Heather is a second-year graduate student in Social Psychology at the University of Toledo. She holds a B.A. from Marietta College. Her research interests include: social comparison, social status, health, health communication, culture, and inter-group relations. Outside of academics, Heather enjoys running, hiking, traveling, and volunteering at Adelante - a local initiative to increase the health and well-being of Latinos in the Toledo area.
Lindsay is a first-year graduate student in Social Psychology at the University of Toledo. She holds a B.A. from Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne. Her research interests include normative influence, person perception, attitudes, and motivation. Outside of academics, Lindsay enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her dog.
Barbara Scherzer (Nagel)
Erin is a first-year graduate student in Social Psychology at the University of Toledo. She holds a B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University. Her research interests include social comparison, disordered eating, and college adjustment. Outside of academics, Erin enjoys creative writing, biking, and spending time with friends.
Here are some of the major thematic areas and research questions that my lab explores:
1. Social Comparison and Comparative Judgment
In this line of research, we are interested in understanding the process and consequences of comparing ourselves to different social comparative standards, such as other people in our environments (e.g., friends, co-workers) or idealized models (e.g., religious figures). Here are some relevant research questions:
What types of comparison standards are most meaningful when people make decisions? For example, when a person is considering whether to increase their amount of exercise, do they place more emphasis on how their amount of exercise compares to their peers (descriptive), the amount recommended by health experts (prescriptive), or their own goals (personal)?
When and why are people more concerned about their social comparative risk for a health threat (i.e., whether their risk level is above or below average) vs. their absolute risk for the health threat (i.e., whether their risk level is low or high).
Why, and under what conditions, are people egocentric when judging themselves relative to various comparative standards?
2. Predictions & Expectations
In this line of research, we are interested in how developing an expectation (e.g., about the effectiveness of a medical treatment) or making a prediction (e.g., about which of two candidates will win the election) affects how people process information in their environments and experience an outcome. Here are some relevant research questions:
How does making a treatment choice (e.g., about an active or inactive medication) affect expectations for the effectiveness of that treatment on a person’s symptoms? Also, how does this process impact the symptoms actually experienced?
What types of people benefit most from making choices about their treatments?
How does predicting an outcome (e.g., picking Candidate A to win the election) affect people’s search strategies for the information and their confidence about the prediction?
3. Norm Perception and Influence
In this line of research, we are interested in exploring nuances related to different types of social norms (e.g., descriptive, prescriptive, personal), in terms of how they interrelate, and how they impact judgments and decisions. Here are some relevant research questions:
In relation to the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), are certain types of norms most predictive of people’s intentions to donate blood? For instance, are people’s intentions to donate best predicted by whether their peers donate (descriptive), whether other people think they should donate (prescriptive), or their own moral beliefs about the importance of donating (personal)? Also, does the impact of the norms depend upon past experience with donation?
What are the conditions under which descriptive and prescriptive norms are most influential for emotions, judgments, decisions, and behaviors? Do descriptive and prescriptive norm information interact/combine to shape these consequences?
4. Individual and Cultural Differences in Judgments and Decisions
In this line of research, we investigate individual and cultural differences in the context of judgment and decision making.
Does the degree of interhemispheric connectivity (assessed via strength of handedness) impact 1) social comparison processes and biases, 2) sensitivity to social comparative information, and 3) perspective-taking abilities?
Is Decision-Making Competence (DMC)—an individual difference measure reflecting a person’s consistency and accuracy across a number of judgment and decision-making tasks—a valid instrument for predicting real-world outcomes in children?
Do people in interdependent cultures (e.g., East Asia) differ from people in independent cultures (e.g., United States) in their social comparison biases and sensitivity to social comparative information?