Social Psychology Network

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Kathryn Oleson

Kathryn Oleson

  • SPN Mentor

My research interests lie primarily in the field of interpersonal perception, including perception of one’s self, individuals, and other groups.

Much of my research has examined the reactions of students' social selves in academic contexts, concentrating on self-doubt (Braslow, Guerretaz, Arkin, & Oleson, 2012), achievement goals (Oleson & Steckler, 2010), academic procrastination (Westgate, Wormington, Oleson, & Lindgren, 2017), and behavioral strategies (Oleson & Steckler, 2010). What are the achievement strategies that students use in challenging academic situations when they experience self-doubt about their ability to succeed? What are their achievement goals? How much effort do students exert and how do they interpret their effort expenditure in terms of their perceptions of their competence?

In previous research I have primarily focused on two strategies - subjective overachievement (Oleson, Poehlmann, Yost, Lynch, & Arkin, 2000) and self-handicapping (Arkin & Oleson, 1998) - and explored a variety of achievement goals. Yet there are a number of fascinating strategies that might be at work in Reed’s unique mastery-oriented academic environment in which students are assigned letter grades but only know their grades if they ask for them. For instance, I have a rich dataset that explores the ways that Reed students’ self-doubts, self-perceptions, achievement goals, and knowledge of their grades link up to achievement (grades across a 6-year period, graduation) in context. It includes cross-sectional comparisons of the student body as well as a longitudinal component including survey responses for students’ first five semesters at Reed. In addition, given Reed’s emphasis on mastering material rather than just getting high grades, it may be that achievement goals such as mastery-avoidance might be more prevalent at Reed than at colleges that are more performance-oriented (e.g., Federow & Oleson, 2011).

Currently, my primary research project is exploring ways to make the college classroom more inclusive, with a particular focus on classroom dynamics. Over the past two years in collaboration with a team of senior thesis students and research assistants, I have been conducting both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative research (nationwide on-line survey) exploring perceptions and classroom experiences. My focus is on undergraduate students’ and faculty members' understanding of unproductive and productive discomfort, safety, and learning in the classroom environment.

Primary Interests:

  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Person Perception
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity

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Journal Articles:

  • Batson, C. D., Oleson, K. C., Weeks, J. L., Healy, S. P., Reeves, P. J., Jennings, P., & Brown, T. (1989). Religious prosocial motivation: Is it altruistic or egoistic? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 873-884.
  • Braslow, M. D., Guerretaz, J., Arkin, R. M., & Oleson, K. C. (2012). Self-Doubt. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 470 – 482.
  • Casey, C. M., Wormington, S. V., & Oleson, K. C. (2012). Promoting comfort and confidence with conducting research through a pluralistic ignorance project. Teaching of Psychology, 39, 293 – 296.
  • Files, J. S., Casey, C. M., & Oleson, K. C. (2010). Intergroup bias in children: Development and persistence. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 671 – 678.
  • Grahe, J. E., Reifman, A., Hermann, A., Walker, M., Oleson, K.C., Nario-Redmond, M., & Wiebe, R. P. (2012). Harnessing the undiscovered resource of student research projects. Perspectives in Psychological Science, 7(6), 605-607.
  • Kunda, Z., & Oleson, K. C. (1997). When exceptions prove the rule: How extremity of deviance determines deviants' impact on stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 965-979.
  • Kunda, Z., & Oleson, K. C. (1995). Maintaining stereotypes in the face of disconfirmation: Constructing grounds for subtyping deviants. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 565-579.
  • Nario-Redmond, M. R., & Oleson, K. C. (2016). Disability group identification and disability- rights advocacy: Contingencies among emerging and other adults. Emerging Adulthood, 4(3), 207 – 218.
  • Neuringer, A., & Oleson, K. C. (2010). Helping for change. The Behavior Analyst, 181 – 184.
  • Oleson, K. C., & Darley, J. M. (1999). Community perceptions of allowable counterforce in self defense and defense of property. Law and Human Behavior, 23, 629-651.
  • Oleson, K. C., Poehlmann, K. M., Yost, J. H., Lynch, M. E., & Arkin, R. M. (2000). Subjective overachievement: Individual differences in self doubt and concern with performance. Journal of Personality, 68, 3, 491-524.
  • Westgate, E. C., Wormington, S. V., Oleson, K. C., & Lindgren, K. P. (2017). Productive procrastination: Academic procrastination style predicts academic and alcohol outcomes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 47(3), 124 – 135.

Other Publications:

  • Arkin, R. M., & Oleson, K. C. (1998). Self-handicapping. In J. M. Darley & J. Cooper (Eds.), Attribution and social interaction: The legacy of Edward E. Jones (pp. 313 - 347). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Batson, C. D., & Oleson, K. C. (1997). Altruism. In Renato Dulbecco (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human Biology, 2nd Edition. New York: Academic Press.
  • Batson, C. D., & Oleson, K. C. (1991). Current status of the empathy-altruism hypothesis. In M. S. Clark (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 12, pp. 62-85). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Batson, C. D., Shaw, L. L., & Oleson, K. C. (1992). Distinguishing affect, mood, and emotion: Toward functionally based conceptual distinctions. In M. S. Clark (Ed.), Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 294-326). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Darley, J. M., & Oleson, K. C. (1993). Introduction to research on interpersonal expectations. In P. D. Blanck (Ed.), Interpersonal expectations: Theory, research, and application (pp. 45 - 63). London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Oleson, K. C., & Arkin, R. M. (1996). Reviewing and evaluating a research article. In F.T. L. Leong & J. T. Austin (Eds.), The psychology research handbook: A guide for graduate students and research assistants (pp. 40 - 55). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Oleson, K. C., & Steckler, M. T. (2010). The phenotypic expressions of self-doubt about ability in academic contexts: Strategies of self-handicapping and subjective overachievement. In R. M. Arkin, K. C. Oleson, & P. J. Carroll (Eds.), Handbook of the uncertain self. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Courses Taught:

  • Interpersonal Perception
  • Research Design and Data Analysis
  • Social Psychology
  • Stereotyping and Prejudice
  • The Social Self

Kathryn Oleson
Department of Psychology
Reed College
Portland, Oregon 97202
United States of America

  • Phone: (503) 517-7498
  • Fax: (503) 777-7785

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