more likely to lie

Would you tell a lie to help someone else? A new study says women won’t lie on their own behalf, but they are willing to do so for someone else if they feel criticized or pressured by others.

Study Finds Flirting Can Pay Off for Women in Negotiations

When Madeleine Albright became the first female U.S. Secretary of State, she led high-level negotiations between mostly male foreign government leaders. In 2009, comedian Bill Maher asked Albright if she ever flirted on the job and she replied, “I did, I did.” Flirtatiousness, female friendliness, or the more diplomatic description “feminine charm” is an effective way for women to gain negotiating mileage.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
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