Jeanine Skorinko hopes her research into how humans think, behave, and interact with others will make the world a better, more equitable place.

Why did you pick the branch of science you are in?

It fit. I was always curious about people—thoughts, decisions, interactions, cultures. It led me to double major in psychology and anthropology in undergrad, and I discovered through my experiences that I thought more like a psychologist.

What are the biggest misperceptions people have about scientists?

For psychological science, it is that we’re reading everyone’s minds, analyzing everyone we meet, and that we have obsessions with couches. Also, the fact that people think psychological science isn’t a science or it is somehow “easy.” I’ve never understood how understanding the mind and why we do what we do is considered “easy.”

What’s something you do that reminds you that you are an #ActualLivingScientist?

I study living people! I observe the world around me to develop research questions to better understand how we think, behave, and interact with others. You can’t get more “living” than that.

I am a scientist and I…

…study people! I conduct experiments and other types of methodologies (e.g., interviews, focus groups) to answer research questions. I collaborate with others in psychology and other disciplines to answer research questions, as well.

How do you hope your scientific contributions will impact the world?

Ultimately, my research goal is to make the world a better, more equitable place. I do this by examining how subtle factors (like stereotypes) influence how we perceive ourselves, how we perceive others, and how we treat other people. In the end, I hope this work enables us to understand how we can promote equality, diversity, and cultural understanding.

How has WPI helped you prepare students to become an #ActualLivingScientist?

I get my students active and conducting their own psychological science research projects. They get to conduct observations studies, survey others on topics related to the course, conduct mini experiments, and just see connections between what we are learning in class (theory) and the real world (practice). We also learn to think and talk about tough topics related to gender and sexual identity, racial issues, cultural similarities and differences, sex, abuse, and more. Additionally, every term I have five to ten students helping me in the research lab conduct the experiments that we do. These students aren’t always psychological science majors and minors; many are just interested in psychology and science and getting a different experience.