Dr Jolien van Breen
Postdoctoral Research Associate

Research

Research interests

Broadly, my interests focus on topics such as social disadvantage, gender issues, motivation, and social behaviour. My recent research has focused on how people who experience social devaluation (such as stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination) cope with those experiences. This work demonstrates that those who are the target of social devaluation are not passive victims, but have a number of strategies at their disposal to actively cope with the devaluation they face. This research consists of a number of specific projects, which are described below.

Research projects

Implicit cues of devaluation.

Current norms in our society mean that many explicit forms of discrimination and prejudice are no longer considered acceptable. Nevertheless, at a more subtle level, biases and prejudices that contribute to the devaluation of many social groups continue to exist and shape our social interactions. In this line of research we study how members of disadvantaged groups cope with such subtle forms of social devaluation.

Resistance and Resilience.

This project focuses on the strategies women can use to resist the harmful effects of gender-based devaluation. For instance, we show that exposure to gender stereotypes can lead some women to increase their efforts in domains that society considers ‘typically masculine’, as a way of counteracting gender stereotypes. Amongst these women, then, exposure to gender-based devaluation triggers resistance.

Gender Identity. 

In this line of research, we examine how women’s perceptions of, and responses to, gender-based devaluation depend on their gender identity. We develop a 2-dimensional framework in which attitudes towards gender issues depend on a woman’s identification with women as a group, as well as her identification with feminists. For an impression of this project, you can visit https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01019

Adherence to stereotypes.

In a new line of research I will study adherence to stereotypes, focusing particularly on the role of motivation in this process. It is commonly assumed that adherence to stereotypes is a passive response, ‘forced’ upon the individual by their social environment. In this project I would like to examine whether there are circumstances under which a person might actively choose to adhere to stereotypical expectations (for instance to ensure smooth interpersonal interactions).

Assessing social motivation.

This project aims to assess the motivational underpinnings of resistance to social devaluation through the use of EEG-methodology. We aim to show that patterns of alpha acitivity that are indicative of motivational processes precede resistance responses.

Grants/Funding

Heymans Institute Collaborative Research Grant:

Awarded to the project “Alpha activity in parietal cortices as an indicator of social motivation”.

Spanish Ministry of Economy and Development:

Awarded to the research consortium led by Soledad de Lemus Martin (University of Granada, Spain)

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