Sharon G. Goto

Professor of Psychological Science and Asian American Studies
With Pomona Since: 1995
  • Expertise


    Sharon Goto studies culture with a focus on how culturally based differences in self-construal affect the way visual stimuli are semantically processed. Using neural and behavioral measures, our lab has shown that individuals with interdependent self-construal (collectivists) tend to process contextual information while individuals with independent self-construal (individualists) tend to focus solely on foreground objects. We have recently shown that cultural priming affects the way biculturals process this information. In contrast to models assuming universal cognitive processes, people THINK differently depending on 'cultural frame' (e.g., North American versus East Asian). Our lab uses this and other information to understand how bicultural individuals effectively negotiate cultural differences at work versus home, and how Asian Americans, in particular, experience discrimination in organizational settings.

    Research Interests


    • How Asian American populations perceive and negotiate their experiences in organizational contexts
    • How Asian American populations experience the glass ceiling
    • Intergroup relations between Asian Americans and other racial groups
    • Strategies for success in organizations such as culture specific mentoring groups


    • How culture and context affect neural activity
    • How cultural constructs affect intercultural interaction
    • The development and validation of multi-method measurements of cultural constructs
    • The relationship between culture and cognitions about the self
    • The attitudes, values and norms characterizing individualism and collectivism particularly in acculturating populations


    • How interactions between individuals from culturally disparate groups affect intergroup attitudes
    • The effects of majority and minority group membership on satisfaction with interactions
    • How cultural identity and perceptions of historical conflict affect intergroup relations.

    Areas of Expertise

    • Asian American Population
    • Cross-Cultural Psychology
    • Cultural Psychology and the Brain
    • Intergroup Relations
    • Asian American Glass Ceiling
  • Work


    Some representative publications.  (*asterisks indicate undergraduate collaborators):

    *Fong, M., *Moore, C., *Zhao, T., *Schudson, Z., Goto, S.G., & Lewis, R.S. (2014).  Switching Between Mii and Wii:  Cultural Priming Effects on the N400.  Culture and Brain, 2, 52-71.

    Goto, S.G., *Yee, A., *Lowenberg, K. & Lewis, R.S. (2013).  Cultural differences in sensitivity to context: Detecting affective incongruity using the N400.  Social Neuroscience, 8, 63-74.

    Goto, S.G., *Ando, Y., *Huang, C., *Yee, A., & Lewis, R.S. (2009).  Cultural differences in the visual processing of meaning:  Detecting incongruities between background and foreground objects using the N400.  Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Advanced access published 9/29/09, 1-12.

    Hwang, W.C., & Goto, S.G. (2008).  The impact of perceived discrimination on the mental health outcomes of Asian American and Latino college students.  Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14(4), 326-335.

    Weekes, N.Y., Lewis, R.S., Garrison-Jakel, J., Patel, F., Goto, S.G., & Lupien, S. (2008).  The effect of an environmental stressor on gender differences on the awakening cortisol response. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 33, 772-776.

    Lewis, R.S., Goto, S.G., & *Kong, L. (2008).  Culture and Context:  East Asian American and European American Differences in P3 Event-Related Potentials and Self-Construal.  Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(5), 623-634.

    *Liu, F.F. & Goto, S.G. (2007).  Self construal, mental distress, and family relations:  A mediated moderational analysis with Asian American adolescents.  Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 13(2), 134-142.

    Goto, S.G. & Chan, D.K.S. (2005).  Becoming friends or remaining foes:  An empirical test of a causal model of intergroup contact across cultures.  International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 29, 197-216.

    Chan, D.K.S., & Goto, S.G. (2003).  Conflict resolution in the culturally diverse workplace:  Some data from Hong Kong employees.  International Journal of Organizational Behavior, 52(3), 441-460.

    Goto, S.G., Gee, G., & Takeuchi, D.T. (2002).  Strangers Still?  The Experience of Discrimination Among Chinese Americans.  Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2),  211-224.

    *Kim, C.Y., Goto, S.G., *Bai, M., *Kim, T., & *Wong, E. (2002)  Culturally congruent mentoring:  Predicting Asian Americans student participation using the Theory of Reasoned Action.  Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

    Trafimow, D., Triandis, H.C. & Goto, S.G. (1991).  Some tests of the distinction between the private self and the collective self.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  60(5), 649-655.

  • Education


    Ph.D. in Social Psychology with minors in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Quantitative Psychology
    University of Illinois

    Master of Arts
    University of Illinois

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Asian American Psychology
    • Industrial/Organizational Psych
    • Psych Approaches Study of People
    • Senior Seminar in Asian American Studies: Applications, Analysis, and Future Directions
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    2015-2016 Sontag Award for Toward a Theory of Cultural Context Effects: Development of N400 Protocol

    Research Fellow, Associated Kyoto Program, Doshisha University, 2011.

    Irvine Faculty Fellowship for Student Mentoring, Pomona College, 2002-2003.

    National Science Foundation, Research Grant, "Establishment of a High-Density Event-Related Potential Laboratory at an Undergraduate College for the Study of Cognitive Neuroscience," 2001

    The Institute for Health Policy Studies of the University of California, San Francisco, and the California Work and Health Survey, "The Antecedents and Consequences of Work Place Discrimination Experienced by Asian Americans," 1999

    Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1998