About the Talk
Americans from all walks of life aspire to attain high levels of education and to live happy and healthy lives. Whether they attain those aspirations however, depends in part on the affordances (and drawbacks) of the contexts they are embedded in and the messages communicated to them by those contexts. In this talk, Lewis will share recent findings from his program of research that has been systematically examining how four levels of communication contexts – interpersonal, group, organization, and neighborhood – interact with identity processes to shape the meaning people make of the messages they encounter in their lives. He will also discuss the downstream consequences of those meaning-making processes for motivation and behavior. Throughout the talk, Lewis will highlight the implications of this research for communication theory, as well as interventions to reduce aspiration-attainment gaps, and social disparities more broadly.
About the Speaker
Neil Lewis, Jr. is Assistant Professor of Communication and Social Behavior at Cornell University with graduate faculty appointments in Communication and Psychology. He also holds a joint appointment in the Weill Cornell Medical College Division of General Internal Medicine as Assistant Professor of Communication Research in Medicine.
Lewis’s research examines how interpersonal, group, organizational, and neighborhood-level communication processes interact with identity and social contextual factors to influence people’s motivation to pursue their goals, and their success in goal pursuit efforts. He is particularly interested in these processes as they relate to understanding and addressing disparities in education, health, and environmental outcomes. This research has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed outlets across the social sciences including Psychological Science, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Behavioral Science and Policy, and Social Issues and Policy Review. It has also been featured in mass media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Forbes Magazine, and National Public Radio. Lewis received his B.A. in Economics and Psychology from Cornell University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.
In addition to writing research articles, practitioner manuals, and summaries of research for public consumption (e.g., op-eds), Lewis also writes a monthly scientific professional development column for Science, entitled Letters to Young Scientists.