Hello, my name is Colin Zestcott.

Thank you for visiting my website! I am currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Geneseo.  I’m originally from Minneapolis, MN and received a B.A. in Psychology from Macalester College in 2012 and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Arizona in 2017.  My research broadly examines the role of implicit and explicit processes in how people understand the self and others. 


Overview. Research in the Social Cognition Lab broadly examines how implicit and explicit processes contribute to prejudice and stereotyping, health disparities, and embodiment.

I. Bias against tattooed individuals. While the contemporary study of implicit attitudes toward stigmatized individuals primarily focuses on predetermined attributes like gender and race, our lab is interested in implicit bias toward individuals who possess more controllable and volitional stigmatizing signs, like tattoos. Presently, society may not view tattoos as particularly deviant due to the growing popularity of this form of body art. However, at the implicit level, if perceivers process a tattoo as a disfigurement, or if it automatically activates negative cultural stereotypes about traditionally stigmatized groups like criminals or gang members, the presence of a tattoo might engender prejudice and discrimination toward the person who displays it (Zestcott, Bean, & Stone, 2017; Zestcott, Tompkins, Kozak Williams, Livesay, & Chan, 2018). Our current work on perceptions of tattooed individuals assesses implicit attitudes toward tattooed women and the potential consequences for individuals who display a tattoo in healthcare and workplace settings.

II. Implicit bias in healthcare. Another line of work in the Social Cognition Lab investigates how automatic or unconscious attitudes manifest in healthcare. In a recent chapter, we review the literature examining how a patient’s implicit associations toward health related attitude objects contribute to their own personal health outcomes (Zestcott & Stone, in press). However, prejudices and stereotypes held by healthcare providers may also steer patients down an avenue that leads to negative health outcomes. In a recent review paper (Zestcott, Blair, & Stone, 2016), we evaluate how implicit bias held by healthcare providers contributes to health disparities faced by patients with stigmatized group identities. Our review suggests that implicit bias undergirds health disparities via two paths: (1) by affecting provider’s judgments and medical decisions, and (2) by influencing patient’s perceptions, judgments, and trust with their provider, which in turn, may negatively impact patient’s engagement and adherence to treatment. Our current work continues to document the presence of negative implicit attitudes toward stigmatized patient groups and outlines strategies to decrease implicit bias among healthcare providers.

 III. Reducing bias toward stigmatized targets. Our interest in understanding implicit and explicit prejudice also extends to investigating how stigmatized targets can reduce prejudice held against them. Our work has examined strategies non-target athlete bystanders who witness racist behavior aimed at a teammate of color are willing to endorse during a sport competition (Zestcott & Brown, 2015). However, while non-target bystanders may have a number of effective confrontation strategies available at their disposal, research suggests that stigmatized targets may experience greater difficulty when confronting prejudiced individuals due to increased backlash. In response to this paradox, the target empowerment model (Stone, Whitehead, Schmader, & Focella, 2011) postulates that stigmatized individuals may be able to use subtle strategies to avoid such negative responses from prejudiced individuals. Our current work explores ways in which stigmatized target’s ability to reduce implicit prejudice.

IV. Embodied Cognition. Research in embodied cognition suggests that bodily experiences can unconsciously influence social cognition. Our work proposes that embodied effects are subject to dual processes such that the body can automatically provide information in an implicit manner, but if something in the social context draws conscious attention to what the body is sensing, conscious or explicit processing attenuates or eliminates the use of the body as information (Zestcott, Stone, & Landau, 2017). Currently, we extend this work to understand the role of conscious attention in embodiment on voting intentions and pro-social behavior.


Zestcott, C. A., & Stone, J. (in press). Experimental evidence that a patient’s tattoo increases their assigned health care cost liability. Stigma and Health.

Zestcott, C. A., & Stone, J. (in press). The role of persuasion in health-related attitude and behavior change. In K. Sweeny & M. L. Robbins (Eds.) The Wiley encyclopedia of health psychology (Vol. II): The social bases of health behavior.

Liang, J., Wolsiefer, K. L., Zestcott, C. A., Chase, D., & Stone, J. (in press). Implicit bias toward cervical cancer: Provider and training differences. Gynecologic Oncology.

Zestcott, C. A., Tompkins, T. L., Kozak Williams, M., Livesay, K., & Chan, K. L. (2018). What do you think about ink?: An examination of implicit and explicit attitudes toward tattooed individuals. The Journal of Social Psychology, 158, 7-22.

Zestcott, C. A., Stone, J., & Landau, M. J. (2017). The role of conscious attention in how weight serves as an embodiment of importance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 431712-1723.

Lifshin, U., Greenberg, J., Zestcott, C. A., & Sullivan, D. (2017). The evil animal: A terror management theory perspective on the human tendency to kill animals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin43, 743-757.

Zestcott, C. A., Bean, M. G., & Stone, J. (2017). Evidence of negative implicit attitudes toward indiivduals with a tattoo near the face. Group Processes & Integroup Relations20, 186-201.

Zestcott, C. A., Blair, I. V., & Stone, J. (2016). Examining the presence, consequences, and reduction of implicit bias in health care: A narrative review. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 19, 528-542.

Zestcott*, C. A., Lifshin*, U., Helm, P., & Greenberg, J. (2016). He dies, he scores: Evidence that reminders of death motivate improved performance in basketball. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology38, 470-480.

Zestcott, C. A., & Brown, K. T. (2015). From the crowd to the competition: White athletes’ response to racism directed at a teammate of color. Current Psychology, 34, 634-643.

For reprints please visit my Research Gate or Google Scholar pages.


PSY 251: Intro to Behavioral Research Methods

This course explores the process of theory development, research design and ethics, data collection and analysis, and scientific communication.

PSY 350: Social Psychology

This course examines issues such as persuasion, aggression, prejudice, prosocial behavior, attraction, and the function of personality and situational influences in our daily lives.

PSY 355: Psychology of Personality

This course discusses trait, biological, behavioral, psychoanalytic, and humanistic approaches to personality, and understanding different personality types.

PSY 452: Psychology of Attitudes

This seminar based course focuses on how the social context determines our attitudes and beliefs, and in turn our behavior toward others.

Social Cognition lab

Email Dr. Z if you are interested in joining the lab for the Fall 2018 semester!

A little more about Colin.

Contact Colin.

Department of Psychology
SUNY Geneseo
Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: (585) 245-5532
Email: zestcott@geneseo.edu