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Social-Organizational Psychology
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Elissa L. Perry

(Please note: Dr. Perry is on sabbatical for the 2013-2014 academic year and will return in the fall of 2014)

Topics of Interest:

This workgroup primarily but not exclusively focuses on issues of demographic diversity and discrimination in organizations.  Emphasis is placed on using a variety of theoretical (e.g., social cognitive; legal; relational demographic; person-environment fit) and methodological (lab studies, surveys) approaches to conduct research that helps us understand the role that a variety of demographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, generational membership) play in the workplace.  The implications of demographic diversity for decision making (e.g., selection) and organizational behaviors (e.g., communication, turnover) is explored.  Attention is given to the role of individual and organizational factors in understanding issues of demographic diversity and discrimination.

Current Projects:

Generational Stereotypes


This research is concerned with determining whether a case can be made for the existence of generational stereotypes, separate from although related to age stereotypes.  We conducted a first study which suggested that a tentative case can be made for the existence of generational stereotypes (stereotypes related to Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y/Millennials).  Our second study attempted to further assess and delineate the content of these stereotypes.  Study 2 asked two samples of individuals (students and an older cohort) to assess the extent to which each of a series of characteristics (generated from our Study 1) were strongly associated with their image of each of 3 generations. 

Based on the results of these two studies, we believe that while they overlap, age and generational stereotypes also have unique content.  We recently collected data for a third study which looks at the implications of using age compared to generational stereotypes.  In our scenario based laboratory study we ask applicants to read a job description and then evaluate two applicants for the job.  Two applicant profiles are presented, one is described consistently across experimental conditions, and the other is manipulated.  Subjects are provided with an applicant profile which describes the applicant as either a typical:  Baby Boomer, Millennial/Gen Y, 29 year old, or 60 year old.  Based on our previous research, we anticipate that people may have more positive feelings about an applicant who is described as a Baby Boomer compared to a 60 year old.  We also anticipate that people may have more negative feelings about an applicant described as a Gen-Y/Millennial compared to a 29 year old.  We are in the process of analyzing the data so that we may prepare both a conference paper and a paper for publication in an academic journal.

Organization Demography

In light of increasing workforce diversity, it is important to understand the impact of this diversity on organizational outcomes.  To date, limited research has investigated how and when demographic diversity influences key organizational outcomes, such as organizational performance and employee attitudes.  Further, the limited research that has been conducted does not provide clear evidence for either a direct positive or negative relationship between diversity and organizational outcomes.  As a result, there is limited empirically-based guidance to assist practitioners in effectively managing a diverse workforce.  Our workgroup has access to a data set collected by a former student.  This student used a cross-sectional field study design, involving both questionnaires and archival data collection methods.  Her sample consisted of 285 U.S. colleges and universities.  We hope to use this rich dataset to explore a number of questions such as how the racial demographic profile of an organization (i.e., a university) may impact the performance of that institution.  We are also interested in exploring the processes (e.g., social capital and group processes) by which these effects may occur.  In addition, we have data that captures the diversity climate of each organization and we intend to explore the extent to which this variable also influences organizational outcomes.  Our workgroup will focus on exploring the data and eventually writing a conference paper.

HR for the Non-HR Manager

In 2004, Carol Kulik wrote a book on HR targeted toward line managers who must engage in HR related activities at work.  Carol has asked me to join her in writing a revised version of this book.  The original edition provided an overview of human resource activities for the non-human resource manager and the revised version will do the same.  The overall organization of the book will follow a manager’s human resource activities from the initial recruitment and selection of new employees, through compensation and performance appraisal decisions, and ultimately to the unpleasant but sometimes necessary disciplinary and termination actions.  We are updating the material in the original chapters and adding chapters that address onboarding, training and development, and retention.  There are several unique features of this book.  First, this book is firmly grounded in the academic literature.  Its content reflects the latest and most robust research findings in human resource management.  Second, the book “translates” this academic literature into reader-friendly non-technical language and delivers practical guidelines to managers about how to apply research findings to their own organizations.  This book also is accompanied by an instructor’s manual which includes a variety of exercises and cases that must also be updated.  The work group will be involved in helping the authors to update the book and the instructors’ manual.  This book is due to be completed in 2015. 

Recent Projects Near Completion:

Gender Stereotype Violation

People have beliefs about how women and men typically are (e.g., descriptive stereotypes) and expectations about how they should and should not be (e.g., prescriptive and proscriptive stereotypes).  Women are expected to be communal (e.g., warm, caring, nurturing).  Men are expected to be agentic (e.g., aggressive, assertive, competitive).  Those who violate gender stereotypes experience social and economic penalties referred to as backlash.  For example, successful women in male-typed jobs are perceived as competent, but cold and hostile and consequently they are liked less.  Similarly, men who are successful in female-typed jobs are perceived as more ineffectual and less respected than women.  We have designed and conducted two scenario based laboratory studies to study the implications of gender stereotype violation.  

Our first study explored the implications of stereotype violation for a male and female target employed in a male-typed job.  Results revealed that a male target who violated gender stereotypic expectations (by not being clearly competent in a strongly male-typed job) was perceived less positively (less competent and agentic) and in turn experienced more negative employment outcomes (e.g., training, promotional opportunities) relative to a female target who violated gender stereotypic expectations (by being clearly competent in a strongly male-typed job).  We are currently revising this paper for publication in an academic journal.

We also conducted a second study that explored how engaging in a communal role (i.e., providing eldercare) impacts perceptions about women and men who are employed in a male-typed job and who violate their respective gender stereotypes. We are currently completing the analyses and write-up of this study. 

Representative Publications:

Perry, E.L., Hanvongse, A., & Casoinic, D.  (2013).  Making a case for the existence of generational stereotypes:  A literature review and exploratory study.  In R. Burke, C. Cooper, & J. Field (Eds.), Handbook on Aging, Work, & Society.  London: Sage Publications.

Roloff, K., Ferraris, D., Perry, E.L., & Johnson, B.K.  (2012, August).  Stereotype violation:  A comparison of women and men employed in male-typed jobs.  Academy of Management Conference, Boston, MA.

Hanvongse, A., Casoinic, D.; & Perry, E.L., (2011, August).  Making a case for the existence of generational stereotypes: A literature review and exploratory study.  Academy of Management Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Information for interested applicants:

Dr. Perry will return in the fall of 2014 and looks forward to fielding email inquiries post-sabbatical.