Dean’s Medalist in Psychology aims to understand prejudice and love conflict

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April 1, 2022

This spring, Cora Baron was named the Dean’s Medalist for ASU’s Department of Psychology. Baron is a member of four different research labs and will be pursuing a doctorate in social psychology.

“I’m generally interested in how people’s decisions and behaviors are informed by the environment they’re a part of, particularly in regards to their relationships and their communities,” Baron said. “Specifically, I seek to understand what aspects of relationships and communities affect their thoughts and attitudes towards the world around them.

This spring, Cora Baron was named the Dean’s Medalist for ASU’s Department of Psychology. Baron is a member of four different research labs and will be pursuing a doctorate in social psychology. Photo by Robert Ewing/ASU Department of Psychology
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One of Baron’s main interests is managing conflict in romantic relationships.

Conflict is an ever-present part of most romantic relationships, and the ability to communicate and navigate conflict is often a strong predictor of relationship success. While healthy conflict management brings partners closer together, unhealthy conflict management strategies or persistently negative social exchanges are associated with poorer health and relationship failure.

The first lab Baron is a part of is the Evolutionary Social Cognition Lab with Foundation Professor Steven Neuberg and President’s Professor Douglas Kenrick. Neuberg is also chairman of the Department of Psychology. In this lab, research focuses on how fundamental social motives (e.g., mating, status-seeking, and social affiliation) alter how we think about people, how physical and social ecologies shape social behavior and culture, and a range of other issues that apply. evolutionary science to understand social behavior.

“I really appreciate the evolutionary approach of social psychology – I think it’s fascinating,” Baron said. “It was great to work with both mentors, as they work in very different ways, which informed my development as a researcher. »

Baron started as an undergraduate researcher in the spring semester of her freshman year and is now assistant lab director.

“Cora represents everything we appreciate in a young university student. She is incredibly curious and intellectually engaged. She is very intelligent. She seeks to see how science can relate to real-world challenges. She works hard and she is ambitious, in the best sense of the word. We’re really proud of everything she accomplishes and can’t wait to see what’s next,” Neuberg said.

Baron presents an honors thesis on close relationships, difficulties and secular theories on the ability of these conflicts to strengthen these long-term relationships.

“While this research focused on romantic relationships, it made me think more broadly about interpersonal relationships,” Baron said.

She hopes to continue her research on interpersonal relationships and emotion regulation in her graduate studies.

Baron’s interest in interpersonal relationships also led her to be part of the Shiota Psychophysiology Laboratory for Affective Testing (SPLAT) with Associate Professor Lani Shiota.

The SPLAT lab conducts research on emotions, with a focus on positive emotions, emotional processes in intimate relationships, the effects of emotion on cognition, and the implications of emotion for health and well-being. -to be. Shiota recently hosted a mindfulness conference with the Dalai Lama to embrace hope and compassion in times of crisis, such as the pandemic and war.

“Close relationships and emotions are very intertwined and can tell us a lot about how people interact with the social world around them, and I’m also very interested in why these relationships form and continue to going through conflict,” Baron said.

The third lab for which Baron is an undergraduate research assistant is the Behavioral Alcohol Research Lab for Clinical Advancement (BARCA), where research is done on alcohol use disorder in a bar. simulated. The lab’s research aims to inform prevention and intervention efforts with contextualized research on the subjective response to alcohol in a social context.

“I was really interested in the research done at the BARCA lab because I’ve met a lot of students who have experienced forms of sexual victimization and sexual harassment in college, and I wanted to see how alcohol and our perceptions of our peers work together to create attitudes or behaviors regarding seeking or obtaining sexual consent,” Baron said.

Finally, Baron’s fourth research lab isn’t even in Arizona. As part of The Leadership Alliance, she was invited to Chicago to participate in a research lab at the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago with Associate Professor Ed O’Brien. After the conclusion of the summer project, Baron stayed with the lab and continued to conduct research into how people seek or give advice to others.

“Although all of my research labs are disparate, they all focus on the notion of conflict management,” Baron said. “Social psychology is really about understanding behavior and understanding how people feel about the situations they’re in. Also, my favorite part about research is the mechanics of how you’re going to research something. thing and why you are going to look for it.

A family price

Family is extremely important to Baron, and she plans to make her decision to complete her graduate degree in order to continue her research with a supportive mentor, but also to be close to her three siblings and his parents. When she told her family that she had won the Dean’s Medal, they were all overjoyed, but what mattered most to Baron was that her younger brother could share the award with her.

“My younger brother is a year younger than me, he has special needs and he will not be attending college. He is currently in a day program and is doing very well, but winning this award, although ‘exciting to me, is something I know he will be proud of as well,’ Baron said.

Cora Baron Featurette Video

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