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Kristin Pauker

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Social Sciences psychology Associate Professor Kristin Pauker’s research on racial bias and ethnic identity was featured in the Sunday New York Times opinion section, “Want to Be Less Racist? Move to Hawaii.”

The column explores diversity in Hawaiʻi—both past and present—and the unique perceptions local people have in comparison to mainland counterparts about race and ethnicity based on geographic location, social interactions and culturally-shaped theories.

“The broader hope is to understand the factors that influence prejudice development and intergroup conflict in order to disrupt them. If we can understand these factors, we can create interventions to make intergroup interactions more positive and harness change, both in school and work environments,” said Pauker.

She added, “Hawaiʻi isn’t perfect when it comes to race relations and inequities still exist, but our context is different giving us a deeper understanding of how context, including an appreciation for the diverse culture and the environment we live in, can shape how we think about race and ethnicity.”

Jonathan Y. Okamura and Davianna Pōmaikaʻi McGregor, professors of ethnic studies at UH Mānoa, are quoted in the article. UH Mānoa Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work professor Rebecca Stotzer’s recent research on prejudice against Micronesian’s is also referenced in the article.

Pauker is making significant contributions to developmental and social psychology in the areas of intergroup relations, racial bias, interracial anxiety and essentialist beliefs. Using cutting-edge methodology, she runs the Intergroup Social Perception Lab, with research particularly focused on the timely and important topic of racial prejudice. She joined UH Mānoa in 2011.

Pauker’s current research includes a National Science Foundation funded project comparing gender and race biases among 4–6-year-olds in five states: California, Washington, North Carolina, Connecticut and Hawaiʻi. By harnessing natural variation in exposure to diversity in different geographic locations of the U.S. among children from different backgrounds, this collaborative project will lead to a better understanding of how young children form gender and race biases.