Lauren C. Howe © All rights reserved.

Stanford University

Social Psychologist

 Lauren C. Howe 

WHEN DOCTORS 'PRACTICING WHAT THEY PREACH' BACKFIRES

My dissertation research (with Benoît Monin) examined how doctors who emphasize their own commitment to a healthy lifestyle do not always inspire patients. Instead, fitter doctors can seem more judgmental of patients with some unhealthy habits. Overweight patients accordingly avoid healthcare from fitter providers. Click here to access a published paper on this research. We are currently exploring how a doctor exposing some unhealthy habits might make overweight patients more comfortable.

HOW A PROVIDER'S BEHAVIOR SHAPES PLACEBO/NOCEBO RESPONSES

This line of research (with Alia Crum) blends literature on placebo/nocebo effects and patient-physician relationships, investigating how the quality of a patient-physician interaction (e.g., a provider's perceived warmth and competence) influences whether a physician's positive or negative expectations about a course of treatment have an impact on patient health outcomes. We explore whether positive expectations have more potency in the context of a positive patient-physician relationship, and whether negative expectations might have a greater negative impact on health outcomes in the context of a positive patient-physician relationship. Click here to access a published paper on this research. 

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of my lines of research.

WHEN THE PEOPLE WHO BREAK YOUR HEART ARE EXPERTS ON WHO YOU ARE

This work (with Carol Dweck) examines how implicit theories of personality impact responses to rejection in the context of romantic relationships. We find that some people respond to rejection by questioning their self-definitions - in other words, wondering what the person who rejected them glimpsed about them and found undesirable. People who respond to rejection in this way are haunted more by the ghosts of their romantic past. In addition, we find that people with more fixed mindsets (i.e., who believe that personality does not tend to change) are more likely to see rejection as self-definitional. Click here to access a published paper on this research and click here to hear my interview on KQED about this topic.

WHEN SCIENTISTS EXPRESSING UNCERTAINTY INCREASES THE PUBLIC'S TRUST IN THEM

I'm interested in the communication of uncertainty and its effects on trust in scientists and policy attitudes. With Jon Krosnick and other collaborators, I worked on a nationally representative survey examining the public's opinions on global warming and adaptation policies. My contribution to the survey involved examining whether varying the level of uncertainty included with estimates of sea level rise affected the public's trust in environmental scientists and attitudes toward adaptation policies. For a longer description of the research and video of Jon and me presenting our findings at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., click here.

RESEARCH