After completing my PhD in 1975 at the University of Wisconsin, I joined the social area of the Rutgers Psychology Department. My research and teaching interests encompass the following topics: (1) application of social cognition to intergroup relations, (2) relationship between time sense and consciousness, and (3) the history of psychology.
Most of my research has focused on the application of social cognition (mental construction of the social world) to an understanding of prejudice and stereotyping. Factors that I have studied include the effects of social categorization on identity and bias, tactics to reduce bias (e.g., individuation of outgroup members), context effects on the use of stereotypes (e.g., salience of one or multiple outgroups), and the role of anxiety in mediating the impact of information about other groups. My underlying thesis has been that some bias is a virtually inevitable, albeit undesirable, outcome of the process by which we cognitively organize our social world in search of a positive self-identity.
A second avenue of work that I have recently begun concerns psychological time (as distinguished from the mechanical, physical time of a clock). Perception of time is not constant but rather appears to be correlated with mental activity and may be viewed as a creation of the mind rather than an entity that exists independent of us. I am particularly interested in the link between time perception and self-consciousness.
Teaching a course on the history of psychology has sown interest in theories and explanations of human behavior that have been offered by psychologists, philosophers, and playwrights for centuries before psychology was established as an independent discipline. Although I am not actively involved in researching the history of psychology, I find it a valuable context in which to place and evaluate my work and that of my colleagues.