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Structure Department of Developmental Psychology and Socialisation
Telephone 0498276362
Qualification Professore associato confermato
Scientific sector M-PSI/05 - SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
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Notice and additional information
Next office hours: 09/16/2019; 09/30/2019

Research lines, with some of the specific issues proposed for PhD students:
- Language and Social Cognition
- Persuasive vs. informative communication
- Spatial Cognition: spatial bias and their relation to social cognition
- Perception and Social Cognition, which relation, which moderators
-conspiracy beliefs & bullshit sensitivity

Office hours
Friday from 15:30 to 17:30 via Venezia 12_ secondo piano studio 21
(updated on 03/11/2019 11:46)

Proposals for thesis
1. Women’s rights
Sexual harassment is a critical issue and one of the fiercer expressions of gender inequality. This line of investigation aims at studying the relation between structural gender inequality and collective actions (e.g., #metoo moment or sex-strike).
A second line of investigation concerns the role of virtual reality for perspective taking trainings to reduce victim blaming.

2. Language and cognition: politically correct
There are many studies that show the link between linguistic style and cognition (Chiu, Leung and Knwan, 2007). The primary goal of this research line is instigating language use and language effects in the social field by to identify new speicifc guidelines to avoid social discrimination in the language. Literature has already shown the role of various linguistic categories in social cognition, comparing the use of nouns and adjectives (Carnaghi, Maass, Gresta, Bianchi, Cadinu, Arcuri, 2008), or adjectives and verbs (LCM, Semin and Fiedler, 1988). The present project aims to investigate the role of articles (determinative vs. indeterminative) in social cognition, hypothesizing that indefinite articles (eg, An immigrant was arrested at the station in Padua) contribute to the transmission and maintenance of stereotypes more than the determinative ones (the immigrant was arrested at the station in Padua). Given the important social implications of research, care will be taken to maximize the ecological validity of the studies by combining archive research on the language used in the mass media with experimental research.
A second area of investigation that has to do with the link between cognition and language is the study of metaphors and linguistic connectors.

3. Wealth Inequality (WI): The wealth owned by the eight richest persons in the world is equivalent to the wealth owned by the poorest 50% of the world, and things are getting worse. The increasing WI is associated with important health and social problems such reduced life expectancy, enhanced criminality and mental health issues, reduced levels of trust happiness and life satisfaction (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009).
Data consistently show that people underestimate inequality, yet wishing for more equal societies (Norton, 2011). This line of studies investigates the asymmetry between being ready to redistribute reducing taxation to the poor and being reluctant to enhance taxation for the top richest portion of the population. Antecedents and consequences are investigated.

4. Fake news, Conspiracy theories and trust in science
Skepticism toward science is emerging in recent movements questioning vaccination safety or climate change. Often the skepticism is associated with conspiracy beliefs that undermine the trust in institutions, suggesting simple and engaging explanations of complex events. This line of research addresses the cognitive and motivational underpinnings of such beliefs and the communication strategies (e.g, false balance phenomena) that may contribute to decision making.

Curriculum Vitae
Caterina Suitner is currently a social psychology assistant professor at the University of Padova where she teaches the master degree course Social influence and persuasion. In 2017 she visited for one semester The New School for Social Research
(NY) where she taught Psychology and Social Policy; in 2007, she visited for one year the University of Melbourne collaborating with prof. Yoshi Kashima and prof. Nick Haslam. She obtained her PhD in 2009 and her doctoral dissertation was awarded the national prize as the best dissertation in Social Psychology by the Italian Association of Psychology (AIP). In 2012 she taught Communication and Persuasion (undergraduate level) at University of Padova. She has supervised several under- and post- graduate students, co-supervised one PhD student, supervised two post-doc researchers. She is an active member of the scientific community being associate member of the European Association of Social Psychology (EASP), member of several assessment committees for PhD candidates in Social Psychology (at La Sapienza University, Rome; ISCTE-IUL, University of Lisbon and ISPA; University of Otago), reviewer for the top journals in her field and member of the Executive Committee of the social session of the Association of Italian Psychologists (AIP). Her main research areas focus on the relation between language use and social cognition, on Trust in Science, and on the role writing direction in social targets’ representations from an embodied perspective (i.e., Spatial Agency Bias). She is also interested in cross-cultural psychology and stereotyping. Her research is published in journals such as Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Journal of Experimental Psychology, European Journal of Social Psychology, and Social Cognition. Her research has been funded by both National (Italian Ministry of education) and International (European Association of Social Psychology) organizations.

Lecturer's Curriculum (PDF): 55C3F2D5E9400D02D6F95ED6B1978BAC.pdf

Research areas
1. Embodiment and its boundary conditions

According to the embodied cognition approach, the body, its perceptions and motoric experiences are critical for both concomitant (online) and postponed (offline) higher cognitive processes (Barsalou, 1993, 2008;Wilson, 2002). This research line aims to individuate the boundary conditions of grounded cognition, investigating moderators such as construal level (Liberman, Trope, 1998; GLOMO SYSTEM, Forster, 2012), mortality salience (Terror Management Theory, Solomon, Greenberg e Pyszczynski, 1991), and mindfulness (Bishop e colleghi, 2009).

Barsalou, L. W. (1999). Perceptual symbol systems. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 577–660.
Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 9(4), 625-636.
Förster, J. (2012). GLOMOsys The How and Why of Global and Local Processing. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(1), 15-19.¬¬
Greenberg, J., Solomon, S., & Pyszczynski, T. (1997). Terror management theory of self-esteem and cultural worldviews: Empirical assessments and conceptual refinements. Advances in experimental social psychology, 29, 61-139.
Bishop, S.R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., et al. (2004). "Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition", Clin Psychol Sci Prac 11:230–241.

2. Language and cognition: politically correct

This research line aims to investigate the role articles, metaphors, connectors and abstraction level in the field of social cognition.

Chiu, C. Y., Leung, A. K., & Kwan, L. (2007). Language, cognition, and culture: Beyond the Whorfian hypothesis.
Lakoff, G. (1993). The contemporary theory of metaphor. Metaphor and thought, 2, 202-251.

3. Objectification: which object for which person?

This research line aims to investigate the content of objectification (Frederickson & Roberts, 1997) of men and women, according to sexual orientation. The difference between aesthetic and instrumental objectifications is specifically investigated (Bartky, 1990,Fitzsimons e Shah, 2009).

Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory. Psychology of Women quarterly, 21(2), 173-206.
Bartky, S. L. (1990). Femininity and domination: Studies in the phenomenology of oppression. Psychology Press.
Fitzsimons, G. M., & Shah, J. Y. (2009). Confusing one instrumental other for another: Goal effects on social categorization. Psychological Science, 20(12), 1468-1472.


Lecturer's Publications (PDF): 55C3F2D5E9400D02D6F95ED6B1978BAC.pdf

List of taught course units in A.Y. 2019/20
Degree course code (?) Degree course track Course unit code Course unit name Credits Year Period Lang. Teacher in charge
PS2381 COMMON PSP3050672 6 1st Year (2019/20) Second
IF0315 COMMON SUP7079557 6 1st Year (2019/20) First
PS2295 COMMON PSN1030577 9 2nd Year (2019/20) First