Chang, J., Chow, R. M., & Woolley, A. (2017). The effects of inter-group status on the pursuit of intra-group status. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 139, 1-17. [Paper]

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This research examines how the status of one’s group influences intra-group behavior and collective outcomes. Two experiments provide evidence that, compared to members of low-status groups, members of high-status groups are more concerned about their intra-group standing, which in turn can increase both the likelihood of competitive and cooperative intra-group behavior. However, whether the desire for intra-group standing manifests via competitive versus cooperative behavior depends on the relevance of the task to the group’s inter-group standing. When the task is not relevant to the group’s status, members of high-status groups are more likely to engage in competitive behavior out of a desire to manage their intra-group status, which, in turn, leads to less desirable collective outcomes. However, when the group’s status is at stake, members of high-status groups seek intra-group status via cooperative behavior, leading to better collective outcomes.

Chow, R. M & Knowles, E. D. (2016). Taking race off the table: Agenda setting and support for color-blind public policy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 42, 25-39. [Paper]

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Whites are theorized to support color-blind policies as an act of racial agenda setting—an attempt to defend the existing hierarchy by excluding race from public and institutional discourse. The present analysis leverages work distinguishing between two forms of social dominance orientation: passive opposition to equality (SDO–E) and active desire for dominance (SDO–D) (Ho et al., 2012). We hypothesized that agenda setting as a subtle hierarchy-maintenance strategy would be uniquely tied to high levels of SDO–E. When made to believe that the hierarchy was under threat, Whites high in SDO–E increased their endorsement of color-blind policy (Study 1), particularly when the racial hierarchy was framed as ingroup advantage (Study 2), and became less willing to include race as a topic in a hypothetical presidential debate (Study 3). Across studies, Whites high in SDO–D showed no affinity for agenda setting as a hierarchy-maintenance strategy.

Chang, J., Turan, N. & Chow, R. M. (2015). A desire for extremity: The influence of leader normativeness and inter-group competition on group member support. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 36-49.


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Group members typically prefer leaders who have characteristics or attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., are normative). In this paper, we explore the possibility that in highly competitive inter-group contexts, group members prefer leaders who can more effectively differentiate the in-group from out-groups, leading to a preference for leaders with more extreme attitudes that are in line with group norms (i.e., pro-normative). In three experiments conducted in an election context in the United States, we find that both Democrats’ and Republicans’ preference for an extreme leader increases under conditions of high inter-group competition. Results indicate that participants’ heightened need to differentiate their political party from the competing party drives this effect, and that this effect is stronger for those who identify strongly with their political party. Implications for group members’ responses to in-group deviance and leadership support are discussed.

Knowles, E. D., Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., & Unzueta, M. M. (2014). Deny, distance, or dismantle? How White Americans manage a privileged identity. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 9, 594-609. [Paper]

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Social scientists have traditionally argued that whiteness—the attribute of being recognized and treated as a White person in society—is powerful because it is invisible. On this view, members of the racially dominant group have the unique luxury of rarely noticing their race or the privileges it confers. This article challenges the “invisibility thesis,” arguing that Whites frequently regard themselves as racial actors. We further argue that whiteness defines a problematic social identity that confronts Whites with two psychological threats: the possibility that their accomplishments in life were not fully earned (meritocratic threat) and the association with a group that benefits from ill-gotten and unfair social advantages (group-image threat). We theorize that Whites manage their racial identity to dispel these threats. According to our Deny, Distance, or Dismantle (3D) model of White identity management, dominant-group members have three strategies at their disposal: deny the existence of privilege, distance the self-concept from the White category, or strive to dismantle systems of privilege. Whereas denial and distancing promote insensitivity and inaction with respect to racial inequality, dismantling reduces threat by relinquishing privileges. We suggest that interventions aimed at reducing inequality should attempt to leverage dismantling as a strategy of White identity management.

Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S., & Hogan, C. M. (2013). Appeasement: Whites’ strategic support for affirmative action. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 39, 333-346. [Paper]

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This paper explores the possibility that dominant group members will attempt to appease subordinate groups to protect the hierarchy. In four studies, we find that 1) pro-hierarchy Whites perceive more inter-group threat when they believe ethnic minorities hold Whites in low regard, 2) pro-hierarchy Whites respond to ethnic minorities’ low regard for Whites by increasing their support for redistributive policies (e.g., affirmative action), 3) the increase in support only occurs when pro-hierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be unstable, and 4) pro-hierarchy Whites perceive the hierarchy to be more stable if they believe Whites support redistributive policies. These results suggest that pro-hierarchy dominant group members’ support for redistributive policies can stem from a concern about maintaining the hierarchical status quo, and provides evidence that support for redistributive policies can be a hierarchy-enhancing strategy.

Chow, R. M. & Galak, J. (2012).  The effect of inequality frames on redistributive income policy support. Psychological Science, 23, 1467-1469. [Paper]

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Although most Americans agree that wealth inequality is a pressing problem, opposition to redistributive income policies remains high, particularly among conservatives. We explore the possibility that this opposition is influenced by how income inequality is discussed: as either the poor making less than the rich or the rich making more than the poor. We find that conservatism predicted opposition to redistributive income policies when participants were told that the poor make less, but that this opposition was attenuated when participants were told that the rich make more. This effect was driven by participants’ attributions for wealth.

Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., Knowles, E. D, & Unzueta, M. M (2012).  Paying for positive group-esteem: How inequity frames affect Whites' responses to redistributive policies.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 323-336. [Paper]

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This article finds that, when faced with racial inequity framed as White advantage, Whites desire to think well of their racial group increases their support for policies perceived to harm Whites. Across 4 studies, the article provides evidence that (a) relative to minority disadvantage, White advantage increases Whites’ support for policies perceived to reduce their group’s economic opportunities, but does not increase support for policies perceived to increase minority opportunities; and (b) the effect of White advantage on Whites’ esteem for their ingroup drives the effect of inequity frame on support for policies perceived to reduce Whites’ opportunities.

Chow, R. M. & Lowery, B. S. (2010).  Thanks, but no thanks: The role of personal responsibility in the experience of gratitude.  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 487-493. [Paper]

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Current theories of gratitude suggest that individuals feel grateful when they perceive someone else to be responsible for a desired outcome. However, it is unclear whether individuals must also feel a lack of personalresponsibility in order to feel gratitude. This paper provides evidence that in achievement contexts, without the belief that they are responsible for their success, individuals do not experiencegratitude, even when they acknowledge the help they have received. In two studies, the more helpful participants thought an experimenter had been, the more grateful they felt, but only if they also spontaneously felt responsible for (Study 1) or were induced to feel responsible for (Study 2) their outcomes.

Wiltermuth, S., Monin, B., & Chow, R. M. (2010).  The orthogonality of praise and condemnation in moral judgment.  Social and Personality Psychology Science, 1, 302-310. [Paper]

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The present studies examined whether the tendency to praise others for positive (i.e., moral) behaviors correlates with the tendency to condemn others for negative (i.e., immoral) behaviors. Across three studies, factor analyses revealed that these tendencies are orthogonal. The results refute the hypothesis that simply caring deeply about morality leads individuals to praise moral behaviors and condemn immoral ones. The research instead suggests that individuals who are most praising of positive behavior are not necessarily those who are most condemning of negative behavior, because orthogonal conceptions of morality influence each type of judgment. Although the tendency to condemn depends on how much one personally cares about morality (internalization), the tendency to praise seems to depend on one’s public moral persona (symbolization).

Lowery, B. S., Chow, R. M., & Randall-Crosby, J. (2009).  Taking from those that have more and giving to those that have less: How inequity frames affect corrections for inequity. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 375-378. [Paper]

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Most theories of inequity focus on relativeinequity. In contrast, this paper provides evidence that individuals infer what people should have (i.e. an absolute standard) from the way inequity is described. In the reported experiment, participants give more to a subordinate actor when inequity is described in terms of “less than” rather than “more than,” and take more from a dominant actor when inequity is described in terms of “more than” rather than “less than,” even though the magnitude of inequity is constant. Mediational analyses suggest that these differences are driven by changes in individuals’ perceptions of what the actors should have (i.e. the standard). We conclude by discussing the implications for motivated perceptions of inequity and redistributive policy attitudes.

Book Chapters

Chow, R. M., Lowery, B. S., & Knowles, E. D. (2010).  To be fair or to be dominant: The effect of inequality frames on dominant group members’ responses to inequity.  In Neale, M. A., Mannix, E., & Mullen, E. (Eds.) Research on Managing Groups and Teams: Fairness and Groups.  Emerald.

Tiedens, L. Z., Chow, R. M., & Unzueta, M. M. (2007). Complementary contrast and assimilation: Interpersonal theory and the social functions of contrast and assimilation effects. In D. Stapel & J. Suls (Eds.) The Social Psychology of Contrast and Assimilation. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Manuscripts under review and preparation

Turan, N. & Chow, R. M., & Weingart, L. R. (revise & resubmit). Your cost or my benefit? : Effects of concession frames in distributive negotiations.

Chow, R. M., Bhatia, N., & Campbell, E. (under review). How White Americans choose to talk about racial inequality.

Mayo, A. T., Woolley, A. W. & Chow, R. M. (under review). The counteracting effects of gender diversity in expertise use: Disentangling participation and influence.

Woolley, A. W., Chow, R. M., Mayo, A. T., & Chang, J. W. (working paper). The effect of hierarchy and gender composition on teams’ collective intelligence.

Galak, J. & Chow, R. M. (working paper). Compensate a little, but punish a lot: Asymmetric routes to restoring justice.

Research in progress

Chow, R. M, Campbell, E., & Diabes, M. A theoretical model of gender and sponsorship.

Bhatia, N. & Chow, R. M. The effect of emphasizing helper costliness or recipient benefit in eliciting helping behavior.