As part of her research as an assistant professor at the Anderson School of Management, Carolyn Dang is interested in how socioeconomic status influences people’s psychological makeup. She wants to know how they view the world, how they view others, how they think about themselves and how that influences their behavior.
A current study Dang is conducting involves measuring how a person’s socioeconomic status influences a person’s perception of power. She wants to understand whether feelings of power can be induced through socioeconomic status and the subsequent effect on empathy and helping behaviors.
She is also collecting data on how a person’s level of education influences social networks they form and a corresponding propensity to form stereotypes.
“Another stream of research that I do is on behavioral ethics,” Dang said. “I look at antecedents of why people do good or bad things. One project I am working on is the effect of rules on unethical behavior.”
Dang, working with other researchers at the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington where she completed her Ph.D., and Oregon State University, has already coauthored a paper published in “Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes” titled, “The role of moral knowledge in everyday immorality: What does it matter if I know what is right?” Researchers concluded that “moral knowledge appears to be an empowering force motivating those with it to act accordingly.” They concluded, “Knowledge seems to be an incredible force for good.”
She is coauthor on another paper that is now in the review and publication process at the “Academy of Management Review.” This paper,“Moralized leadership: The construction and consequences of ethical leader perceptions” looks at the individual and organizational factors that affect peoples’ perception of ethical leaders, and the subsequent behavioral consequences.
The opportunity to conduct social research is what attracted Dang to the University of New Mexico. She was impressed that undergraduate students actively participate in scientific research at Anderson, which means most students get some sense of how the process of research in social science works. Dang said that gives them a tool they can use to critically analyze research studies they encounter in class.
Just completing her first semester at ASM, she is interested in helping students understand human behavior and said it is "very satisfying to guide them toward new insights in the way they view a subject."
Dang came to the U.S. from Vietnam as a young child. Her family settled in an immigrant community in Southern California and she lived the immigrant experience. Her eyes were opened to the great diversity in the student experience when she attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate. She now shares the triumphs and obstacles of academic life with her sister, an ethnomusicologist and professor at New York University.
One of the things about UNM that fascinates Dang is its status at a minority-majority university. The diversity of the student population is an important resource for the kind of research she does into human behaviors, she said.
Dang is an assistant professor in the Department of Organizational Studies at Anderson School of Management. She will teach MGMT 306, Organizational Behavior and Diversity this spring.