UIC Psychology – Social and Personality visit with India Johnson, PhD

Date / Time

April 17, 2023

3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

Join UIC Psychology’s Social and Personality Program as we welcome India Johnson, PhD, for her talk, “Signaling safety?: Exploring the efficacy of (in)congruent cues among Black women,” Monday, April 17, at 3 p.m., in Behavioral Sciences Building (BSB) Room 2057.

Abstract: Black women have been historically excluded from many professional spaces. Lack of representation can trigger identity safety concerns, causing Black women to avoid and/or exit professional settings altogether. Fortunately, exposure to an identity-safety cue, or a signal in the environment that communicates one’s identity is valued, can ease such concerns. Consistent with this notion, learning about a successful ingroup individual within an organization, such as a Black man or woman employee, has been found to diminish identity safety concerns. However, opportunities to interact with Black professionals are limited due to their ongoing underrepresentation in organizational settings. Recent work finds that identity-safety cues aimed at one marginalized group can transfer and signal identity safety for marginalized groups incongruent with the cue (i.e., cue transfer), suggesting an identity-safety cue congruent or incongruent with Black women’s identities could potentially attract Black women to organizational settings. Moreover, though past work has explored individuals as congruent identity-safety cues, the efficacy of image-based congruent and incongruent cues has yet to be explored among Black women. Across a series of studies, we adopted an intersectional framework and examined the efficacy of (in)congruent image-based identity-safety cues among Black women. No evidence of cue transfer emerged among Black women. Rather, though image-based cues were effective, only cues congruent with Black women’s racial identity signaled safety. Moreover, our final study found that only the presence of race-relevant (but not gender-relevant) cues mitigated Black women’s invisibility concerns within the organization. Altogether, we document the importance of exploring cue transfer among multiply marginalized persons and demonstrate the distinct psychological processes underlying identity safety among Black women.

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