My primary research concerns how gender and power are reflected in and maintained by subtle communication processes. Nonverbal behaviors are of particular interest because they often operate outside awareness and off the record. Also, nonverbal cues can simultaneously reveal information about an individual's identity and attitudes as well as shape and sustain social relationships. My goal is to determine why facial expressions, like smiling, or linguistic strategies, like apologizing, reveal clear gender differences. Our conceptual model, called Expressivity Demand Theory, aims at specifying when people display such behaviors and what functions they serve in social interaction. In related research, we are investigating how gender and power affect patterns of implicit causality resulting from verbal descriptions. Our studies have shown that attributions for interpersonal events are substantially altered by the inclusion of gender or power information. Now, we are interested in determining why agents are seen as more causal when they are described as behaving toward women than when they behave towards men.
I am also interested in exploring the effects of being the target of seemingly innocuous prejudice, such as that conveyed through humor, slights, or small provocations. For example, we are investigating how women react verbally and nonverbally, on-line and after the fact, to hearing sexist jokes or being asked sexually provocative questions in a job interview. We are also examining how individual differences in such areas as self esteem and sexist attitudes affect emotional and behavioral responses to being the targets of acts of mundane prejudice. The organizing theme of my research is to understand how subtle and implicit messages reveal, justify, and preserve unequal social structures.
- Communication, Language
- Gender Psychology
- Interpersonal Processes
- Nonverbal Behavior
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
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- LaFrance, M. (2011). Lip service: Smiles in life, death, trust, lies, work, memory, sex, and politics. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
- LaFrance, M. (1981). Women and the mentoring process: Problems, paradoxes and prospects. Boston, MA: Boston College Press.
- LaFrance, M., & Mavo, C. (1978). Moving bodies: Nonverbal communication in social relationships. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
- Gapinski, K. D., Brownell, K. D., & LaFrance, M. (2003). Body objectification and "fat talk": Effects on emotion, motivation, and cognitive performance. Sex Roles, 48(9-10), 377-388.
- Brescoll, V., & LaFrance, M. (2004). The correlates and consequences of newspaper reports of research on sex differences. Psychological Science, 15(8), 515-520.
- LaFrance, M. (2001). Is rape natural? A review of A Natural History of Rape by Thornhill and Palmer. Contemporary Psychology, 46(4), 377-379.
- LaFrance, M. (2000). The schemas and schemas in sex discrimination. Brooklyn Law Review, 65(4), 1063-1071.
- LaFrance, M. (1996). Why do women smile more than men? International Journal of Psychology, 31(3-4), 5042-5042.
- LaFrance, M. (1998). Toward a new psychology of gender. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 22(3), 515-517.
- Hecht, M. A., & Lafrance, M. (1995). How (fast) can I help you? Tone of voice and telephone operator efficiency in interactions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25(23), 2086-2098.
- LaFrance, M., Hecht, M. A., & Paluck, E. L. (2003). The contingent smile: A meta-analysis of sex differences in smiling. Psychological Bulletin, 129(2), 305-334.
- LaFrance, M. (2004). Different but equal: Communication between the sexes. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(2), 184-184.
- Lafrance, M., Brownell, H., & Hahn, E. (1997). Interpersonal verbs, gender, and implicit causality. Social Psychology Quarterly, 60(2), 138-152.
- Hecht, M. A., & LaFrance, M. (1998). License or obligation to smile: The effect of power and sex on amount and type of smiling. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(12), 1332-1342.
- LaFrance, M., & Woodzicka, J. (2001). Real versus imagined reactions to sexual harassment. Journal of Social Issues, 57(1), 15-30.
Department of Psychology
New Haven, CT 06520-8205
- Phone: (203) 432-1165
- Fax: (203) 432-7172