RESEARCH

My research team and I focus our research in several broad but overlapping areas:

 

Access to Meaningful Work

One of my main areas of research is meaningful work. Today’s workplace is rapidly changing and dynamic, and it exists in the context of increasing income inequality and precarious work. Within this environment, meaningful and stable employment is becoming more difficult to find, especially for marginalized and vulnerable populations. Through the lens of several psychological frameworks, such as psychology of working theory, latent deprivation theory, job characteristics theory, and self-determination theory, we examine the causes of and access to meaningful work, both at individual and sociocultural levels. Constructs we have applied to this problem include character strengths, prosocial behaviors, social class, classism, work volition, and underemployment. We also examine how meaningful work impacts well-being and mental health more broadly. Finally, we also examine access to fulfilling work in marginalized populations, such as people who identify as a sexual minority, people with chronic illness, people who are transgender and gender nonconforming, and people from low-income backgrounds. 

See a recent article in Psychological Science Agenda for a partial summary of this work: http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2018/07/valuable-employment.aspx

 

Underemployment, Precarious Work, Decent Work, and Working Poverty

Although finding meaningful work is important, many people struggle to simply find work that meets their basic needs. To examine this problem, my colleagues and I have focused on underemployment, which is work that is below acceptable standards, and decent work, which is work that meets basic requirements, such as a fair wage and access to healthcare. We also have a number of ongoing studies focusing on people in working poverty and precarious work. We have developed scales of decent work and underemployment and examined relations between these variables and well-being.

See this link for a partial summary of this work: https://scholars.org/brief/why-good-jobs-are-important-economy-and-mental-health-and-well-being-american-workers

Cultural Perspectives on Work

My team and I have become increasingly interested in cultural perspectives on work, specifically how people understand, interpret, and experience work across diverse contexts. This particularly includes how people from various levels of privilege and access to resources experience meaningful work and well-being. We have especially focused on how people's subjective social class and objective socioeconomic status relate to interpretations of work and the experience of fulfilling work.  

 

Well-Being and Positive Psychology

A smaller area of my research examines well-being outside of work. For example, we have examined constructs such as gratitude, meaning in life, goals, and character strengths, especially in college student populations.