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Image by Zach Reiner

Welcome to the CHIP Lab

Welcome to the CHIP Lab at the University of Virginia! The CHIP Lab investigates how individuals perceive themselves, others, and social policy. The lab particularly focuses on how identity and cultural-historical contexts matter for these perceptions and can provide insight into persistent policy issues in the U.S.

The CHIP Perspective


Culture shapes our worldviews and how we understand ourselves & others. Like the air we breathe, culture surrounds us yet is not always visible From a cultural psychological perspective (Markus & Kitayama, 2010), cultural contexts shape our understanding of what it means to be a good person or self. Foundational cultural ideas about how to be a good self (e.g., independent, self-reliant) are transmitted to individuals by institutions of the culture (e.g., school, media) and through their interactions within the culture (e.g., other people, social norms). Importantly, this relationship is “mutually constituting,” meaning that as a culture shapes individuals, individuals in turn shape the cultures in which they are embedded.


Objectively, history has happened and shapes human psychology in the present. Yet, how we remember & reckon with history is subjective and biased History is a feature of one’s culture. In seeking to understand the psychology underlying pressing social issues today it is critical to understand the historical trajectory leading to the present moment (Trawalter, Higginbotham, & Henderson, 2022). On the other hand, our mental representation of history in time and its consequences for the presnt are biased by how we feel about ourselves, others, and what the history may implicate for people to which we feel most similar.


Identity is highly complex but at its root, identity refers to one's sense of self. And our identity is deeply shaped by the groups to which we feel we belong From a social psychological perspective, the groups we belong to reflect on the self, and therefore individuals are motivated to feel positively about the groups they belong to. Threats to these same groups can also be perceived as a threat to the self. Given the important role of group memberships to individual psychology and the structural importance placed on group memberships in many societculturesy, a person's social identity is complex and dynamic and intersectional.


Policy is a set of ideas or a plan of what to do that has been agreed to officially by a group of people, organization, or government. What role does culture, history, and identity play in what policies individuals support or oppose? In the CHIP lab, we seek to understand this question broadly but so far have focused on the following policy domains: firearms, schools, voting, and history education and repair.

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