Culture, Diversity, and Psychophysiology Lab

What We Study

In the CDP lab, we address these and related questions by examining cultural divides—i.e., when people's cultural norms are inconsistent with the prevailing norms of organizations and institutions.  

We use multiple methodologies, including laboratory-based experiments, internet-based surveys, field studies, and content analysis of cultural products. Our lab adopts a model of stress in which we differentiate "good stress" and "bad stress" using a combination of self-reported cognitions and emotions, overt behavior, and cardiovascular and hormonal reactivity. 

We examine the negative consequences of cultural divides and develop interventions aimed at bridging these divides and reducing opportunity gaps. Check out "Publications" to learn more about our recent work.

Who We Are

Principal Investigator

Sarah Townsend is an Associate Professor of Management and Organization. Her research focuses on how socially and culturally constructed beliefs shape (1) how people from different groups interact with each other and thrive (or flounder) within various organizational settings, and (2) how we can intervene to increase all people’s ability to succeed. Using a multi-method approach to examine stress and performance, she measures people's cardiovascular and hormonal responses along with their self-reported thoughts and emotions and their overt behavior. 

Lab Manager

Liz Quinn received her B.S. in Psychology from Northwestern University in 2018. She currently works as a Research Coordinator at the USC Marshall School of Business, and is an incoming graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying social psychology. Liz is interested in understanding how people come to understand and respond to the social identities of those around them. 

Graduate Students

Mindy Truong received her B.S. in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego in 2014. She’s currently a second-year Ph.D. student in the Management and Organization department at the USC Marshall School of Business where she previously worked as the research coordinator/lab manager for two years. She’s interested in how people's backgrounds affect the way they think, feel, and behave. More specifically, she is interested in how people's social class backgrounds and ideological beliefs influence their organizational outcomes.

Andrea Villafuerte is a Ph.D. student in the Management and Organization department at the USC Marshall School of Business. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Before joining USC, she worked as a research coordinator at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. She is interested in understanding how our own identities, as well as our hierarchy and diversity beliefs, shape our understanding of inequality and intergroup relations.

Research Assistants

Veronica Perry received her B.A. in Communication from CSU, Sacramento in 2016. She is currently a second-year master’s student in the Communication Management program at USC Annenberg. She is interested in understanding how stress affects employee well-being and productivity. More specifically, she is interested in how organizations can facilitate cultures and environments where employees are able to develop resilience and recover quicker from adversity. She is also interested in how Social Learning Theory can be applied in organizations to increase an employee’s ability to bounce back from hardship, improve their mental health and fortify their well-being. 

Briana Pelayo is a sophomore at USC studying Psychology and Sociology. After graduation, she plans on attending graduate school for Psychology or social work. Through her involvement in the Prison Education Project, she hopes to change the way society views incarcerated individuals. She is particularly interested in the social environment and its impact on individual behavior, and the field of Criminal Justice. She hopes to learn more about the psychology of criminal behavior and power dynamics in the prison system. Her other interests include traveling, hiking, and exploring interesting and new food joints with friends.

Jamie Lin is a sophomore at USC majoring in Psychology with a minor in Marketing. Coming from Taiwan with an international background, she is interested in the power language has over interactions across groups. She loves music and movies, and hopes to conduct consumer research in the future.

Ian Sotomayer is double majoring in Psychology and Philosophy and is minoring in Religion. He will be graduating with the class of 2021, and is currently a junior. He has taken Dr. Sarah Townsend as a mentor for USC's Psychology Department's Honors Program, and also works as an intern at a mental health residential home. Ian enjoys hiking, exploring, drinking coffee, and having talks about anything ranging from human behavior to emotions to debates about morality.

Ken Murakami  is a Junior majoring in Cognitive Science. He is passionate about campus equity and inclusion as well as mental health promotion. He plans to pursue further education in either clinical psychology or psychiatry. In his free time he enjoys singing with his a cappella group (UnderSCore), visiting botanical gardens, hiking, cooking, and gardening. He's also lived in Houston, TX, Cleveland, OH, and Tokyo, Japan.

Lucy Sun is a junior at USC majoring in History. She's interested in how people's beliefs and backgrounds affect their decisions and behavior both within a historical context and in the present day. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Los Angeles, being outdoors, and learning new languages.

Lab Alumni

Nickolas Wrobleski, former research assistant, masters student at the Harvard Divinity School

Hridee Patel, former research assistant, tech consultant at Ernst & Young

Amanda Katz, former research assistant, medical scribe at Exer More Than Urgent Care

Hannah Greenberg, former research assistant, equity research analyst at Barclays

Yuefan Sun, former research assistant, PhD student at Harvard

Stephanie Smallets, former PhD student, specialist at McKinsey & Company

Brittany Torrez, former lab manager, PhD student at Yale School of Management


Fall 2019

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