doctor lucy bencharit, the professor and lead researcher

Dr. Bencharit

My name is Lucy Zhang Bencharit, and I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Organizational Behavior at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. My research aims to promote positive outcomes for diverse groups in employment, work, and classroom settings. I am interested in how cultural factors may subtly and unconsciously shape our behaviors, judgments, and decisions. My research addresses questions including: How does culture influence our emotional values and behaviors? How do culture and emotion influence employment outcomes? How can we leverage our cultural values to facilitate successful work and classroom outcomes in an increasingly multicultural world?

Research Assistants

Chi Lao, psychology student research assistant

Chi Lao

My name is Chi Lao, and I’m a third year Psychology student with minors in Statistics and Child Development. I’m still exploring different fields and searching for graduate programs that I’m interested in. The IDEAL lab’s research relates a lot to my personal experience; not only am I learning about the relationship between cultural values on emotions and leadership choices but also understanding more about myself as I embrace both the Chinese and American culture. I also love that I get to learn and work with new programs (e.g. Qualtrics and Noldus) as a research assistant in the lab.

Kristina Toma , psychology student research assistant

Kristina Toma

Hi! My name is Kristina Toma, and I am a third year Psychology major with a double minor in Biology and Child Development. After graduation, I would like to take time to continue research and work in the field before applying to graduate schools for clinical psychology. Being a research assistant in the IDEAL lab has allowed me to dig deep into the often underestimated impact that cultural values and emotions have on decision making. I look forward to expanding upon our research and applying it to workplaces, education settings, and much more in everyday life.


Lisa Bertholdt, psychology student research assistant

Lisa Bertholdt

My name is Lisa Bertholdt and I majored in Psychology with a double minor in Child Development and German. I am currently pursuing graduate school regarding various aspects of psychology like the learning sciences, organizational behavior, and group dynamics. These programs allow me to further my knowledge of psychology while gaining a specialization in something I am passionate about. As a Research Assistant in the IDEAL Lab, I have learned about the impact that gender and ethnicity have on teamwork abilities and strategies.

ryan untalan, psychology student research assistant

Ryan Untalan

My name is Ryan Untalan, and I majored in Psychology with a minor in Industrial Technology while at Cal Poly. I am currently pursuing my masters in Human-Computer interaction because it combines my passion for psychology, technology, and design. As a research assistant for the IDEAL Lab, I enjoyed learning about how cultural values and emotions influence leadership choice. Through this experience, I gain a deeper understanding of the impact of emotions on decision making.