Dr. Dover received her B.A. in Psychology from Claremont McKenna College in 2011. She then conducted her graduate work with Dr. Brenda Major at UC Santa Barbara, and received her Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences (emphasis in Social Psychology) in 2017. Tessa joined the faculty at Portland State in 2017.
Dr. Dover is looking for graduate students for Fall 2018! Please contact her with questions
Department of Psychology
317 Cramer Hall
Portland State University
1721 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97207-0751
Dr. Dover’s research investigates the psychological, biological, and behavioral effects of group-based fairness and unfairness. Specifically, she investigates how members of advantaged and disadvantaged groups behave in unequal social systems, and the ways in which these unequal social systems shape health and well-being. Her specific lines of research include:
- How discrimination and beliefs about fairness influence the psychological and biological resiliency of those disadvantaged by unequal social systems.
- The positive and unintended negative consequences of organizational diversity initiatives for under-represented groups.
- The subtle strategies that members of advantaged groups use to avoid the discomfort of acknowledging their own privilege.
Dr. Dover’s research utilizes several methodologies, including laboratory experiments, daily diary studies, and experimental work in applied legal and organizational settings. In her lab, she assesses an array of psychophysiological outcomes including cardiovascular, immunological, and hormonal functioning.
Diversity Cues in Organizational Contexts
My research on diversity cues assesses the role of ideologies, privileged vs. disadvantaged group membership, and other cues on responses to pro-diversity messages. With colleagues from University of Washington, UCLA, and the Maurer School of Law (at Indiana University), I have examined the role of companies' pro-diversity policies in shaping perceptions of discrimination claims. We have found that high-status group members are less likely to believe discrimination claims made by minorities when the company has (vs. doesn't have) pro-diversity policies--even in the face of evidence that the diversity policies are ineffective. For disadvantaged group members (e.g., Latinos), the effects of pro-diversity messages depend on whether they believe the social system in general is fair.
We have also expanded this work to the legal domain, investigating whether companies' pro-diversity policies influence the success of discrimination cases.
Additionally, we are investigating the physiological and behavioral consequences of pro-diversity messages among privileged and disadvantaged groups applying for or working within organizations. Young white men in a hiring simulation displayed a pattern of cardiovascular threat and made poorer impressions on their interviews when the company mentioned (vs. did not mention) diversity. Additionally, privileged group members making hiring recommendations for a pro-diversity company tend to display more in-group bias in their recommendations relative to those making making hiring recommendations in a neutral company.
For disadvantaged groups, the implications of organizational pro-diversity messages are less clear. Latino men in a hiring simulation report more positive feelings toward a company with (vs. without) pro-diversity messages, but do not uniformly trust the pro-diversity company. Additionally, a company's pro-diversity orientation may ironically attenuate the positive effects of being accepted for the position and exacerbate the negative effects of being rejected for a position.
Health and Resiliency of Disadvantaged Groups
My research on health and resiliency of disadvantaged groups focuses on the predictors and consequences of identity-related stressors. Specifically, I assess who tends to be best able to cope with identity-related stressors (e.g., discrimination, prejudice), whether "resilient" traits are stable across time and situation, and whether there may be trade-offs associated with attributing (vs. not attributing) negative treatment to discrimination. This research utilizes a combination of cardiovascular, hormonal, immune, self-report, and behavioral measures of health and resiliency. It also employs laboratory methodologies, diary methodologies, and longitudinal components to assess these big questions from many different angles.