Diversity Mission: Research

The Department of Psychology is committed to embedding diversity in our research. This commitment includes the inclusion of research participants who identify as members of diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, linguistic, national, religious, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, culture, and ability groups. This commitment also includes examination of the factors that exacerbate and mitigate group disparities and discrimination.

Developmental and School Psychology

Courtney Baker’s research focuses on understanding and improving how evidence-based practices are implemented in low-income settings serving young children and their families. The goal of her research program is to address and eliminate disparities in health and achievement for marginalized or vulnerable populations, including children who are racial and ethnic minority group members, who live in poverty, who have developmental disabilities or other special healthcare or learning needs, or who have experienced trauma.

  • Baker, C. N., Brown, S. M., Wilcox, P. D., Verlenden, J. M., Black, C. L., & Grant, B. E. (in press). The implementation and effect of trauma-informed care within residential youth services in rural Canada: A mixed methods evaluation. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.
  • Baker, C. N., Tichovolsky, M., Kupersmidt, J., Voegler-Lee, M. E., & Arnold, D. H. (2015). Teacher (mis)perceptions of preschoolers’ academic skills: Predictors and associations with longitudinal outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107, 805-820.

Michael Cunningham’s research focuses on social developmental outcomes, with a specific focus on academic motivation, identity processes, and gender-specific trajectories that are associated with resilience and vulnerability in African American children and adolescents.

  • Lee, X., W., & Cunningham, M. (2017). Perceived teacher encouragement as buffer to substance use in urban African American adolescents: Implications for disconnected youth. Education and Urban Society, 1-26, doi: 10.1177/0013124517714848
  • Lindsey, M. A., Brown, D. R, & Cunningham, M. (2017). Boys do(n't) cry: Addressing the Unmet mental health needs of African American boys. Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87, 377-383. doi: 10.1037/ort0000198.

Sarah Gray examines mental health and physiological consequences of exposure to early life stress and trauma, with a specific interest in parasympathetic cardiovascular markers, parenting and relationship-based sources of resilience, and sex differences. The ultimate goal of her research is to inform prevention and intervention programs for underserved young children and their caregivers.

  • Gray, S. A. O., Forbes, D., & Briggs-Gowan, M. J., Carter, A. S. (2015). Caregiver insightfulness and young children’s violence exposure: Testing a relational model of risk and resilience. Attachment and Human Development 17(6), 615-634.
  • Gray, S. A. O., Sweeney, K. K., Randazzo, R., & Levitt, H. (2016). ‘Am I Doing the Right Thing?’ Pathways to parenting a gender variant child. Family Process 55(1), 123-138.

Jeffrey Lockman studies the development of tool use and how it might be shaped by interactions with the environment. He has conducted cross-cultural work involving infants in China.

  • Green, D., Li, Q., Lockman, J. J., & Gredebäck, G. (2016). Culture influences action understanding in infancy: Prediction of actions performed with chopsticks and spoons in Chinese and Swedish infants. Child Development, 87, 736-746

Julie Markant’s research focuses on individual differences in infant learning, including early perception of same- and other-race faces.

  • Markant, J., Oakes, L.M., & Amso, D. (2016). Visual selective attention biases contribute to the other-race effect among 9-month-old infants. Developmental Psychobiology, 58(3), 355-365. doi: 10.1002/dev.21375
  • Markant, J. & Scott, L.S. (2018). Attention and perceptual learning interact in the development of the other-race effect. Current Directions in Psychological Science, doi; 10.1177/0963721418769884

Bonnie Nastasi’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of culturally appropriate assessment and intervention approaches designed to promote health and mental health. She has developed and helped implement intervention programs to reduce sexual risk and promote mental health in Sri Lankan schools and reduce sexual risk among young adults; educational curricula to promote social development in New Haven and New Orleans Public Schools; and sexual risk prevention programs for men and women in India. Most recently, her research focuses on international perspectives in understanding child well-being.

  • Bell, P. B., Summerville, M. A., Nastasi, B. K., MacFetters, J., & Earnshaw, E. (2015). Promoting psychological well-being in an urban school using the Participatory Culture Specific Intervention Model. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 25, 1–18
  • Nastasi, B. K., & Borja, A. (Eds.). (2016). International handbook of psychological well-being in children and adolescents: Bridging the gaps between theory, research, and practice. NY: Springer.

Stacy Overstreet’s research has examined the interplay between trauma and the neurobiological, social, and psychological functioning of youth. Her most recent work focuses on the implementation of trauma-informed approaches in schools as a way to address the needs of youth exposed to trauma. Given the complexity of trauma, Dr. Overstreet’s work is inherently interdisciplinary and involves collaborations between the University, New Orleans public schools, the New Orleans Health Department, community mental health agencies, and public policy institutes.

  • Francois, S., Cunningham, M., & Overstreet, S. (2012). Where we live: The unexpected influence of urban neighborhoods on the academic performance of African American adolescents. Youth & Society, 44, 307 – 328.
  • Sims, A., Boasso, A., Burch, B., Naser, S., & Overstreet, S. (2015). Hurricane exposure and school problems: The mediating role of posttraumatic stress symptoms. Child and Youth Care Forum, 44, 583 – 595.

Social and Health Psychology

Michael Hoerger is a clinical health psychologist and decision scientist who conducts research aimed at supporting quality of life in adults with cancer. His research includes on healthcare decision making and service utilization, patient-provider communication, patient education and empowerment, and health disparities. He is particularly interested in increasing utilization of palliative care, a multidisciplinary service for patients with advanced cancer or serious symptoms that is designed with the goal of supporting quality of life.

  • Hoerger, M., Perry, L. M., Gramling, R., Epstein, R. M., & Duberstein, P. R. (in press). Does educating patients about the Early Palliative Care Study increase preferences for outpatient palliative cancer care? Findings from Project EMPOWER. Health Psychology.
  • Gramling, R., Fiscella, K., Xing, G., Hoerger, M., Duberstein, P., Plumb, S., Mohile, S., Fenton, J., Tancredi, D., Kravitz, R., & Epstein, R. (2016). Differences of opinion or inadequate communication? Determinants of patient-oncologist prognostic discordance in advanced cancer. JAMA Oncology, 2, 1421-1426.

Lisa Molix's interests lie with intergroup relations, health and well-being among marginalized populations, and the intersections among these areas.

  • Doyle, D.M., & Molix, L. (in press). Minority stress, identity management and inflammation: Covering moderates associations between perceived discrimination and salivary interleukin-6 in gay men. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 1-11.
  • Doyle, D.M., & Molix, L. (2015). Social stigma and sexual minorities’ romantic relationship functioning: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41, 1363-1381.

Damian Murray’s research includes the consequences of a disease-avoidance motive for cultural differences.

  • Murray, D. R., & Schaller, M. (2017). Pathogens, personality, and culture. In A. T. Church (Ed.), The Praeger Handbook of Personality Across Cultures, Volume 3, (pp. 87-116). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.
  • Schaller, M., Murray, D. R., & Bangarter, A. (2015). Implications of the behavioral immune system for social behavior and human health in the modern world. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 370, 20140105. DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0105

Laurie O’Brien studies prejudice and stigma from the perspective of both targets and perpetrators. Research encompasses topics such as stereotype threat, status legitimizing ideologies, and perceptions of prejudice and discrimination.

  • Moss, A., Blodorn, A., Van Camp, A., & O’Brien, L.T. (in press). Gender Equality, Value Violations, and Prejudice Toward Muslims. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.
  • Blodorn, A., & O’Brien, L.T. (2013). Evaluations of White American versus Black American discrimination claimants’ political views and prejudicial attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 49, 211-216.
  • O’Brien, L.T., Garcia, D.M., Adams, G., Villalobos, J.G., Hammer, E., & Gilbert, P. (2015). The threat of sexism in a STEM educational setting: Moderating impacts of ethnicity and legitimacy beliefs. Social Psychology of Education, 18, 667-684.

Janet Ruscher focuses primarily on stereotyping and prejudice in communication and language.

  • Van Bommel, T., Sheehy, A., & Ruscher, J. B. (2015). The role of attachment style in women's recognition of sexism. Personality and Individual Differences, 74, 235-240.
  • Tipler, C. N., & Ruscher, J. B. (2014). Agency’s role in dehumanization: Non-human metaphors of outgroups. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 8, 214-228.