The social psychological study of stigma, self/identity, and social issues represent the overarching themes of my research. I have pursued these topics in two separate lines of research: (1) the racial and ethnic identity and categorization of atypical minorities such as those who are racially ambiguous, multiracial, or multicultural and (2) the stigmatizing nature of gender ideals with a special emphasis on the consequences of stigma for women’s health and close relationships.
(1) Categorization and Identification of Atypical Minorities
Multiracial people today are considered atypical minorities because they represent a smaller fraction of the ethnic minority population (Sanchez, Good, & Chavez, 2011); however, they may not be atypical in the near future. In the last half century, the growing diversity and racial integration in the U.S. has resulted in an increasing biracial (and multiracial) population. Estimates suggest that nearly 7 million people identified as multiracial in the U.S in 2000 (Jones & Symens-Smith, 2001). Based on census data, projections estimate that 1 in 5 Americans will identify as biracial by the year 2050 (Farley, 2001). Despite this growing population and prominent biracial figures such as President Obama, there has been relatively little empirical research on biracial populations in psychology (Shih & Sanchez, 2005; 2009) and even less on how biracial people are perceived, categorized, and treated (Sanchez & Bonam, 2009). This is surprising when considering the potentially transformative nature of studying biracial populations who, by virtue of belonging to two different racial groups, can reveal a more complex and deeper understanding of intergroup relations and social identity processes. For example, scant attention has been paid to the factors that predict which racial groups people are categorized into because such groups have been considered fixed, and assignment by self and others (e.g., based on prototypical features) has been assumed to be automatic. Yet, my NSF funded work on biracial and multicultural individuals suggests that they are less likely to be categorized into minority groups than prototypical group members, which has important consequences for how perceivers view them, including whether they consider them as appropriate recipients of minority resources (e.g., affirmative action) and of higher status (Sanchez & Bonam, 2009; Sanchez & Chavez, 2010).
(2) The Stigmatizing Nature of Gender Ideals
Gender roles guide and constrain men and women’s behavior across a wide range of settings, including their behavior in intimate relationships. On the one hand, conforming to gender norms helps men and women avoid the costs of being perceived as deviant. On the other hand, my research finds that investment in gender norms predicts lowered self-esteem, symptoms of disordered eating, and less satisfying sexual relationships (Sanchez & Crocker, 2005; Sanchez, Crocker, & Boike, 2005). Specifically, investment in gender norms predicts lower psychological well-being and less satisfying sexual experiences because gender norm adherence thwarts feelings of autonomy and promotes basing self-esteem on others’ approval (Sanchez et al., 2005). However, these effects are likely to be moderated by the motives underlying gender norm conformity. Specifically, men and women who adhere to gender norms in order to meet other’s expectations (controlled motivation) have worse psychological outcomes than people who choose to conform to gender norms (autonomy motivation) (Good & Sanchez, in press).Nonetheless, some gender norms and stereotypes can be costly for healthy, intimate relationships between men and women. For example, women’s conformity to the sexually passive stereotype covaries with greater symptoms of sexual dysfunction (lower sexual arousability and greater orgasm difficulty) and feelings of restricted freedom in sexual relationships (Kiefer & Sanchez, 2007). Moreover, some women have internalized this submissive role to the point where they show automatic links between sex and submission (Sanchez, Kiefer, & Ybarra, 2006; Kiefer, Sanchez, Kalinka & Ybarra, 2006). At the same time, men who invest in gender norms that dictate male dominance are more likely to show automatic links between sex and dominance and may have greater proclivities towards sexual coercion (Kiefer & Sanchez, 2007). Thus, gender stereotypes disservice men and women by harming close relationships. Recent findings with couples outline the dyadic costly effects of gender conformity for both sexual and relationship satisfaction (Sanchez, Phelan, Moss-Racusin, & Good, in press).
- Close Relationships
- Culture and Ethnicity
- Gender Psychology
- Intergroup Relations
- Prejudice and Stereotyping
- Self and Identity
- Sexuality, Sexual Orientation
Research Group or Laboratory:
- Good, J. J., & Sanchez, D. T. (2010). Doing gender for different reasons: Why gender conformity predicts positive and negative self-esteem. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34, 203-214.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Bonam, C. M. (2009). To disclose or not to disclose biracial identity: The effect of biracial disclosure on perceiver evaluations and target responses. Journal of Social Issues, 65, 129-149.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Broccoli, T. L. (2008). The romance of self-objectification: Does priming romantic relationships induce states of self-objectification among women? Sex Roles, 59, 555-567.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Chavez, G. (2010). Are you minority enough? Language ability affects targets' and perceivers' assessments of minority status. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 32, 99-107.
- Sanchez, D. T., Chavez, G., Good, J. J., & Wilton, L. S. (2012). The language of acceptance: Spanish proficiency and perceived intragroup rejection among Latinos. Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 43, 1019-1033.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Crocker, J. (2005). How investment in gender ideals affects well-being: The role of external contingencies of self-worth. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29, 63-77.
- Sanchez, D. T., Crocker, J., & Boike, K. R. (2005). Doing gender in the bedroom: Investing in gender norms and the sexual experience. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 1445-1455.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Garcia, J. A. (2009). When race matters: Racially stigmatized others and perceiving race as a biological construction affect biracial people's daily well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1154-1164.
- Sanchez, D. T., Good, J. J., & Chavez, G. (2011). Blood quantum and perceptions of Black/White biracial targets: The Black ancestry prototype model of affirmative action. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 3-14.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Kiefer, A. K. (2007). Body concerns in and out of the bedroom: Implications for sexual pleasure and problems. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 808-820.
- Sanchez, D. T., Kiefer, A., & Ybarra, O. (2006). Sexual submissiveness in women: Costs for sexual autonomy and arousal. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 512-524.
- Sanchez, D. T., & Kwang, T. (2007). When the relationship becomes her: Revisiting women's body concerns from a relationship contingency perspective. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31, 401-414.
- Sanchez, D. T., Phelan, J. E., Moss-Racusin, C. A., & Good, J. J. (2012). The gender role motivation model of women’s sexually submissive behavior and sexual satisfaction in heterosexual couples. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(4), 528-539.
- Sanchez, D. T., Shih, M., & Garcia, J. A. (2009). Juggling multiple racial identities: Malleable racial identification and well-being. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15, 243-254.
- Shih, M. J., & Sanchez, D. T. (2005). Perspectives and research on the positive and negative implications of having multiple racial identities. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 569-591.
Diana T. Sanchez
Department of Psychology
53 Avenue East, Tillett Hall
Piscataway, New Jersey 08854-8040
- Phone: (848) 445-2344
- Fax: (732) 445-0036