Dr. Isaac Sabat is a first year professor at Texas A & M. His research deals with barriers in the workplace that limit the effectiveness and well-being of stigmatized employees, including employees who are stigmatized on the basis of race, gender, disabilities, or sexual orientation among others. Dr. Sabat is associated with the department’s diversity sciences cluster.
Hi Isaac, Not everyone is familiar with Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
I/O Psychology is an interdisciplinary field of psychology in which we apply psychological theories from various subfields of psychology to the understanding organizations. We research how to select, train, reward, lead, and motivate people in order to simultaneously improve job performance and employee workplace experiences.
What research topic do you investigate?
My research focuses on all aspects of workplace diversity and discrimination. I study barriers faced by stigmatized employees as well as the strategies that organizations, stigmatized employees, and allies can engage in to reduce these barriers. Most of my current projects focus on hidden stigmas (e.g., LGBT, early stages of pregnancy, religion, invisible disabilities, and political orientations), and the outcomes of disclosing or concealing these identities in the workplace.
What are some of the things you discovered so far?
I have found that coworkers often find out about these hidden stigmas over time, and as a result, waiting too long to disclose can actually harm relationships. Although there are several boundary conditions, it seems as though disclosing early and often generally leads to improved psychological and interpersonal outcomes.
What is the life of a new professor like?
Ha, it is very busy, but also very exciting and fun. The first semester involved a lot of figuring out how to do things and setting up my lab space. However, Texas A & M provided me with a teaching release, so that made the transition process easier. Also, I have been meeting several people throughout the university and town, and learning about all of the activities/events that College Station has to offer.
Have you or will you teach undergraduate students?
I am currently teaching a course on the Psychology of Human Sexuality. I will also be teaching an undergraduate course on Workplace Diversity next year. Lastly, I mentor ten undergraduate research assistants for credit each semester within my workplace diversity lab.
Having just arrived here, what is your impression of the undergraduate students at Texas A & M?
I think they are very respectful and open to learning new things. I was worried about teaching such controversial topics, but I have had no issues whatsoever. In general, students here seem to enjoy discussing and debating these topics in a respectful and intelligent manner.