Kayla Pierce




Gender and Family, Social Psychology, Theory


Kayla Pierce is a PhD candidate in sociology and a University Presidential Fellow at the University of Notre Dame. Before joining Notre Dame’s graduate program in 2015, she received her master’s degree in sociology at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte (2015) where she was the Group Processes Lab Manager. She also received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Auburn University (2013).

Kayla’s research focuses on small group interactions, emotions, status, and identity. She is interested in testing social theories inside and outside the lab and using social psychological theory to explain and predict behavior in organizations, in families, and online. Her dissertation research investigates whether and how social status affects emotional contagion in task groups. This project also investigates whether specific emotions can disrupt or exacerbate status hierarchies in teams. She will use her findings to produce actionable recommendations for how groups and organizations can prevent the spread of harmful emotions. In her other projects, she is investigating 1.) the cognitive processing of clickbait (with Jessica Collett) and 2.) how race and gender impact credibility in the workplace (with Paige Ambord). Her research appears in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships and a book entitled Identities in Everyday Life.

In 2019, Kayla was awarded the Kaneb Graduate Student Teaching Award and her research has been funded by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts and the Center for the Study of Social Movements. Kayla was also elected to be the Graduate Student representative for the American Sociological Association’s Emotion Section (2019-2020).


Title: "Emotional Contagion in Status Hierarchies"
Committee: Erika Summers-Effler (co-chair), Jessica Collect (co-chair), David Gibson, Erin McDonnell