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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 and "Contact Us" for an application to join the lab.

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. 

Ph.D. Students

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Jacob Roberson is a PhD student in the Management and Organization department at the USC Marshall School of Business. He earned his B.A. in psychology and sociology from the University of Richmond. His research interests focus on race, culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion. He is interested in developing interventions to reduce anxieties prompted by interracial interactions and race-talk in organizations. Jacob enjoys being out in the sunshine, fitness, cooking, and dancing.


Yiran Wang is a Ph.D. student in Management and Organizational the USC Marshall School of Business. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is broadly interested in intergroup relations, diversity, and inclusion in organizations along gender and social class lines. In her free time, Yiran enjoys bouldering, baking, and trying out different roasts of coffee.

Research Coordinator

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Sharon Nat is a research coordinator for the Culture, Diversity, and Psychophysiology Lab. She received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies from Loyola Marymount University. Sharon is interested in understanding how cultural divides in organizations and institutions shape people’s understanding of intergroup relations and inequality. Outside of the lab, she enjoys camping, playing beach volleyball, and reading poetry.

Honors Students


Britney Castillo is a senior at USC. She completed her honors thesis examining the impacts of diversity messages on students' feelings of inclusion.


Michelle Sung is a senior studying Psychology at USC. She is primarily interested in how inequality plays a role in educational settings, as well as the way culture affects how we perceive mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys being involved in advocacy around campus and writing about social issues. In the future, she hopes to conduct research of her own and pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology. 

Research Assistants


Athena Boyle is a junior majoring in Psychology. She is passionate about prison reform and is interested in how therapy and other forms of reform can help the aid cognitive development of youth in prisons. After graduation, she plans on studying Clinical Psychology in graduate school.


Raigan Priest is currently a second year master's student at the USC Marshall school of Business. She received a B.S. in psychology from Florida State University in 2016.  Before attending USC, she worked on creating structure and strategic plans for large or growing organizations. Raigan is interested in judgement, decision making and influence. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in organizational behavior after completing her MBA. In her spare time, Raigan is involved with a variety of female empowerment organizations. 


Grace Schwartz is a junior at USC majoring in Psychology and pursuing a Progressive Master’s Degree in Computer Science. She is interested in the intersection of race and class in the context of agency in psychiatric care, and she’s a firm believer in the need for psychiatric care reform. In her free time, she volunteers with the Prison Education Project and her local Humane Society. After graduation, Grace plans to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.


Lucy Sun is a senior 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.


Bruce Zhu is a first-year student at USC majoring in Psychology. He is interested in how cultural context affects people’s decision-making processes and behaviors and is passionate about analyzing behaviors through biological and cognitive perspectives. After graduation, he plans to study Clinical Psychology in graduate school. In his free time, he volunteers in the Joint Education Project and plays multiple sports like basketball, swimming, boxing, etc..

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Fall 2019

Lab Alumni

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

Liz Quinn, former lab manager, PhD social psychology student at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Veronica Wilson, former lab manager, applying to PhD programs

Stephanie Smallets, former PhD student, Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company

Ian Sotomayor, former research assistant, applying to PhD programs in clinical psychology

Yuefan Sun, former research assistant, PhD student at Harvard

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

Mindy Truong, former PhD student, Postdoctoral Scholar at Kellogg School of Management

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

Andrea Villafuerte, former PhD student, Associate Consultant, Hypothesis Group

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