Bringing It All Together

With the end of summer came the end of  running participants and data analysis. Now that it is over, it is time to bring the whole research together and prepare a presentation for the end of September. This means reading various literature on previous findings and long hours spent in lab working with the professor.

Previous work in Prof. Dickter’s lab has shown that people use contextual cues to categorize race (Dickter, Newton, Gyurovski, & Gagnon, 2011). This summer, our research expanded on that previous research by including stereotypic primes and examining their effects on the categorization of biracial faces. We did find that the primes definitely affected how the participants categorized the biracial face. For example, if a negative black stereotype prime was presented, participants categorized the biracial face as black; if a positive white stereotype prime was presented, participants categorized the biracial face as white.

As I said before, I was mainly helping a graduate student with her research. The graduate student and Prof. Dickter have written the manuscript bringing together the results of the many studies conducted. My next step is to prepare the presentation for the results of the study I was involved with. I am meeting with my professor soon to discuss the details. All that is left is to register for the research fair.

Because I’m nearing the end of this experience, I can’t help but to reflect back. My interest in research was sparked only last summer when I took research methods in psychology. I never dreamed that I would spend a whole summer doing it, let alone be doing so on a scholarship. So, this summer has definitely been the experience of a lifetime. The subject-matter I happened to be working on (stereotyping) was one that I am immensely interested in and would definitely like to pursue in the future. Working with Prof. Dickter has also opened my eyes to the many paths I can take with social psychology. This research experience, in general, has reaffirmed my love for social psychology and it has planted various ideas for future research in my head.

Thank you to the Charles Center for granting me this great opportunity and to my fellow scholarship recipients for taking interest in my research!


  1. Morrison Mast says:

    Hey Lelise. Your research sounds fascinating; I’d really love to chat with you about it sometime. During my time doing research in Madagascar this summer, I had pretty interesting experiences with biracial people (in Madagascar it’s mostly a blend of southeast Asian and black). Often times I’d look at a face and suddenly find myself confused as to how to “label” that person’s ethnicity in my head. It made me realize that stereotyping and labeling, whether you’re passing judgement or not, is often times a subconscious process. What kind of significance did you find with your results? Will the manuscript be published soon?

  2. Lelise Aklilu says:

    Morrison, that is why I wanted to talk to you about your time in Madagascar too. Coming from a psychological perspective, I’m really interested in your everyday interactions with the locals.
    And you are right. Stereotyping is sometimes a subconscious process. And everyone falls prey to it. Our results showed that the stereotypic primes presented right before the biracial face was shown did affect how people categorized that face.If a white stereotype prime was presented, people categorized the biracial face as white; if the prime was black, participants categorized the face as black. Thus, the results were significant, p<0.05. The manuscript is written and it will be submitted for publication soon. I will let you know when it is available.