Alex Borgella

Visiting Assistant Professor

 

207-786-6307

Pettengill Hall, Room 370

aborgell@bates.edu

Summary of Interests

  • Intergroup Relations
  • Disparagement Humor
  • Racial bias
  • Bias within racial and ethnic groups

Education

  • B.A., University of West Florida, 2010
  • M.A, James Madison University, 2012
  • Ph.D., Tufts University, 2017

Research Interests

Borgella’s research looks into factors that influence how we perceive others in various contexts. These factors can be related to the things a person says or attributes about a person (e.g., name, social category information). A large portion of his research involves how humor can impact how we perceive people. His recent work has demonstrated that members of stigmatized social groups can use humor to influence peoples’ attitudes toward them Specifically, it has been demonstrated that stigmatized group members can use group-related disparagement humor (humor which belittles, maligns, or otherwise disparages an individual or group) about their own groups to increase how much people like them individually.

Another area of Borgella’s research involves within-group bias. We are all familiar with racial bias – the tendency for stigmatized racial groups to receive more negative attributions than non-stigmatized racial groups – but a more understudied domain is how biases persist within a racial group. For example, research has shown that people apply more negative stereotypes to more “stereotypical” looking Black people. This bias can translate into discriminatory outcomes as well; for example, some research has demonstrated an increased likelihood of being sentenced to death based on Black-stereotypicality in certain contexts. Within-group bias can extend beyond physical appearance, as well. For example, some of Borgella’s work examines differences in perceptions of competency between individuals with stereotypical Black-American names (e.g., Jamal) and those with stereotypical African names (e.g., Adewale).

Courses Taught

  • PSYC 101: Principles of Psychology
  • PY/SO 371: Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • PY/SO 210: Social Psychology