Area of Expertise
Brent Lyons (pronouns: he/him/his) is an Associate Professor of Organization Studies at the Schulich School of Business and the York Research Chair in Stigmatization and Social Identity. His research involves the study of stigma in organizations and how individuals with stigmatized social identities, such as disability, navigate their work and interpersonal relationships to reduce consequences of stigmatization. Brent has published his work in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. His research has also been supported by multiple grants from SSHRC. Brent serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Prior to joining York University, Brent was an Assistant Professor of Management and Organization Studies at Simon Fraser University. He received his PhD in Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University in 2013.
The Stigma & Identity Lab: https://www.stigmaidentitylab.com/
2021 Seymour Schulich Teaching Excellence Award (Schulich TEA) Top Ten Instructor
2020 Strategic Management Society Best Paper Prize, Nominee
2020 Elected Representative-At-Large for the Academy of Management Gender & Diversity in Organizations Division
2020 Best Symposium Award, Academy of Management Managerial and Organizational Cognition Division, Nominee
2020 York Research Leader
2020, 2019 Showcase Symposium, Academy of Management Gender & Diversity in Organizations, Managerial & Organizational Cognition, and Organizational Behaviour Divisions
2019 Outstanding Reviewer, Journal of Management
2019-2024 York Research Chair (Tier II) in Stigmatization and Social Identity
2016, 2017 Teaching Honour Roll
Johnson, T.D., Lynch, J. and Lyons, B. (2020), "Gay and Lesbian Disclosure and Heterosexual Identity Threat: The Role of Heterosexual Identity Commitment in Shaping De-stigmatization", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 160, 1-18.
We examine how heterosexual employees respond to different gay and lesbian disclosure tactics aimed at de-stigmatizing the gay or lesbian identity. Drawing from theories of stigma disclosure, inter-group social identity threat, and heterosexual identity development, we examine how heterosexual employees’ responses to de-stigmatizing disclosure can be explained by their experience of heterosexual identity threat (i.e. the appraisal of disclosure as harmful to the value, meaning, and enactment of their heterosexuality identity) and how this process is shaped by individual differences in heterosexual identity commitment—or, differences in heterosexual employees’ commitment to a heterosexual identity that is fulfilling of their sense of self. Across four studies, we find that heterosexual employees are more threatened by gay and lesbian disclosure that is in opposition to heterosexual norms than disclosure that resonates with heterosexual norms and this threat explains the extent to which they derogate or embrace the gay and lesbian identity. Further, heterosexual employees’ identity commitment buffers their experiences of threat and attenuates the impact of threat on derogating and embracing responses. We discuss the implications of our research for advancing theory and research on stigma and disclosure in organizations, in addition to practical implications toward advancing inclusion through the consideration of majority identities.
Lyons, B., Lindsay, S., Rezai, M. and Shen, W. (2020), "A Disability Disclosure Simulation as an Educational Tool", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal.
Purpose: Many employers struggle with how to have a disability disclosure discussion with their employees and job candidates. The primary purpose of this study was to identify issues relevant to disability disclosure discussions. In addition, we explored how simulations, as an educational tool, may help employers and managers.
Originality/value: Developing a simulation on disability disclosure discussions is a novel approach to educating employers and managers that has the potential to help enhance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Further, the process that we followed can be used as a model for other researchers seeking to develop educational training scenarios on sensitive diversity and inclusion topics.
Design/methodology/approach: Seven participants (four employers and three human resource professionals) took part in this study. We used a qualitative design that involved two focus group discussions to understand participants’ experiences of building a simulation training scenario that focused on how to have a disability disclosure discussion. The simulation sessions were audio-recorded and analyzed using an open-coding thematic approach.
Findings: Four main themes emerged from our analysis. Three themes focused on issues that participants identified as relevant to the disability disclosure process, including: (1) creating a comfortable and safe space for employees to disclose, (2) how to ask employees or job candidates about disability and (3) how to respond to employees disability disclosure. A fourth theme focused on how simulations could be relevant as an educational tool.
O’Brien, K.R., Hebl, M.R., Lyons, B., Martinez, L.R., Roebuck, A., Ruggs, E.N. and Ryan, A.M. (2018), "To Say or Not to Say: Different Strategies of Acknowledging a Visible Disability", Journal of Management, 44(5), 1980-2007.
Individuals with visible disabilities can acknowledge their disabilities in different ways, which may differ in effectiveness. Across four studies, we investigate whether individuals with visible disabilities engage in different acknowledgment strategies (claiming, downplaying) and how and why these different strategies affect evaluations from others. Specifically, we draw from the Stereotype Content Model and Stereotype-Fit Theory to articulate a process whereby claiming and downplaying differentially affect others’ perceptions of competence and warmth, which subsequently affect overall evaluations of the individual with a disability. We found that individuals with visible disabilities intentionally manage others’ impressions by engaging in claiming and downplaying. Claiming strategies (relative to downplaying or not acknowledging) resulted in higher evaluations because they activated perceptions of competence and warmth and the benefits of claiming were stronger for jobs higher in interpersonal demands. We discuss the implications of these results for individuals with disabilities and for organizations.
Lyons, B., Pek, S. and Wessel, J.L. (2017), "Toward a “Sunlit Path”: Stigma Identity Management as a Source of Localized Social Change Through Interaction", Academy of Management Review, 42(4), 618-636.
We articulate a process through which individuals with a stigmatized identity can be agents of social change toward the acceptance and/or valuing of their identity in their workgroup. We posit that whether and how individuals communicate to others about their stigmatized identity (i.e., stigma identity management) can enable them to overcome their power disadvantage by influencing the meanings that the stigmatized identity and comparative dominant identities take on in negotiations of identity meanings. Drawing on theories of negotiated order, identity threat, and stigma identity management, we describe how changes in identity meanings emerge from an ongoing process of negotiations between stigma holders and their coworkers—negotiations that are influenced by and inform symbolic power relations and shared identity meanings in the group. We extend understandings of stigma identity management strategies by expanding beyond the current focus on outcomes for individual stigma holders toward how such strategies can change the local social context in which stigma holders and their coworkers interact.
Bushe, G., Lyons, B., Thompson, T. and Zatzick, C. (2017), "Stigma Identity Concealment in Hybrid Organizational Cultures", Journal of Social Issues, 73(2), 255-272.
Previous stigma identity management theory has considered organizational cultural pressures as unitary in either supporting or discouraging open identity expression, leading individuals to either disclose or conceal their identities, respectively. However, within many organizations are cultures with opposing demands for how individuals should express their stigmatized identities. We integrate theory on stigma identity management and institutional logics to develop expectations about how individuals with stigmatized identities manage their identities in organizational cultures with opposing demands for identity expression, namely, organizational cultures that are informed by both supportive and unsupportive logics. We consider how configurations of supportiveness–unsupportiveness, along dimensions of logic centrality and logic compatibility, affect stigma holders’ identity management choices and their well‐being and job performance. We argue that the consequences of affirming (e.g., disclosure) and distancing (e.g., concealing) identity management strategies vary depending on whether stigma holders comply with or resist against these hybrid configurations.
Ali, A.A., Lyons, B. and Ryan, A.M. (2017), "Managing a Perilous Stigma: Ex-offenders Use of Reparative Impression Management Tactics in Hiring Contexts", Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(9), 1271-1285.
Individuals with a criminal record face employment challenges because of the nature of their stigma. In this study, we examined the efficacy of using reparative impression management tactics to mitigate integrity concerns associated with a perilous stigma. Drawing on affect control theory, we proposed that the use of 3 impression management tactics-apology, justification, excuse-would differentially affect hiring evaluations through their influence on perceived remorse and anticipated workplace deviance. Across 3 studies, we found support for our proposed model. Our results revealed the use of an apology or justification tactic when explaining a previous criminal offense had a positive indirect effect on hiring evaluations, whereas the use of an excuse tactic had a negative indirect effect. These findings suggest applicants may benefit from using impression management tactics that communicate remorse when discussing events or associations that violate integrity expectations. (PsycINFO Database Record)
Alonso, N., Lyons, B., Volpone, S. and Wessel, J.L. (2017), "Disclosing a Disability: Do Strategy Type and Onset Controllability Make a Difference?", Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(9), Journal of Applied Psychology.
In hiring contexts, individuals with concealable disabilities make decisions about how they should disclose their disability to overcome observers’ biases. Previous research has investigated the effectiveness of binary disclosure decisions—that is, to disclose or conceal a disability—but we know little about how, why, or under what conditions different types of disclosure strategies impact observers’ hiring intentions. In this article, we examine disability onset controllability (i.e., whether the applicant is seen as responsible for their disability onset) as a boundary condition for how disclosure strategy type influences the affective reactions (i.e., pity, admiration) that underlie observers’ hiring intentions. Across 2 experiments, we found that when applicants are seen as responsible for their disability, strategies that de-emphasize the disability (rather than embrace it) lower observers’ hiring intentions by elevating their pity reactions. Thus, the effectiveness of different types of disability disclosure strategies differs as a function of onset controllability. We discuss implications for theory and practice for individuals with disabilities and organizations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Claartje, L., Johns, G., Lieke, L., Lyons, B., Ten, B. and Ter, H. (2016), "Why and When Do Employees Imitate the Absenteeism of Peers?", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 134, 16-30.
We aimed to shed light on the reason why individual employees adjust their absence levels to their co-workers’ absence behavior and under what conditions imitation is most likely by integrating social learning theory and social exchange theory. In Study 1, a vignette study among 299 employees, we found that respondents were more likely to call in sick when coworkers were often absent because respondents had more tolerant absence norms and more economic as opposed to cooperative exchange norms. This study also showed that employees strongly disapproved of absence and had stronger cooperative exchange norms when they worked in highly cohesive and task interdependent teams. In Study 2, a field study in 97 teams, we found that coworker absence was less strongly imitated under conditions of high cohesiveness and task interdependency. Our findings suggest that employee behavior is not only influenced by team norms about acceptable absence levels, but also by norms on what level of cooperation is expected. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Ali, A.A., Ehrhart, M.G., Lyons, B., Ryan, A.M. and Wessel, J.L. (2016), "The Long Road to Employment: Incivility Experienced by Job-seekers", Journal of Applied Psychology, 101, 333-349.
This study addresses how job seekers’ experiences of rude and discourteous treatment—incivility—can adversely affect self-regulatory processes underlying job searching. Using the social–cognitive model (Zimmerman, 2000), we integrate social–cognitive theory with the goal orientation literature to examine how job search self-efficacy mediates the relationship between incivility and job search behaviors and how individual differences in learning goal orientation and avoid-performance goal orientation moderate that process. We conducted 3 studies with diverse methods and samples. Study 1 employed a mixed-method design to understand the nature of incivility within the job search context and highlight the role of attributions in linking incivility to subsequent job search motivation and behavior. We tested our hypotheses in Study 2 and 3 employing time-lagged research designs with unemployed job seekers and new labor market entrants. Across both Study 2 and 3 we found evidence that the negative effect of incivility on job search self-efficacy and subsequent job search behaviors are stronger for individuals low, rather than high, in avoid-performance goal orientation. Theoretical implications of our findings and practical recommendations for how to address the influence of incivility on job seeking are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Leong, T.L., Lyons, B. and Wu, I.H.C. (2015), "How Racial/ethnic Bullying Affects Rejection Sensitivity: The Role of Social Dominance Orientation", Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 21, 156-161.
The authors built upon models of workplace bullying to examine how racial/ethnic bullying can lead to racial/ethnic minorities’ sensitivity to future discrimination via its effects on race/ethnic-related stress. With a sample of racial/ethnic minorities, they found support for this process. Individual differences in social dominance orientation (SDO) also attenuated the mediation: The indirect effect of race/ethnic-related stress was weaker for minorities who endorse hierarchy legitimizing ideologies (high in SDO) compared to minorities low in SDO. Practical implications for the management of minority employees’ experiences of discrimination are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)
Lyons, B., Ryan, A.M., Tai, Y.C. and Wessel, J.L. (2014), "Strategies of Older and Younger Job Seekers Related to Age-related Stereotypes", Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29, 1009-1027.
Purpose – Given the increasing diversity in the age of job seekers worldwide and evidence of perceptions of discrimination and stereotypes of job seekers at both ends of the age continuum, the purpose of this paper is to identify how perceptions of age-related bias are connected to age-related identity management strategies of unemployed job seekers.
Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected from 129 unemployed job-seeking adults who were participants in a career placement service. Participants completed paper-and-pencil surveys about their experiences of age-related bias and engagement in age-related identity management strategies during their job searches.
Findings – Older job seekers reported greater perceptions of age-related bias in employment settings, and perceptions of bias related to engaging in attempts to counteract stereotypes, mislead or miscue about one’s age, and avoid age-related discussions in job searching. Individuals who were less anxious about their job search were less likely to mislead about age or avoid the topic of age, whereas individuals with higher job-search self-efficacy were more likely to acknowledge their age during their job search. Older job seekers higher in emotion control were more likely to acknowledge their age.
Originality/value – Little is known about how job seekers attempt to compensate for or avoid age-related bias. The study provides evidence that younger and older job seekers engage in age-related identity management and that job search competencies relate to engagement in particular strategies.
Ghumman, S., Kim, S.Y., Lyons, B., Ryan, A.M. and Wessel, J. (2014), "Applying Models of Employee Identity Management Across Cultures: Christianity in the United States and South Korea", Journal of Organizational Behavior, 35, 678-704.
Identity management refers to the decisions individuals make about how they present their social identities to others. We examined cross‐cultural differences in distancing and affirming identity management strategies of Christian‐identified employees utilizing samples from the USA and South Korea. Religious centrality, risks of disclosure, pressure to assimilate to organizational norms, and nation were key antecedents of chosen identity management strategies. Risks of disclosure and pressure to assimilate related to more distancing and less affirming strategies when religious centrality was low, but nation served as a boundary condition for the moderating effects of religious centrality. Distancing strategies related to negative outcomes regardless of religious centrality, but affirming strategies only related to positive outcomes when religious centrality was low. We discuss how this work contributes to theoretical and practical understanding of identity management in the workplace and across cultures. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Cheng, C.H. and Lyons, B. (2012), "Not All Aggressions Are Created Equal: A Multi-foci Approach to Workplace Aggression", Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17, 79-92.
Types of perpetrators of workplace aggression can vary considerably, and recent research has demonstrated that aggression from different perpetrator categories has different implications for victims. We extended research on multifoci aggression and explored affective and cognitive pathways linking verbal aggression from four perpetrator types—supervisors, coworkers, customers, and significant others—and employee morale and turnover intention. Data from a sample of 446 working adults indicated that both emotional strain and employees’ corresponding judgments of their social exchange relationships with these perpetrators served as the mechanisms for the association between aggression from supervisors, coworkers, and customers and morale and turnover intention. Coworker aggression had a direct association with turnover intention and significant other aggression was related to turnover intention only through emotional strain. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Lyons, B, and Scott, B.A. (2012), "Integrating Social Exchange and Emotion Centered Explanations for the Receipt of Help and Harm: A Social Network Approach", Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 66-79.
We integrated theories of social exchange and emotion to explain the receipt of interpersonal citizenship (help) and counterproductive behaviors (harm). Using social network methodology, data on a total of 534 relationships were obtained from three samples of employees working for a food services organization. Results were consistent across all three samples. Employees received help and harm from coworkers toward whom they engaged in those behaviors, as well as from coworkers in whom they elicited positive and negative affective states, respectively. Additionally, affective states predicted the receipt of help and harm controlling for engagement, suggesting a means by which social exchanges may become imbalanced. Overall, findings demonstrate the validity of social exchange and affective explanations for the receipt of help and harm in the workplace.
Courses TaughtIndividuals and Groups in Organizations (ORGS 2100)
Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations (ORGS 4600)
MBA Strategy Field Study (MGMT 6100)