Projects in the Lab

Honor, Emotion, Motivation

Honor cultures encourage people to be concerned with their social image. We study three different aspects of honor cultures. First, we study how individuals who value honor respond emotionally to being disrespected or respected by others. Our studies on honor and disrespect focus on the emotions of shame and anger and the behaviors of confrontation and withdrawal. Because honor should also be associated with positive emotions, we are also investigating how and when honor promotes happiness and well-being.

Second, we study family honor — the collective social image that members of a family share. We compare cultures that vary in honor orientation (e.g., Pakistanis and European-Americans) and measure emotional responses to disrespect of one’s family.

Third, we also investigate how women experience honor. To date, women’s honor has mostly been studied in relation to how it affects men’s honor. We are interested in how women themselves practice honor inside and outside of the family and the emotions they feel when their honor is enhanced or threatened.

Social Image and Emotion in Social Relations

Our work on social image does not only focus on honor cultures. We study emotion and social image in close interpersonal relationships and in societal relations. In interpersonal relationships, we are especially interested in the match between one’s
perceived social image (e.g., how you think a friend thinks of you) and one’s actual social image (e.g., how your friend actually thinks of you). In a related line of research, we study how a concern for social image affects emotional responses to success, with a particular interest in the fear of envy. Outperforming another has both positive and negative implications. On the one hand, we may enjoy our success. On the other hand, we may worry about how less successful others think and feel about us. As a consequence, we are willing to engage in strategies (e.g., complimenting the other) to manage the envy that our success encourages in others.

Within a society, stereotypes and prejudice can establish a group’s social image. Given the recent rise of Islamophobia, Muslims in America and in Europe must face the negatime image that others have of them.Thus, we are examining Muslims’ anger, sadness, and fear about their social image in American, British, and Danish society. For example, we have gathered autobiographical experiences of unfair treatment among Muslim Americans. We have also asked Muslim Americans about their concerns and feelings in the days prior to the 9/11 anniversary. All of our studies pay special attention to how Muslim women and men feel and respond differently to the way they and their group is viewed and treated by others. In this way, our studies try to engage the role of intersectional identities in emotional experiences.