NICHOLAS ALT, PHD
In one line of research I examine how exposure to stigma and prejudice adversely affects physical and mental health, particularly for sexual minority populations. In a comprehensive study we are examining whether stigma exposure has a direct and immediate effect on physical health outcomes including skin barrier recovery and sympathetic nervous system activity. This work also incorporates a number of individual difference measures (e.g., internalized homophobia, rejection sensitivity, etc.) and future plans include recruiting self-identified allies to the LGBT community. For these projects students would learn a data collection, data processing, and data analysis for a number of physiological measures including cardiovascular activity, skin barrier healing, and electrodermal activity.
My second area of research examines the social perception of faces and bodies. In this vein I am interested in how our rapid visual perception of others (both in groups and as single targets) affects our social-evaluative judgments. For example, one series of studies examined how body weight was interdependently associated with social categories such as race/ethnicity, sex, and age. Additionally, I am interested in how our rapid visual perception of groups (e.g., within half a second) leads increased or decreased feelings of fit and belonging and psychological stress of interacting within the group. For these projects students would learn facial morphing techniques, experimental design (online, laboratory and field studies), and advanced data analysis (e.g., multi-level modeling).