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Department of Sociology

Faculty and Staff Directory

Laura Aufderheide Brashears

Title: Instructor of Sociology & Graduate Faculty
Department: Sociology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-3123
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]

Laura Brashears


Laura Aufderheide Brashears is Instructor of Sociology and Graduate Faculty at the University of South Carolina. She also currently serves as Managing Editor of Social Psychology Quarterly, the flagship social psychological journal of the American Sociological Association.

Dr. Brashears received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Georgia in 2000 and went on to receive both an M.A. (2003) and a Ph.D. (2008) in Sociology from the University of Arizona, with emphases in Social Psychology and Stratification & Inequality. While at the University of Arizona, she pursued additional training in college teaching, culminating in the winning of several teaching grants and teaching awards, at both the departmental and college levels. Her passion for encouraging the sociological imagination in her students has led Dr. Brashears to continue pursuing innovative teaching and learning techniques as an Instructor at USC.

Her work has appeared in Advances in Group Processes, Frontiers in Cognitive Psychology, and Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, as well as Teaching Social Psychology: A Collection of Syllabi, Assignments, and Other Resources. In addition to teaching grants, Dr. Brashears has received funding from the National Science Foundation.


Substantive research/teaching interests: Social Psychology, Sociology of Emotions, Race & Ethnicity, Sociology of Education, Teaching Sociology, Social Networks

Department cluster: Social Psychology; Identities, Inequality, and Institutions

Research overview:

Dr. Brashears has always been intrigued by how structural constraints affect the expression of identities, and the behaviors that people subsequently choose to pursue. In her dissertation, she examined the effects of racial/ethnic identities and academic and global self-esteem on academic achievement. More recently, she has begun examining how social networks influence academic achievement, and how our social cognition affects our understanding of our social networks.

Current projects:

With Lynn Gazley at The College of New Jersey, Dr. Brashears has been collecting over-time data of examining the student and racial/ethnic identities and social networks of self-declared STEM college students. All students in the study have been enrolled in a pre-college summer program dedicated to helping low-SES and racial/ethnic minorities to gain the skills they will need to succeed in their college-level STEM courses. Through this study, Brashears and Gazley hope to better understand the role of student social networks and the importance of student and racial/ethnic identities in continued pursuit of STEM baccalaureate degrees.

In another line of research, Dr. Brashears is working with Dr. Matthew E. Brashears on a series of studies examining the role of social cognition, personality, and social structural constraints on social network outcomes.


SOCY 101H: Honors Introduction to Sociology

SOCY 357: Sociology of Education

SOCY 525: Selves & Social Transaction (an upper-level Self & Identity course)

SOCY 557: Sociology of Education and Inequality

Selected Publications

Brashears, Matthew E. and Laura Aufderheide Brashears. Forthcoming. “Compression Heuristics, Social Networks, and the Evolution of Human Intelligence.” Frontiers in Cognitive Psychology.

Brashears, Matthew E. and Laura Aufderheide Brashears. 2016. “The Enemy of my Friend is Easy to Remember: Balance as a Compression Heuristic.” pgs. 1-31 in Advances in Group Processes, Shane Thye & Edward Lawler (eds.), Bingley, UK: Emerald Insight.

Brashears, Matthew E. and Laura Aufderheide Brashears. 2015. “Do contemporary people have fewer close friends than they used to?” in Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Robert Scott and Stephen Kosslyn, eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Auf der Heide, Laura. 2008. “Social Structure and Personality.” Pp. 10-24 in Teaching Social Psychology: A Collection of Syllabi, Assignments, and Other Resources, edited by Robert Kettlitz. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.



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