Statement of Research Interests
Leah B. Pound
People are fascinating creatures, especially in groups. Even more fascinating is the tendency for individuals to overlook, willfully or not, the power and influence that others have on their own behavior. The rich interplay between social processes, individuals, and the context in which they operate inspires me to study psychology. As a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, I had the opportunity to live in one of the most unique social environments available to undergraduates in the United States. Experiencing the manner in which this tightly-constrained, hypercompetitive, and hypermasculine environment molded my behaviors and my classmates’ behaviors, sparked my interest in social psychology. It was as a cadet that I first realized, or rather was made to feel, that not being a white male was a hindrance to my potential. These formative experiences have motivated my work as a military officer and social psychologist, committed to influencing military culture and policy by developing and leveraging academic expertise.
Given the recent resurgence of overt discrimination of racial minorities in American society, the inclusion of women in combat positions, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and the integration of transgender members into the military, an understanding of the military social identity is more important than ever. Further, the impact of current social tensions in the US will quickly spill over into the military. My research aims to connect the social psychological world to the policy side of the military, specifically in the Air Force by examining how individuals’ social identity makeup influences how they interact with other military members, especially minority military members. I do this by adopting the Social Identity Theory framework and further investigate when perceptions of other in-group members’ experiences are taken seriously and believed to be true. I am currently adopting a sociology construct, Color-Blind Racism, to understand unequal racial outcomes in a color-blind, merit-based system. Using the majority member’s experience within the context of gender and race, I mainly study the beliefs and cognitions that white men have towards racial and gender minorities within the Air Force using mixed methodologies and analyses including ANOVA, Multi-Level Regression, controlled experiments, surveys, and large survey data sets.