Melanie Marie Henderson
Associate Professor of Psychology
B.A., Oberlin College
M.S., Ph.D., The University of Michigan
Melanie Henderson has been a member of the department since 2013. She is the department’s personality psychologist, interested in power and status, specifically how people recognize and use social power. The courses she teaches include: Personality and Assessment, Psychological Adjustment, and Introduction to Psychology.
Henderson is interested in the effects of social power on employee outcomes and overall organizational dynamics. Given that power has the potential to yield both positive and negative outcomes, she is especially interested in identifying factors that fuel these different outcomes. Her research projects have explored perspective taking, identity management strategies, and attachment style as factors contributing to power decisions and communication tactics.
Additionally, her research explores incivility in the workplace. These projects have investigated whether factors such as supervisors’ use of power (harsh versus soft/relational power tactics) and clarity/fairness of evaluation and discipline procedures act as antecedents to interpersonal treatment in organizations, and in turn employee occupational and psychological well-being. This line of research also examines the effects of power on a specific workplace outcome—sexual harassment, exploring the role of power in women’s perceptions of and reactions to harassment based on sex and gender.
Theoretically, her work identifies personality and contextual factors that contribute to positive and negative power outcomes, and the ways in which individuals choose to wield power. Her research examines the psychological factors that exacerbate or mitigate the potentially corruptive effects of power and aims to develop a deep understanding of the psychological processes that can channel power into socially constructive actions. Practically, her research has implications for understanding how power can be used in ways that enhance organizational members’ well-being and improve supervisor-subordinate relations.
Henderson thoroughly enjoys engaging in student-faculty research efforts and being involved in students’ scholarly development both inside and outside the classroom. She welcomes enthusiastic and initiative students who are interested in becoming involved in her lab as independent study students, Honors students, and research assistants.
When she’s not on campus, Henderson can be found playing vintage video games (Super Nintendo Donkey Kong being a top favorite), doing pilates, or training her pet parrots.