Research

My research interest revolves around three areas about which I am deeply passionate: identity, beliefs, and group difference—the last of which includes topics related to race, hierarchies, inequality, inter and intra-group relations. I am interested in how those constructs interact with each other and the research questions that come from such interactions. For example, what is the relationship between lay, enhancing and debilitating beliefs about one's own atributes and situations of intertemporal discounting? What is the relationship between mindset inclinations and instances of successful rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system? What parts of our identity do we unknowingly conceal and express as a function of our group memberships? To what extent does the internalization of incremental theories of intelligence help decelerate individual as well as collective transgressive behavior? 

In a Lewinian fashion, in addition to building theory, I am equally interested in theory-based interventions that can help alleviate pressing societal issues. I want to better understand the role that social identity, beliefs, and intergroup relations play in diverse institutional and societal contexts. The populations most dear to my heart are children and adolescents in the school system and in the juvenile detention system––the latter, the population that cultural sociologist Orlando Patterson calls “the disconnected”—youth who are out of school and unemployed—and who are often excluded from procedural, evaluative, and declarative social networks of mobility, and subpopulations in organizational settings who are stigmatized in terms of deviation of personal and tribalized traits like race and ethnicity. The theoretical basis of my research comes primarily from organizational behavior, social, and developmental psychology. I find home in the cross-fertilization of theories, methods, and ideas from different fields.

I am currently a Ph.D. student in Management and Organizations at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a Research Affiliate in the Psychology of Intergroup Relations Laboratory at Harvard University. Before moving to Duke, I was involved in two laboratories, The Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations, led by the John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in memory of William James and of African and African American Studies, Jim Sidanius, and The Gilbert Lab, led by the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, Dan Gilbert. In the former, we explored questions that bear on fundamental intergroup organizational phenomena; in the the latter, we explored the hidden incentives that influence preferences, beliefs, and ideologies (I am extremely grateful for great mentors like Sa-kiera T.J. Hudson and Bethany Burum, who taught me the how and the why of reseach, in each of the labs; for a description of the current work in the Sidanius lab, please see this page). At Harvard, I directed the Brain and Cognitive Sciences thematic within The Future Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (link), and worked as a Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a Spring course on technology, learning, and motivation theory (link) and for a Fall course on the introduction of statistics for research (link). I was an Effective Altruism Fellow and a Service to Society Fellow at Harvard College, a Non-Resident Tutor and Race Relations Committee Member at Mather House at Harvard College, and facilitated senior thesis workshops with groups of bright and dedicated Mind, Brain, Behavior Harvard College seniors (link), as well as programs like the Management Development Program and the Family Engagement in Education Program. As a Magellan and Walker Institute Scholar, I travelled to the Amazon, Brazil, in order to assist the Anna Frank House with measuring the changes in leadership dispositions of students as they became peer guides in the Anna Frank traveling exhibits. In addition to having worked in research and teaching, I have also worked in business, for-profit and non-profit, as an entrepreneur. I have been fortunate to have won awards such as the Harvard University Dean's Distinction and the Leadership in Education Award, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and the USA Today New Century Scholar Award. I attended Midlands Technical College before attaining a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics with high honors and special distinction in research from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree in the interdisciplinary Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

In my free time, I enjoy reading philosophy, poetry, classical studies in social, developmental, and organizational psychology and neuroscience, fiction, and non-fiction. I also love reading, and often getting wonderful ideas from, academic work from fields like evolutionary biology and physics. My favorite poets are––long list––Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Drummond De Andrade, Fernando Pessoa, T. S. Eliot, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens. I love mentoring; I mentor pro-bono, and most recently volunteered as a chess teacher for incarcerated youth in the Judge Connelly Youth Center in the greater Boston, and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Central Midlands Council of Governments. I also greatly enjoy catching up with friends, exercising (resistance and endurance training), being tremendously goofy, playing chess, and writing. Website. Email: pedro_de_abreu@mail.harvard.edu