Erin Cooley

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Erin Cooley

Associate Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • BS in Psychology, University of Florida, 2009
  • BA in Spanish, University of Florida, 2009
  • MA in Social Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011
  • PhD in Social Psychology with a Formal Concentration in Quantitative Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015

Aron, A., Coups, E. L., Aron, E. N., & Cooley, E. (2022). Statistics for Psychology. (7th ed.). Pearson.

Hierarchy, Policy & Health Lab

Research from our lab explores how the persistence of hierarchies in the United States (i.e., racism, classism, sexism and their intersections) influence people's policy attitudes, as well as their mental and physical health. For example, we have found that high economic inequality leads many Americans, even those with objectively high income and education, to feel as if they are falling behind. And, these feelings of falling behind have important implications for predicting their policy attitudes (e.g., welfare support, beliefs about police use of force, etc.) as well as their own mental (i.e., depression) and physical health (i.e., sleep quality and heart health). We also explore how interventions that teach people about hierarchy and power, such as lessons about white privilege and implicit bias trainings, interact with these processes--at times, in unanticipated ways.

Together our lab is focused on understanding how shifting U.S. racial demographics and growing U.S. levels of economic inequality intertwine with salient societal issues such as racism, classism, and growing political polarization. By understanding these processes, we hope to identify evidence-based practices that will improve people's quality of life.

*Indicates student author
**Indicates both authors contributed equally

Caluori, N.,** Cooley, E.,** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Lei, R., Philbrook, L., Cipolli, W., Klein, E.* (2024). Perceptions of falling behind “most White people”: Within-group status comparisons predict fewer positive emotions and worse health over time among White (but not Black) Americans. Psychological Science

Tran, A.,* ** Cooley, E., ** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Lisnek, J. (2023). Racialized sexism: Nonverbal displays of power in the workplace are evaluated as more masculine when displayed by White (vs. Black) women with negative implications for their experience of sexism and hiring.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Cooley, E., ** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., ** Lei, R., Cipolli, W., & Philbrook, L. (2022). Beliefs that White = poor, above and beyond beliefs that Black = poor, predict White (but not Black) Americans’ attitudes toward welfare recipients and policy. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J.L., Payne, K.B., Steele, J.* (2022). Groups amplify the perceived threat and justification for using force against Black people protesting for racial equality—especially among social conservatives. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Cooley, E., Cipolli, W., & Payne, B.K. (2021). Who gets to vote? Racialized mental images of legitimate and illegitimate voters. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Cooley, E., ** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., ** Lei, R., Cipolli, W., & Philbrook, L. (2021). The policy implications of feeling low versus high status within a privileged group. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Cooley, E., Cipolli, W., & Mehta, S. (2021). Race, ambivalent sexism, and perceptions of situations when police shoot Black women. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Cooley, E., Marshburn, C., McKee, S., & Lei, R. (2021). Investigating the interplay between race, work ethic stereotypes, and attitudes toward welfare recipients and policies. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Vuletich, H., Kurtz-Costes, B., Cooley, E., & Payne, B. K. (2020). Math and language gender stereotypes: Age and gender differences in implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs. Plos one15(9), e0238230.

Cooley, E., ** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., ** Lei, R., Philbrook, L., Cipolli, W., & McKee, S. E. (2020). Investigating the health consequences for white Americans who believe white Americans are wealthy. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Cooley, E., ** Hester, N., ** Cipolli, W., Rivera, L., Abrams, K., * Pagan, J., Sommers, S., & Payne, B. K. (2019). Racial biases in officers’ decisions to frisk are amplified for Black people stopped among groups leading to similar biases in searches, arrests, and use of force. Social Psychological and Personality Science

Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., Cottrell, D.* (2019). Liberals perceive more racism than conservatives when police shoot Black men—But, reading about White privilege increases perceived racism, and shifts attributions of guilt, regardless of political ideology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology


Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Lei, R. F., & Cipolli, W. III. (2019). Complex intersections of race and class: Among social liberals, learning about White privilege reduces sympathy, increases blame, and decreases external attributions for White people struggling with poverty. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Advance online publication.


Cooley, E., ** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., ** & Boudreau, C.* (2019). Shifting stereotypes of welfare recipients can reverse racial biases in support for wealth redistribution. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Cooley, E., McKee, S. E., & Hyden, C. (2019). Wealthy Whites and poor Blacks: Implicit associations between racial groups and wealth predict explicit opposition toward helping the poor. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology82, 26-34.

Cooley, E., Lei, R., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., & Ellerkamp, T.* (2019). Personal prejudice, other guilt: Explicit prejudice toward Black people predicts guilty verdicts for White officers who kill Black men. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin45(5), 754–766. 

Cooley, E., Lei, R. F., & Ellerkamp, T.* (2018). The mixed outcomes of taking ownership for implicit racial biases. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin44(10), 1424-1434.

Cooley, E., & Payne, B. K. (2018). A group is more than the average of its parts: Why existing stereotypes are applied more to the same individuals when viewed in groups than when viewed alone. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 1368430218756494.

Cooley, E., Winslow, H.,* Vojt, A.,* Shein, J.,* & Ho, J.* (2018). Bias at the intersection of identity: Conflicting social stereotypes of gender and race augment the perceived femininity and interpersonal warmth of smiling Black women. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology74, 43-49.

Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., Agboh, D., Enjaian, B.,* Geyer, R.,* Lue, N.,* & Wu, S.* (2018). The fluid perception of racial identity: The role of friendship groups. Social Psychological and Personality Science9(1), 32-39. doi: 10.1177/1948550617703171

Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J, Brown, C.S., & Polikoff, J.* (2018). Black groups accentuate hypodescent by activating threats to the racial hierarchySocial Psychological and Personality Science. doi: 10.1177/1948550617708014

Cooley, E., Payne, B.K., Cipolli, W., Cameron, D, Berger, A.,* & Gray, K. (2017). The paradox of group mind: "people in a group" have more mind than "a group of people."Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(5), 691.

Cooley, E., & Payne, B. K. (2017). Using groups to measure intergroup prejudice. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin43(1), 46-59. doi:10.1177/0146167216675331.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J., Dotsch, R., Cooley, E., & Payne, B. K. (2016). The relationship between mental representations of welfare recipients and attitudes toward welfare. Psychological Science, 28(1), 1-12. doi: 10.1177/0956797616674999.

Lai, C. K., Skinner, A. L., Cooley, E., Murrar, S., Brauer, M., Devos, T., Calanchini, J., Xiao, Y. J.,  Pedram, C., Marshburn, C. K., Simon, S., Blanchar, J. C., Joy-Gaba, J. A., Conway, J., Redford, L., Klein, R. A., Roussos, G., Schellhaas, F. M. H., Burns, M., Hu, X., McLean, M. C., Axt, J. R., Asgari, S., Schmidt, K., Rubinstein., R, Marini, M., Rubichi, S., Shin,. J. L., & Nosek, B. A. (2016). Reducing implicit racial preferences: II. Intervention effectiveness across time. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 8, 1001-1016.

Cooley, E., Payne, B.K., Loersch, C., & Lei, R. (2015). Who owns implicit attitudes? Testing a meta-cognitive perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin41(1), 103-115.

Cooley, E., Payne, B.K., & Phillips, J. K.* (2014). Implicit bias and the illusion of conscious ill will. Social Psychological and Personality Science5, 500-507.

Cooley, E., Rea, A. J., Insko, C. A., & Payne, B. K. (2013). Perceived relevance of honesty and agreeableness to situations with non-correspondent and correspondent outcomes: an interdependence perspective. European Journal of Social Psychology, 43, 593-599.

Payne, B.K., Brown-Iannuzzi, J., Burkley, M., Arbuckle, N., Cooley, E., Cameron, C.D., & Lundberg, K.B. (2013). Intention invention and the affect misattribution procedure: Reply to Bar-Anan and Nosek (2012). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39, 375-386.

Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Cooley, E., Caluori, N. (in press). The Racialization of Social Class. The Handbook of Experimental Social Psychology.

Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Dinero, R. (in press). Using the Culture Cycle to Teach Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination. Teaching Social Psychology.

Cooley, E.,** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L.,** Calouri, N., Elacqua, N.,*  Cipolli, W., Lisnek, J. (under review). Feeling last place when your group is in first: The subjective status profile of White Americans drawn to alt-right extremism. Target Journal: Psychological Science.

Cooley, E.,** Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L.,** Vlasak, D.*, Lei, R., Philbrook, L., Cipolli, W., Lisnek, J. (in prep). Measuring perceptions of within- and between-group status: A new measure, replication, and extension exploring the effects of subjective within-group status and health among White Americans. Target Journal: Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Galvan, M., Alvarez, G. M., Cipolli, W., Cooley, E., Muscatell, K. A., Payne, B.K. (in prep). Is discrimination widespread or concentrated? Evaluating the distribution of hiring and housing discrimination against Black Americans. Target Journal: Psychological Science.

Lei, R., Philbrook, L., Cooley, E., Brown-Iannuzzi, J. L., Lei, R., Cipolli, W., & Philbrook, L. (in prep). Examining the consequences of shifting representations of social class on children’s stereotypic race-class associations and social mobility beliefs. Target Journal: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Lei, R., Cohen, A., Davis, E. R., Cooley, E. (in prep). Children automatically encode race and gender simultaneously. Target Journal: Psychological Science.

Character and Context blog post for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (June 10, 2021). “Are all women perceived as equally deserving of protection from police violence?”

UC Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Institute of Personality and Social Research. Talk given virtually (April 14, 2021). "Living up to Whiteness: Why group-based privilege leaves many White Americans, ironically, feeling unprivileged."

Character and Context blog post for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (October 31, 2020). “When safety in numbers becomes racism in numbers”

Invited Symposium and Panel Member for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology 2019 Annual Meeting. "Implicit Bias Training and Beyond: A critical examination and discussion of implicit bias training"

Character and Context blog post for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (June 10, 2019). “Who is to blame when police officers shoot Black men?”

OpEd for Vice (May 7, 2019). “The disturbing thing I learned studying white privilege and liberals.”

Character and Context blog post for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (April 15, 2019). “Beliefs that Black people are poor predict opposition toward welfare.”

The Academic Minute: A WMAC National Production (August 31, 2017). “Groups and sympathy”

PsyPost (February, 2024). “Gender, race, and power: Unpacking the dynamics of workplace perceptions”

PsyPost (July, 2021). “White, but not Black, women benefit from benevolently sexist beliefs during violent interactions with police”

The Conversation (August 6, 2020). “Why diversity training on campus is likely to disappoint”

Voice of America (June 17, 2020). “What is ‘white privilege’ and whom does it help?

PsyPost (June 6, 2020). “White privilege lessons alter perceptions of racism when a Black man is shot by police.”

Pacific Standard (May 30, 2019). “Talking about white privilege can reduce liberals’ sympathy for poor white people.”

Reason Magazine (May 29, 2019). “Liberals who learned about white privilege became less sympathetic to poor whites.”

Quillette (May 23, 2019). “What does teaching about white privilege actually accomplish (not what you might think or hope).”

The Greater Good Science Center (May 20th, 2019). “What happens when you educate liberals about White privilege.”

Big Think (May 12, 2019). “Study: Teaching liberals about white privilege reveals ‘startling’ blind spot.”

The Tobin Project Scholar Network Newsletter (April 18, 2019). “Wealthy Whites and poor Blacks: Implicit associations between racial groups and wealth predict explicit opposition toward helping the poor.”

Colgate University News (December 6, 2017). “Stephanie Wu ’18 brings a personal view to research on race and prejudice.”

The Scene, Colgate University (July 20, 2017). “Professor Cooley’s research has implications for moral decision-making involving groups.”

Vox (April, 11, 2017). “This one small language tweak could change our view of refugees.”