Graduate STEM Fellow Profile

Michael Magee

Project Title: City as Lab
Thesis: The Interpersonal Foundations of Anti-Atheist Prejudice
College/University: City University of New York - Brooklyn College
Research Advisor: Curtis Hardin
Degree Sought: Ph.D., Experimental Social Psychology
Department: Psychology
Research Focus: I am currently interested in the interpersonal foundations of social identification and intergroup prejudice.
Teaching Partner(s): Julius Buh-Mbi, Rony Charpentier

Description of Research

My research centers on the interpersonal foundations of social identification and intergroup prejudice. I am interested in how the important people in our lives mediate and moderate cognitions (both conscious and unconscious) implicated in the regulation of attitudes and beliefs comprising our multifaceted socially constructed—and shared—identity when we are presented with alternate, opposing, or otherwise contrasting ideas. Largely animated by shared reality theory, so far, my research has pursued the study of religiosity and anti-atheist prejudice with a particular emphasis on the impact parental relationships bestow on the modulation of religious experience. In particular, I am interested in how attachment dynamics might also characterize the health and vitality of religious beliefs and political attitudes.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience

The nature and specificity of my research interests are not relevant to our GK-12 project goals. However, I have integrated social and cognitive psychological constructs and methodologies into our GK-12 City-As-Lab projects and classroom activities. Our project centers on pollution in the community and part of the overall picture of pollution are the attitudes people have toward pollution. We learned how to assess attitudes through the construction of surveys, and learned about different ways we can assess attitudes using different types of items within the survey, including different methods of administration. Another component of our project centers on spatial thinking and knowing where we are in relation to our greater community and also where our data are located through geo tagging and plotting in geospatial software, such as My World GIS. To introduce this topic (and Cognitive Psychology), contained within the larger context of our placed-based and inquiry-based learning project and as a way to work toward learning to use My World GIS mapping software, we learned the Method of Loci, a highly visual, imaginative, and effective mnemonic device in which items from a list to be memorized are pegged to landmarks along a familiar journey. The Method is Loci also happens to be one of the most effective (if not the most effective) mnemonic techniques known. In teaching this method, we used terminology also used with the mapping software, like layers. Overall, the feedback from the students (and the teachers) has been overwhelmingly positive. Integration of social and cognitive psychological concepts and methods has expanded the scope of our project and enhanced both enjoyment and knowledge gained from the experience.