Rachel D. Arnett
Assistant Professor, The Wharton School
My research investigates the important role that identities and interpersonal interactions play in cultivating workplace inclusion and enabling professional advancement. My research can be divided into two main areas of work.
Cultivating Inclusion: Navigating Social Identity Differences
My first area of research investigates how people foster a sense of inclusion through the ways in which they conceal, express, and respond to social identity differences in interpersonal interactions. In one stream of work, I examine how individuals express cultural identities at work, and the influence that these actions have on coworkers’ inclusive behaviors toward one another. In a second stream of work, I highlight individuals’ attempts to cultivate social harmony and inclusion in a previously unstudied way – by concealing relatively high status identities. Finally, I examine a challenge to inclusion on a societal level by demonstrating that, physiologically, men readily learn to fear outgroup men even in novel intergroup settings. Each of these streams of work utilizes experimental methods.
Enabling Workplace Advancement: Constructing Professional Identities
My second area of research investigates how ascribed social identities (such as gender and social class) influence the professional identities that individuals construct, and the consequences for career choices, employee performance, and leadership attainment. For example, in one paper, I explore how people commit to desired professional and family identities, proposing a model of identity commitment that, at each stage, is easier for men than for women. In this area of research, I employ multiple methods and datasets – experiments, field surveys, and qualitative interviews.