Tara C. Dennehy


The University of Massachusetts, Amherst (Advisor: Dr. Nilanjana [Buju] Dasgupta)

My work with Dr. Buju Dasgupta can be characterized by two main lines of inquiry:

My first line of research at UMass Amherst extends my previous research (Ben-Zeev, Dennehy, Sackman, Olides, & Berger, 2011) to examine whether women would exhibit heightened non-verbal communality behaviors after interactions with sexist men (based on Logel et al., 2009), both under stereotype threat and under no-threat, and furthermore, to examine how these behaviors might be interpreted by male and female observers.

The second research line examines factors relating to the underrepresentation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. This line of research is based on the Stereotype Inoculation Model developed by Dr. Buju Dasgupta (Dasgupta, 2011, Psychological Inquiry). We are currently conducting an NSF-funded longitudinal study focused on female engineering majors.

At San Francisco State University, I worked in two research labs:  The Complex Cognition Lab and the Action and Consciousness Lab.

The Complex Cognition Lab (Advisor:  Dr. Avi Ben-Zeev)

In the Complex Cognition Laboratory, my work was primarily situated in research on psychological essentialism, entitativity, and categorization.  One aim of my research with Dr. Avi Ben-Zeev was to apply basic cognitive and categorization processes to understanding stereotyping and prejudice.  Some of my (and our) research involved replicating and expanding upon research by Haslam, Rothschild, & Ernst (2000), Prentice & Miller (2006) and Maddox (2004). Our work together has been published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, among other journals.

We have several papers currently in press and plan to share exciting findings soon!

The Action and Consciousness Lab (Advisor:  Dr. Ezequiel Morsella)

In the Action and Consciousness Laboratory (AC Lab), my focus was primarily on examining the threshold between conscious and non-conscious perceptual processing and how action may influence entry into attentional awareness.  Through a series of studies, I (in collaboration with Dr. Ezequiel Morsella and Shanna Cooper) investigated whether top-down action-related mechanisms influence what enters attentional awareness when visual targets are presented subliminally.  Another research project examining introspection demonstrated that introspections about processing speed are limited and can be distorted by basic processing dynamics. Both of these research lines resulted in manuscripts, which are currently under review. My work in the AC Lab enabled me to develop skills in cognitive research methods and to become familiar and facile with a variety of paradigms, such as backward masking, inattentional blindness, rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP), object substitution masking, as well as flanker and Stroop tasks.