Recently my lab, the Social Vision and Interpersonal Perception Lab, in conjunction with several collaborating researchers, has revealed a striking intracultural/racial advantage in mental state decoding (i.e., ability to read complex mental states in others) among Asian, Black, and White students, evident both in performance and neural responsivity. To our knowledge this is the first demonstration of such variation giving rise to a number of related questions whose answers await our continued research efforts.
A current project being conducted in the Azar Lab involves mothers from diverse racial backgrounds and of diverse socioeconomic status involved in the children protection system living in poverty and in crime ridden neighborhoods of Philadelphia. More…
Mothers, Emotional Competence, and Cultural Attitudes (MECCA)
Co-PI: Pamela Cole with co-PI Gisela Trommsdorff (Germany) and co-Is: Seong-Yeon Park (Korea), Shanta Niraula (Nepal), & Ramesh Mishra (India)
The goal of this cross-national study is to understand cultural variations in mothers’ intuitive theories about child socialization. My contribution was to add a culturally sensitive interview that assesses mothers’ conceptions of child competence (in early school age), which should contextualize their beliefs about their socialization practices. We have a conceptual paper in print, a senior honors thesis that we are preparing as a manuscript for publication (showing similarities & differences in mothers’ criteria), a 2nd project in data analysis focusing specifically on emotional competence, and a 3rd project examining whether individual differences in competence criteria (within or between groups) predict beliefs about parenting practices.
Parents and Children Together (PACT), A Penn State and Harrisburg Community Alliance, is a community partnership and interdisciplinary research center located in Harrisburg, PA. The goals of the center are two-fold: (1) to engage a diverse urban community in the research process and; (2) to enhance our scientific understanding of how diverse contexts and cultures influence early child development. More…
Dr. Jacobs is currently working in the area of adverse impact in selection tests for public sector jobs. Adverse impact refers to differential results for various groups such as more men passing a physical abilities test for firefighter or Whites scoring more highly than Blacks on a test to select police officers. When this happens one important question arises, “Is the test fair?” His research involves large data sets from police officer, firefighter, and bus operator selection programs used by agencies across the country. He is investigating the role of personality tests, test score banding, and other factors in reducing adverse impact. He advocates that the laws governing testing begin to take into account many of the realities that are found in selection programs.
Research conducted in the Culture, Health and Emotion Lab has two primary foci:
- Exploring and understanding the ways in which culture influences basic emotional processes such as emotional experience and expression, emotion regulation and emotion perception
- Understanding the consequences of cultural variations in emotion, especially in terms of health, mental health and well-being. We are also interested in how individuals from diverse cultures react to and prepare for stressors that occur within the individual (e.g., psychopathology and disease) as well as external stressors in the environment (e.g., discrimination and racism).