My research focuses on how individuals interpret and derive meaning from positive and negative cues in the social environment. In particular, I am interested in how subtle gestures of respect can ignite change within an institution to increase belonging, interest, and motivation for underrepresented groups.

Education & Certifications

  • MA, California State University, Long Beach, Psychology (2014)
  • BA, University of Southern California, Psychology (2010)

Stanford Advisors

2019-20 Courses

All Publications

  • Research Microcultures as Socialization Contexts for Underrepresented Science Students. Psychological science Thoman, D. B., Muragishi, G. A., Smith, J. L. 2017; 28 (6): 760-773


    How much does scientific research potentially help people? We tested whether prosocial-affordance beliefs (PABs) about science spread among group members and contribute to individual students' motivation for science. We tested this question within the context of research experience for undergraduates working in faculty-led laboratories, focusing on students who belong to underrepresented minority (URM) groups. Longitudinal survey data were collected from 522 research assistants in 41 labs at six institutions. We used multilevel modeling, and results supported a socialization effect for URM students: The aggregate PABs of their lab mates predicted the students' own initial PABs, as well as their subsequent experiences of interest and their motivation to pursue a career in science, even after controlling for individual-level PABs. Results demonstrate that research labs serve as microcultures of information about the science norms and values that influence motivation. URM students are particularly sensitive to this information. Efforts to broaden participation should be informed by an understanding of the group processes that convey such prosocial values.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/0956797617694865

    View details for PubMedID 28459648

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5461186

  • To Grab and To Hold: Cultivating communal goals to overcome cultural and structural barriers in first generation college students' science interest. Translational issues in psychological science Allen, J. M., Muragishi, G. A., Smith, J. L., Thoman, D. B., Brown, E. R. 2015; 1 (4): 331-341


    Homogeneity within science limits creativity and discovery, and can feed into a perpetuating cycle of underrepresentation. From enhancing social justice to alleviating health and economic disadvantages, broadening participation in science is imperative. We focus here on first-generation students (FGS) and identify factors which grab and hold science interest among this underrepresented group. Might the culture and norms within science unintentionally limit FGS' participation? We argue that two distinct aspects of communal goals contribute to FGS' underrepresentation at different stages of the STEM pipeline: cultural perceptions of science as uncommunal (little emphasis on prosocial behavior and collaboration) and the uncommunal structure of STEM graduate education and training. Across 2 studies we investigated factors that catch (Study 1) and hold (Study 2) FGS' science interest. In Study 1, we find only when FGS believe that working in science will allow them to fulfill prosocial communal purpose goals are they more intrinsically interested in science. Yet, later in the pipeline science education devalues prosocial communal goals creating a structural mobility barrier among FGS. Study 2 found that FGS generally want to stay close to home instead of relocating to pursue a graduate education. For FGS (versus continuing-generation students), higher prosocial communal goal orientation significantly predicted lower residential mobility. We discuss implications for interventions to counteract the uncommunal science education and training culture to help improve access to FGS and other similarly situated underrepresented populations.

    View details for PubMedID 26807431

  • From Bench to Bedside: A Communal Utility Value Intervention to Enhance Students' Biomedical Science Motivation JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY Brown, E. R., Thoman, D. B., Smith, J. L., Allen, J. M., Muragishi, G. 2015; 107 (4): 1116-1135


    Motivating students to pursue science careers is a top priority among many science educators. We add to the growing literature by examining the impact of a utility value intervention to enhance student's perceptions that biomedical science affords important utility work values. Using an expectancy-value perspective we identify and test two types of utility value: communal (other-oriented) and agentic (self-oriented). The culture of science is replete with examples emphasizing high levels of agentic value, but communal values are often (stereotyped as) absent from science. However, people in general want an occupation that has communal utility. We predicted and found that an intervention emphasizing the communal utility value of biomedical research increased students' motivation for biomedical science (Studies 1-3). We refined whether different types of communal utility value (working with, helping, and forming relationships with others) might be more or less important, demonstrating that helping others was an especially important predictor of student motivation (Study 2). Adding agentic utility value to biomedical research did not further increase student motivation (Study 3). Furthermore, the communal value intervention indirectly impacted students' motivation because students believed that biomedical research was communal and thus subsequently more important (Studies 1-3). This is key, because enhancing student communal value beliefs about biomedical research (Studies 1-3) and science (Study 4) was associated both with momentary increases in motivation in experimental settings (Studies 1-3) and increased motivation over time among students highly identified with biomedicine (Study 4). We discuss recommendations for science educators, practitioners, and faculty mentors who want to broaden participation in science.

    View details for DOI 10.1037/edu0000033

    View details for Web of Science ID 000365610700013

    View details for PubMedID 26617417