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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Sociology

Graduate Student Directory

Ashley Harrell

Department of Sociology
University of South Carolina

Curriculum vitae: Download PDF

ASHLEY HARRELL, Ph.D. Candidate, Expected May 2016. M.A. 2010 (Sociology, University of South Carolina). B.A. 2008 (Psychology, University of South Carolina). I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of South Carolina. Broadly, my areas of interest include social psychology and quantitative and experimental methodology. More specifically, I study altruism and morality, leadership and organizational behavior, cooperation, and collective action. I am a 2014-2015 Bilinski Fellow, 2014-2015 SPARC Fellowship recipient, 2013 Distinguished Graduate Scholar, and have been nominated for a Dean's Dissertation Fellowship. My work has been published in Social Forces, Rationality and Society, and Sociological Science. My dissertation bridges insights from theories of collective action, power, and influence to address the conditions under which group leaders solve collective action problems. I show how leaders’ behaviors impact the success of collective action groups as a whole via both power and influence processes. Briefly, the results of two laboratory experiments support the prediction that other-regarding (prosocial) leaders contribute more to the group after ascending to leadership, while self-regarding (proself) leaders reduce their contributions, above and beyond baseline differences in their behavior. Further, as expected, rank and file group members are influenced by leaders’ contribution behaviors; as a result, prosocial-led groups as a whole were substantially more productive than proself-led groups and the standard, peer-sanctioning system. The findings suggest that putting power and influence in the right hands leads to substantially improved collective welfare, compared to the current standard solution to collective action problems.