Lai receives Templeton grant to develop anti-bias intervention strategies

Headshot of Professor Calvin Lai

Calvin Lai, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has received a $230,000 grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. With an interdisciplinary team of researchers, Lai will examine the long-term efficacy of a new intervention program that will use empathy to promote social justice. The team includes Micah J. Wonjoon Kessel, a design strategist; Lisa Feldman Barrett, president of the Association for Psychological Science; Jennifer Beatty, a doctoral student in Lai’s lab; and Ashley Tudder, a postdoctoral research associate in Lai’s lab.

Existing programs to combat prejudice are often limited in their effectiveness. Lai and his collaborators hope to change that trend by using evidence-based practices to engage with participants’ emotional and cognitive understanding. They created a series of films in which people from marginalized communities share their experiences with discrimination and inequality. The goal is to give participants tools to understand others’ perspectives with more empathy.

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