Dr. Neil A. Lewis Jr.
Cornell University & Weill Cornell Medicine

Stratification in the Mind: How Segregation Shapes Meaning-making, Motivation, and Behavior

Abstract When societies separate people into different groups and provide those groups with differential access to resources and opportunities, members those groups inevitably have different experiences in life. Due to situated cognition processes, differences in contexts that arise from such social stratification influence how people make meaning of the world around them. Moreover, those differences in meaning-making have cascading effects on the decisions people make. In this talk, I will share recent findings from my program of research that has been examining these processes in the context of the United States. We have been examining how US segregation (i.e., by race and socioeconomic status) influences how Americans make meaning of their experiences, and the implications of that meaning for their motivation to pursue different goals and success in goal pursuit efforts, particularly in the domains of education, health, and environmental sustainability. I will discuss the implications of this research for both theory and practice.