Identity & Intergroup Relations Lab

University of Pittsburgh


Research

In the Identity & Intergroup Relations Lab, we study how people experience and navigate intergroup contexts and how to intervene to improve intergroup relations and minimize group-based disparities.

How do People Experience and Navigate Intergroup Contexts?

For members of many stigmatized groups, identity concealment is a common and consequential tool for managing the stigma they may face. However, the full and specific scope of when and why people engage in identity concealment has long been unclear. To understand the scope of concealment's relevance, much of our lab’s work has focused on the twin questions when people feel they can conceal their identities (Le Forestier et al., 2020, European Journal of Social Psychology; Le Forestier et al., 2022, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; Le Forestier et al, 2024, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin; Le Forestier & Lewis, 2024, Nature Reviews Psychology), and when they feel they need to conceal their identities (Le Forestier & Lewis, 2024, Nature Reviews Psychology). In this work, we build from the idea that people’s intergroup experiences are best understood in context, and that explanations that use static identities as units of explanation do not adequately capture these experiences (Le Forestier & Lewis, 2024, Nature Reviews Psychology).

What are the Consequences of People’s Strategies for Navigating Intergroup Contexts?

Many (though not all) people who conceal their identities do so to avoid facing the consequences of stigma. We have found evidence that concealment may achieve this goal in some cases; people whose identities are more concealable report experiencing less prejudice, intergroup anxiety, and social identity threat (Le Forestier et al., 2022, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin). As a result, they are also more comfortable initiating intergroup interactions and ultimately have more diverse social networks (Le Forestier et al., 2020, European Journal of Social Psychology). At the same time, concealment can also carry steep costs. These costs can be interpersonal in nature; we have found that when someone is perceived to be concealing an identity, they are judged as immoral and unsociable and are less well-liked (Le Forestier et al., 2022, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology). These costs can also be personal in nature; we have found that concealing stigmatized identities is associated with worse mental and physical health (Le Forestier et al., 2024, Social Science & Medicine), possibly because it denies them access to important health information (Le Forestier et al., 2024, Psychological Science).

How can we Reduce Group-Based Disparities?

Compared to their dominant-group peers, members of many stigmatized groups face disparities in health, wellbeing, education, and career success that are vast and persistent. In our research, we learn about the social-psychological sources of these disparities and try to address them. For example, some of our ongoing work seeks to limit physical health disparities experienced by some stigmatized groups by capitalizing on what we have learned about why concealment undermines physical health (Le Forestier et al., 2024, Psychological Science; Le Forestier & Lewis, in progress). In collaborative work, we have also applied principles of social belonging to improve the experiences and outcomes of students from historically marginalized groups in higher education (Logel, Le Forestier, et al., 2021, Social Psychological and Personality Science; Walton… Le Forestier, et al., 2023 Science).

How can we Improve Intergroup Relations?

In our lab, we use multiple methods including big data and field intervention studies to document the harms of prejudice and find the best ways to reduce it. In collaborative work, we drew on millions of observations from the Stanford Open Policing Project and Project Implicit and found that counties with greater anti-Black bias exhibited larger disparities in rates of police traffic stops disfavoring Black drivers (Ekstrom, Le Forestier, et al., 2022, Psychological Science). Findings like this one bring the urgent need for scalable prejudice reduction into focus. In response, we develop naturalistic and scalable prejudice reduction interventions, such as by implementing intergroup contact through social media (Le Forestier et al., under review) and seek to identify the best ways to reduce prejudice through large-scale, comparative investigations of interventions to reduce prejudice and improve intergroup relations (Lai & Le Forestier, R&R, Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; Koyama, Le Forester, et al., in prep).


Publications

*Indicates undergraduate student

Published or In Press

Le Forestier, J. M., Skakoon-Sparling, S., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A. L. (In press). Experiences of stigma among sexual minority men during the 2022 global mpox outbreak. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity.

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A . L. (In press). Which identities are concealable? Individual differences in concealability. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. DOI: 10.1177/01461672231198162

Le Forestier, J. M. & Lewis, N. A. (2024). When and why people conceal their identities. Nature Reviews Psychology, 3, 489-498. DOI: 10.1038/s44159-024-00324-x

*Khudiakova, V., Le Forestier, J. M., & Chasteen, A. L. (2024). To mask or not to mask: The role of concealability beliefs, concealment behaviors, and community connectedness in autistic people’s mental health. Neurodiversity. DOI: 10.1177/27546330241255121

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A . L. (2024). Identity concealment may discourage health-seeking behaviors: Evidence from sexual minority men during the 2022 global mpox outbreak. Psychological Science, 35, 126-136. DOI: 10.1177/09567976231217416

Le Forestier, J. M., *Chan, E. W., *Shephard, R., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A . L. (2024). Why is concealment associated with health and wellbeing? An investigation of potential mechanisms. Social Science & Medicine, 344. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116529

Walton, G. M., Murphy, M. C., Logel, C., Yeager, D. S., Parker Goyer, J., Brady, S. T., Emerson, K. T. U, Panesku, D., Fotuhi, O., Blodorn, A., Boucher, K. L., Carter, E., Gopalan, M., Henderson, A., Kroeper, K. M., Murdock-Perriera, L. A., Reeves, S. L., Ablorh, T. T., Ansari, S., Chen, S., Fisher, P., Galvan, M., Kawakami Gilbertson, M., Hulleman, C. S., Le Forestier, J. M., Lok, C., Mathias, K., Muragishi, G. A., Netter, M., Ozier, E., Smith, E. N., Thoman, D. B., Williams, H. E., Wilmot, M. O., Hartzog, C., Li, X. A., & Krol, N. (2023). Where and with whom does a brief social-belonging intervention promote progress in college? Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.ade4420

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A . L. (2022). Concealment stigma: The social costs of concealing. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 101, 1-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2022.104340

Ekstrom, P., Le Forestier, J. M., & Lai, C. K. (2022). Racial demographics explain the link between racial disparities in traffic stops and county-level racial attitudes. Psychological Science, 33, 497-509 DOI: 10.1177/09567976211053573

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., Lai, C. K., & Chasteen, A. L. (2022). Subjective identity concealability and the consequences of fearing identity-based judgment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 48, 445-462. DOI: 10.1177/01461672211010038

Chasteen, A. L., Schiralli, J. E., Le Forestier, J. M., & Erentzen, C. (2022). Age stereotypes and ageism as facets of subjective aging. In Y. Palgi, A. Shrira, & M, Diehl (Eds.), Subjective views of aging: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031- 11073-3_13

Logel, C., Le Forestier, J. M., Witherspoon, E. B., & Fotuhi, O. (2021). A social-belonging intervention benefits higher-weight students' weight stability and academic achievement. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12, 1048-1057. DOI: 10.1177/1948550620959236

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., Lai, C. K., & Chasteen, A. L. (2020). Concealability beliefs facilitate navigating intergroup contexts. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50, 1210-1226. DOI: 10.1002/ejsp.2681

Chasteen, A. L., Bergstrom, V. N. Z., Schiralli, J. E., & Le Forestier, J. M. (2019). Age stereotypes. In D. Gu & M. E. Dupre (Eds.), Encyclopedia of gerontology and population aging. New York, NY: Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-69892-2_584-1

Under Review or Revision

Bartels, M., Le Forestier, J. M., Hug, A., Morgenroth, T., & Roselló-Peñaloza, M. (Revise and resubmit). The effects of essentialist and social constructionist notions on perceptions of “realness” and LGBTIQ+ experiences. Journal of Social Issues.

Lai, C. K. & Le Forestier, J. (Revise and resubmit). A comparative investigation of interventions to reduce anti-fat prejudice across five implicit measures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Lewis, N. A. & Le Forestier, J. M. (Revise and resubmit). A research pipeline for fostering and evaluating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In V. Esses, J. Dovidio, J. Jetten, D. Sekaquaptewa, & K. West (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Psychological Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A. L. (Under review). Can intergroup contact on social media reduce prejudice? Developing and testing a longitudinal intergroup contact field intervention on social media.

Le Forestier, J. M., Lassetter, B., & Neel, R. (Under review). Ingroup relevance appraisals: Structure and correlates of perceiving threats and opportunities from ingroups.

You, Z., Page-Gould, E., Thai, S., & Le Forestier, J. M. (In prep). The psychological boundaries of political groups.

In Preparation

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., You, Z, & Thai, S. (In prep). Multiple-group contact: Implications for prejudice reduction.

Le Forestier, J. M., Page-Gould, E., & Chasteen, A . L. (In prep). Statistical power for a set of tests.

SCORE Collaboration (In prep). Investigating the replicability of the social and behavioral sciences.


People

Principal Investigator

Joel Le Forestier

he/him/his

Dr. Joel Le Forestier is an assistant professor of social psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. Previously, he was a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University and a SSHRC doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, where he completed his PhD. He became a social psychologist in search of tools to reduce inequality and improve wellbeing for members of marginalized groups, and today his research interests span social-psychological interventions, identity management and self-presentation in intergroup contexts, and cross-group interactions. In his free time, he likes exploring the city and playing with his dog, Lily.

Lab Manager

Nalanda Ray

she/her/hers

Nalanda graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in psychology in 2024. She investigates how the presentation of intersecting social identities influences interpersonal perception. By studying this specifically in the context of harmful stereotypes and judgment within social interactions, she explores avenues by which discrimination of historically marginalized groups can be mitigated. In her free time, she (tries to) find a (somewhat healthy) balance between reading mystery books and sci-fi fantasy books, and she enjoys long walks and museum-hunting!

Graduate Students

The lab will be recruiting a graduate student to start in Fall 2025! For information, visit the Join the Lab page and the University of Pittsburgh's Social Psychology Program website.


Join the Lab

Prospective Graduate Students

The lab will be recruiting a graduate student to start in Fall 2025! To learn more about how to apply, visit the University of Pittsburgh's Social Psychology Program website.

Applications are equally welcome from prospective students whose interests deepen or broaden the lab's existing scope, and from those whose interests are theoretical or applied in nature. For information about the lab's current research areas, visit our Research page, or read our past papers.

In our lab, we have two ultimate goals. First, to learn about the basic, social-psychological processes that underlie people's intergroup experiences and the success and wellbeing outcomes that follow from those experiences. Second, to learn how to use those social-psychological insights to address important social problems.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are cornerstone values of our lab, as is developing a supportive and collaborative lab culture.

Prospective Post-Baccalaureate Fellows

The University of Pittsburgh runs a funded, two-semester post-baccalaureate program for students from under-represented groups. For information about the program and how to apply, visit the Hot Metal Bridge Program website.


Media

Writing for Public Audiences

Media Coverage


Tools

Validated Scale

Subjective Identity Concealability Scale
(Le Forestier, Page-Gould, Lai, & Chasteen, 2022)

Other Measurement Tools

Initiation of Intergroup Contact
(Le Forestier, Page-Gould, Lai, & Chasteen, 2020)

Situational Avoidance
(Le Forestier, Page-Gould, Lai, & Chasteen, 2020)

Infographics

Applying to Graduate School

Interviewing for Graduate School

R Packages

PridePalettes: Color Palettes Based on Pride Flags

SimulPower: Simultaneous Power Analysis for a Set of Statistical Tests


PridePalettes: Color Palettes Based on Pride Flags

PridePalettes is an R package that provides you with Pride flag color schemes to use in your R plots. It also comes with pre-made Pride flags using ggplot2.

Installing PridePalettes

Step 1:
Install the devtools package, which allows you to install packages from GitHub, if you don't have it installed already.
install.packages("devtools")Step 2:
Install PridePalettes.
devtools::install_github("joelleforestier/PridePalettes")

Using PridePalettes

Step 1:
Load the PridePalettes package.
library(PridePalettes)Step 2:
Make your graph!
The pride_palette function returns character vectors of HEX codes representing colors on the Pride flag of your choice, in the order they appear on the flag. So, supplying it to the arguments in your plotting function that require a list of colors will color your graph like the flag. For example, the following code creates a bar chart using the colors from the Philadelphia People Of Color Pride Flag:library(ggplot2)means <- c(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
groups <- c("A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", "H")
data <- data.frame(means, groups)
ggplot(data = data, mapping = aes(x = groups, y = means)) +
geom_col(aes(fill = groups)) +
scale_fill_manual(values = pride_palette("philly_poc_pride"))
PridePalettes also includes the flag function, which generates pre-made Pride flags using ggplot2. For example, the following code generates the Trans Pride Flag:flag("trans_pride")For additional guidance and a full list of available palettes, refer to each function's help page:?pride_palette
?flag

Colorblind-Friendly Palettes

While PridePalettes is primarily intended for use as a novelty, anyone who uses it for data visualization they intend to share with others should be mindful that not all Pride flags translate into in color blind-friendly palettes. However, some do! Those using PridePalettes for data visualization are encouraged to choose from the following list of flags that are colorblind-friendly for three of the most common forms of colorblindness (i.e., protanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia).

  • Agender Pride Flag

  • Aromantic Pride Flag

  • Asexual Pride Flag

  • Genderqueer Pride Flag

  • Nonbinary Pride Flag

  • Pansexual Pride Flag

  • Trans Pride Flag


SimulPower: Simultaneous Power Analysis for a Set of Statistical Tests

SimulPower is an R package for simulating simultaneous power for a set of statistical tests.SimulPower is a work-in-progress. The current version is Version 0.8.0, updated in July 2021. While you may feel free to use it, please also check back for updates in the future. If you have feedback, I'd love to hear it via email!

Installing and Using SimulPower

Information for installing and using SimulPower can be found here: https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/w96uk.

Citing SimulPower

Le Forestier, J. M. (2020). SimulPower: Simultaneous power analysis for a set of statistical tests. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/w96uk.