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Catherine Thomas

I study poverty and inequality and their remedies using the insights of social psychology and lens of cultural psychology. My research seeks to uncover social psychological processes that undermine the economic mobility of people in poverty and simultaneously depress public will to address inequality, perpetuating systems of poverty and inequality. Yet, I show how brief social psychological interventions can interrupt these systems. Specifically, my research reveals how attending to culturally specific forms of agency and motivation can promote both social inclusion (e.g., status, dignity, social support) and economic inclusion (e.g., economic mobility, support for redistributive policies). In other words, my research aims to identify drivers of social and cultural inclusion, economic equity, and their interactions. In this work, I conduct lab and field experiments in the US and low- and middle-income countries, including in partnership with nonprofits and governments and with interdisciplinary teams of economists and sociologists. 

I am currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in Psychology at Stanford University and have a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University, M.Sc. in Global Mental Health from the University of London, and a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology from Yale University. In 2023, I'll be starting as an Assistant Professor in Psychology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan.

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Catherine Thomas

Stanford University, Department of Psychology
450 Jane Stanford Way

Building 420

Stanford, CA 94305

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