From November 6th and November 13th, the Psychology department invited three candidates in the process of hiring a new psychology professor. These candidates, Candidates A, B, and C, held a total of 6 presentations with two talks from each person, one of the talks being their teaching demonstration and the other being their research program. The purpose of these talks was not only to find a new professor it was also a chance for students to expand their knowledge and horizons on different topics within the psychology field.
I was able to attend three of these talks, two of them being one candidate’s teaching demonstration and research program. Candidate A is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College who now is a practicing social psychologist, particularly in subjects regarding gender and sexual minority health. Through both of these talks, she highlighted her work on scoping out discrimination in healthcare on structural and interpersonal levels while also advocating for methods on how to educate about minority groups and therefore limit bias in the healthcare system.
On November 9th, Candidate A gave her teaching demonstration titled “From Awareness to Impact: Understanding and Intervening on LGBTQ+ Stigma.” In her presentation, she talked about stigmatized identities, ranging from structural, intrapersonal, and interpersonal forms of stigma and bias specifically in regard to LGBTQ+ identities. These range from discrimination in the workplace, among social groups and cultures, as well as internalized homophobia people of sexual minorities can adopt because of this discrimination. She also taught us the concept of the minority stress model, which is where members of stigmatized social groups are more prone to accumulate and face more stress in their lives. Because of this, these groups may tend to avoid the healthcare system and are more likely to have lower self-esteem, depression, and or anxiety.
To try and eliminate these stigmas and biases, she proposed that we adopt more methods of social safety. Social safety is providing more reliable social connections, belongingness, inclusion, protection, and so on for groups of sexual and gender minorities. In the latter half of the talk, she put the class into different groups to come up with a hypothetical plan to propose to F&M how to make the school a safer and acceptable environment for the LGBTQ+ community. I personally really liked this message of the talk, as we had to incorporate these ideas of safety and eliminating bias into tangible and possible outcomes that would have a better impact on our community. This is especially important to consider to elevate and protect minorities on campus.
In her presentation the next day on November 10th, Candidate A spoke on her research program titled “Unspoken Suffering: Pervasive Race and Gender Biases in the Nonverbal Perception of Other’s Pain.” Her research consisted of capturing nonverbal behavior within different categories of identities to see if there was any bias or stereotypes about pain levels from any groups presented. This is otherwise known as the Pain Perception Bias, and it occurs when people respond differently to presentations of pain from people of different social categories.
The research was conducted by participants getting pain stimuli and different groups of people rating their pain scale. Candidate A’s hypothesis was proven correct that People of Color and women would have their pain underestimated more than White people and men. She claimed that research proves that these biases are likely to contribute to the undertreatment of pain in healthcare. For future steps, she would want to incorporate behavioral training within the healthcare system to understand existing race bias and how to mitigate it.
I personally enjoyed these two presentations given by Candidate A. It expanded my knowledge and thoughts on topics relating to both racial and gender stereotypes and biases. She also gave tangible evidence through research that these biases can, unfortunately, continue to prevail in various social settings, but she also gave a hopeful look into the future with methods on how to reduce these biases and stereotypes to make our communities safer. Many thanks to the psychology department for providing all of these presentations!
Sophomore Gab Neal is a Staff Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org