The Wendy Wood Lab
Wendy Wood’s research lab focuses primarily on issues of habit performance, social influence, and gender differences in social behavior.
On habits, our research addresses everyday behaviors such as exercise, eating, and energy use, along with consumer purchase and consumption patterns. Habits develop as people repeatedly give a response in a stable performance context. Once habits form, perception of the context automatically brings to mind the habitual response. Typically, it’s easier to carry out the response in mind than to make a decision to do something else. Members of the lab study:
- How people suffer action slips by falling back into old habits.
- How some (good) habits promote goal attainment.
- How to change unwanted habits?
- The neural mechanisms associated with habit formation and performance
- Automatic, habitual stereotypes
On social influence, our research addresses how group members interpret issues in ways that make sense based on their ideological beliefs. Thus, Democrats might view welfare programs as humanitarian assistance, whereas Republicans might view them as government-induced dependency. In the lab, we study how people’s attitudes depend on such construals.
With respect to gender, Wendy Wood works with Alice Eagly at Northwestern University to develop and test a biosocial construction model of the biological and social mechanisms that underlie sex differences and similarities. The model outlines how nature and nurture interact to shape men’s and women’s social roles within a society. These gender roles then influence behavior through hormonal, self-regulatory, and social regulatory processes. Most recently, the lab completed a meta-analysis of menstrual cycle influences on mate preferences.