New Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Christopher Petsko

October 21, 2020

The Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University is excited to welcome Dr. Christopher D. Petsko, its newest Postdoctoral Associate.

Christopher joins the Cook Center after having finished his Ph.D. in social psychology at Northwestern University, where he graduated in June of 2020.

In general, Christopher examines the psychology of social stereotypes: how they get inside our minds, and how they come to influence the impressions we make of each other. As a quick example, some of Christopher’s research has shown that learning that someone is gay (vs. not) can distort the impressions we make of their racial features. For example, when people learn that Latino men are gay, they come to think of these men as seeming “less Latino” and even as seeming “Whiter”—stereotypically speaking—than they would otherwise. Findings such as these suggest, perhaps, that one’s sexual orientation and racial group can work in tandem to influence how one is treated across a range of social contexts: from educational settings, to the workplace, to the criminal justice system.

At Duke University, Christopher will be working primarily with the Cook Center’s own Dr. Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, who herself specializes in many of the same stereotyping dynamics that Christopher’s research emphasizes. In tandem, Christopher and Ashleigh plan to continue studying intersectional stereotyping—broadly, how the impressions we make of others often depend on the multiple social groups to which they belong—and as well, to develop a Duke University website that houses resources for emerging women leaders.

Christopher’s research has received attention from the National Science Foundation and has been published in leading journals in his field, including the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology and Social Psychological and Personality Science. Later this year, Christopher’s most recent paper—which is on the topic of intergroup dehumanization in U.S.—will be coming out in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. This paper will be the first of (hopefully) many in which Christopher gets to acknowledge his affiliation with the Cook Center.

At Northwestern University, Christopher developed and taught his own undergraduate seminar on the topic of Stereotyping and Prejudice; at Duke, Christopher teaches Negotiation in the Fuqua School of Business (where he also holds an appointment).

With the support of the Cook Center, Christopher plans to continue working on projects of relevance to broad social issues and to public policy. More information on Christopher, including where to contact him, can be found here.