Irmak Olcaysoy Okten is currently a Post-Doctoral Researcher at New York University. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Lehigh University. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and International Relations and M.A. in Social Psychology from Bogazici University. She is a first-generation college graduate.
Olcaysoy Okten's research investigates processes of person-perception and self-perception with a specific focus on the roles of memory and motivation in those processes.
Her work on person perception examines how people form and change their first impressions of others. What kind of characteristics people intentionally and unintentionally (i.e. spontaneously) infer from others' behaviors during initial encounters? When do they change their
intentional and unintentional impressions of others? She adopts a dynamic and theory-driven approach to understand unique and interactive effects of informational characteristics (e.g., consistency of actions), actor characteristics (e.g., group membership) and perceiver characteristics (e.g., political ideology, personal need for structure) in impression formation and change. Her work aims to shed light on the processes of stereotype construction in interpersonal and intergroup interactions.
Olcaysoy Okten's research on self-perception focuses on the targets of stereotype and investigates how the experiences of identity threat (i.e., the feeling that one's gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or another form of identity is being attacked or undervalued) are manifested in the construction of autobiographical memories. She is specifically interested in how women and ethnic minorities remember their experiences in stigmatized domains (e.g., STEM). How do identity-threatening memories (negative memories regarding a valued domain) shape their perceptions of self and valued domains? Is it possible for stigmatized individuals to update those memories, and thus reduce the effects identity-threat on self-perception and increase the motivation to succeed in those domains?