Robert L. Wilson Professor Distinguished of Sociology, Professor of Sociology, and Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
I study emotion, identity, and action. I’m interested in the basic question of how identities affect social interaction. I use experimental, observational, survey and simulation methods to describe how identities, actions and emotions are interrelated. The experiments I do usually involve creating social situations where unusual things happen to people, then seeing how they respond behaviorally or emotionally. I observe small task group interactions to see how identities influence conversational behavior. My survey work often focuses on gender and other social positions that influence the groups and networks in which people are imbedded. My simulations studies involve affect control theory, a mathematical model of how identities, actions and emotions affect one another. Now, I’m putting affect control theory together with McPherson’s ecological theory of affiliation to show how social systems, identities, and emotional experience are connected.