USC Social Psychology Brownbag Series

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The USC Social Psychology Brownbag Series is a set of informal hour long lectures given each semester by invited speakers to members of the USC Social Psychology department and other members of the academic community who are interested in attending.


Current Schedule

Sept 10 -- Paul Adler (USC Management)


Large-scale collective creativity requires formal coordination mechanisms. This paper explores the kind of individual motivation needed in these settings, where individual contributors need simultaneously to display creativity and to embrace the demands of formal coordination. Creativity depends on intrinsic motivation and on values that honor divergent thinking, whereas embracing formal coordination requires subordination to organizational controls and values that honor conforming to organizational constraints and serving collective goals. We use two concepts -- perceived locus of causality and self-construal – to show how these apparently conflicting motivational orientations can be simultaneously sustained.

Oct 22 -- Valerie Folkes (USC Marketing)

The title of my talk is "Perceptions of Organizations with Counterstereotypical Employees: Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gender Diverse Workforce"

I will describe laboratory experiments that examine students' perceptions of an organization that employs counterstereotypical individuals. The research is novel in identifying how various gender compositions (e.g., a solo woman employee, a majority of women) influence perceptions of the group's competence as well as traits attributed to the group as a whole. I will identify conditions in which employing women in stereotypically male occupations can enhance perceptions of the organization and change prescriptive traits for the occupation, as well as conditions in which employing women seems to have a deleterious effects on perceptions of the organization.

Oct 29 -- Ravi Iyer (USC Social Psychology)

"Hypermoralism - When moral principles outweigh concern for others"

I will present data from specifically focusing on those individuals who believe that loyalty or purity are more important than not harming others, according to the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. I'll also present some general findings from the website and what I've learned about large scale internet data collection.

Nov 5 -- Stephen Read (USC Social Psychology)

Modeling Cognitive Dissonance using A Neural Network Model

Stephen J. Read ( Department of Psychology, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061

Brian M. Monroe ( Department of Psychology, University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061


We present a recurrent (feedback) neural network model of both short and long term attitude change resulting from cognitive dissonance. Previous recurrent network models lacked learning and could only model short-term attitude change by activation changes. In response, Van Overwalle and Jordens (2002) presented a feed forward model, with delta rule learning, to capture long-term attitude change by weight changes. However, their model cannot “reason” from inconsistent behavior to a new attitude, but instead has to be explicitly taught its new attitude. Further, the theoretical assumptions of their model are quite different from those assumed in Cognitive Dissonance Theory. The present model overcomes the weaknesses of previous approaches. It is a multi-layer, recurrent network that propagates changes from inconsistent behavior to associated attitudes, allowing the network to “reason” backwards to a new attitude and capture short-term attitude change in terms of activation change. Such processes are consistent with the coherence based, Gestalt foundations of dissonance theory. And our model uses Contrastive Hebbian Learning, which can handle learning in multi-layer networks, to capture long-term attitude change by weight change.

Nov 12 -- Peter Carnevale (USC Management)

Brownbag title: The Value of Property: Group and Culture Effects, and Negotiation

Presenter: Peter Carnevale, USC Marshall School of Business

Synopsis: The data to be presented indicate that property is imbued with human feelings and sentiments, and that the human experience of being in a group, and culture, can be a source of these feelings and sentiments. Thus culture can influence negotiation via its impact on property, which often is the basis of negotiation. In addition, the data suggest a "group endowment effect" that has a cultural and social identity basis.

Nov 19 -- Margaret Shih (RAND)

"Challenging Race: The multiracial experience and susceptibility to racial stereotypes".

Summary of talk:

The talk examines the relationship between theories about the basis of racial categories and susceptibility to racial stereotypes. I present four studies examining the impact of race salience and stereotypes on the academic performance of multiracial and monoracial participants.

Information for speakers

Brownbag talks are 1 hour long talks from noon to 1pm given in SGM 807. Please arrive a few minutes before your talk so that we can help get you settled. We provide a projector and can optionally provide a laptop for power point presentations. Talks are usually informal and presentation of empirical results is especially valued.

As a thank you, we usually take speakers to lunch afterwards.

Please contact or with any questions.

Previous speakers

Spring 2007 -

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