The Culture and Social Behavior Lab is an interdisciplinary social psychology research laboratory. Our lab seeks to understand the relationship between cultures and our behaviors, identities, and cognitions. We seek to leverage self-and identity-related constructs to help generate solutions to real world social problems.
Our research has focussed mostly on the interaction of people, culture, and situations. We try to understand both individual differences (within-culture variation) and cultural differences (between-culture variation) in an integrated way. So, we try to understand the cultural logics that make each culture distinct, and we try to understand how people postion themselves either toward or against the dominant logic of their culture (Leung & Cohen, 2006a). In this work, we have mostly compared face, dignity, and honor cultures. Another area of interest has to do with phenomenological perspectives on the self. How do people of different cultures experience the self?
In our work, we have examined the insider and outsider perspectives that people may take on the self in Euro-American and Asian-American contexts (Cohen & Gunz, 2002; Cohen, Hoshino-Browne, & Leung, in press; Leung & Cohen, 2006b).
Two very new areas for us concern: 1) cultural difference in language use. More particularly, we are interested in how people of different cultures may describe reality in some fundamentally different ways. 2) The embodiment of cultural values, in which cultural values get encoded in the way we actually physically comport our bodies. (*hard embodiment*) or the way we psychologically represent our bodies in our mental models (*soft embodiment*) (Leung & Cohen , 2006b).
Dr. Hunter's line of research is consistent with a focus in ethnic minority psychology and explores identity and well-being in persons of African descent who reside in the U.S. Two key assumptions that inform her research are:
(1) the U.S. racial history has created a unique racial context with specific racial hierarchies.
(2) racial minority status in the U.S. may hold psychological implications for persons of African descent with respect to observed ethnic group health disparities.
Her research explores individual factors (resiliency and counter productive) such as racial and ethnic identity and cultural worldviews and its association with outcomes such as perceptions of racial discrimination and race-related stressors in African Americans and British Caribbean Americans. The inclusion of British Caribbean Americans (and Black immigrants in general) is unique and important because Black immigrants' migration into the U.S. racial context provides a unique opportunity to investigate identity and acculturation in a racial group that migrates to the U.S. without the psychological and social label "racial minority". It is her hope that this line of research will be utilized to inform culturally competent and culturally relevant service delivery thereby decreasing treatment and mental health disparities for persons of African descent who reside in the U.S.
Dr. Hunter is also the 2015 recipient of the Kenneth and Mamie Clark Award for psychologists who have made outstanding contributions to the professional development of ethnic minority graduate students.
You can read more about her current students below.
Natalie Watson, graduate student in Cultural Heritage & Racial Identity Lab
My research interests have generally focused on issues regarding the intersection of race and gender and the ways in which occupying multiple marginalized identities shapes individuals’ overall attitudes and behaviors. For example, my undergraduate senior thesis examined the ways in which African American women’s intersected ‘black-woman’ identity shaped their overall self-concept, and I am currently working on a mixed-method research project that examines the cultural messages African American women receive regarding appropriate ways to seek help for feelings of stress. Overall, I am passionate about the formulation and implementation of culturally competent treatment services and programs. I have had the opportunity to work with several local culturally competent community based programs, which have also informed my research and work with diverse populations.
Zhenni Wang, graduate student in Cultural Heritage & Racial Identity Lab
My cultural background and personal experience have provided a foundation for my immense interest in diversity research. This has propelled me to take diversity into consideration in the study of human functioning. Broadly, my research interests include ethnic identity formation, service utilization patterns among immigrants, and cultural differences in the conceptualization and expression of mental illness. Currently, my Master's thesis examines individual variables (e.g. self-esteem) and cultural variables (e.g. loss of face) in predicting attitudes towards professional mental health services among Chinese individuals living in the U.S. Results from the study seek to help clinicians and researchers develop effective means of serving the Asian American population and immigrant population at large. My research interest is closely tied with my community involvement, where I am actively involved in many cultural organizations and committees.
Yara Mekawi, graduate student in Cultural Heritage & Racial Identity Lab
On a global level, I am interested in understanding the relationships between discrimination and mental health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities. Specifically, I hope to investigate the potential role that race-related stress plays in emotional, cognitive and social functioning (i.e., externalizing and internalizing symptoms of anxiety and depression) in African-American adults. To supplement scientific knowledge regarding the psychological effects of discrimination, I am also interested in assessing the cognitive and affective processes that non-minorities may engage in to perpetuate certain forms of discrimination. Understanding the roles of colorblind ideology and implicit/explicit dehumanization in racial attitude development, for example, can inform our understanding of interracial interactions and relations in both clinical and non-clinical contexts.
Dr. Lyubansky is a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches Psychology of Race and Ethnicity, Theories of Psychotherapy, and a graduate-level practicum class on restorative justice. His research and writing interests include restorative justice and racial/ethnic group relations, including racial conflict. He is a regular contributor to anthologies on popular culture, including Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Twilight, published by BenBella and is a co-editor of a just-released volume titled Toward a Socially-Responsible Psychology For a Global Era. In addition to his academic writing, Mikhail writes a blog about race and justice for Psychology Today, called Between the Lines.
In regard to racial conflict, Dr. Lyubansky has a long-standing interest (going back about 20 years) in race and racial dynamics, including identity development, group relations. He completed a series of studies with Roy Eidelson and other colleagues examining race group differences in Americans' beliefs about their racial and national identity groups and the extent to which these beliefs explain attitudes and behaviors associated with group conflict. He has also co-written a 2006 book about the Russian-Jewish diaspora and co-edited text on Socially-Responsible Psychology. Although most of his work these days focuses on race in the context of restorative justice, he occasionally conducts research and writes about immigration, including a study on the experiences of undocumented immigrants in Georgia.
Dr. Miller's research examines the psychology of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimation, particularly as these psychological processes interact with the law. Current projects are looking at: 1) the role of gender ideology in employment discrimination and household division of labor; 2) the role of race in the collateral consequences of criminal records, and 3) moral reasoning and person perception in victim blaming.
Dr. Newman's research interests include: adverse impact/diversity in HR management (race issues in hiring/admissions, minority recruiting, personality and individual differences; Employee engagement (attitude-engagement model; time & change; work withdrawal, citizenship & performance; job attitudes; personality); Emotional intelligence (Cascading model, measurement, leadership); Social networks and levels of analysis (social network contagion, within-group agreement, climate emergence); Research methods (missing data in longitudinal/multilevel models, survey nonresponse, measurement, Bayesian meta-analysis).
Dr. Stern's research broadly examines how people perceive and evaluate others based on their social group memberships, such as their race, sex, and sexual orientation. In particular, his work focuses on how a person's political ideology (i.e., whether they are politically liberal or conservative) leads them to use social stereotypes to categorize people into groups, and his this process might guide subsequent evaluations that people form about members of both high and low status groups in society. He also investigates factors that can hinder interactions between people who belong to different social groups (e.g., White and Black Americans, liberals and conservatives), as well as interventions that can be used to form more long-standing and collaborative relationships across group boundaries.
Dr. Todd's research seeks to understand how and why individuals and groups work together for social justice. In particular, he investigates the role of religion and spirituality in shaping social justice understandings and action. He focuses on religious settings, such as congregations and interfaith groups, as places that may shape how people understand social justice and may provide opportunities for social justice action. Specifically, he is interested in how setting characteristics (e.g., group-based beliefs, social networks, leaders), may be part of the story in how people connect through religious communities to work for justice. He also investigates how to engage people from privileged groups (e.g., people who are White in the U.S.) in social justice with an interest in how religious beliefs and congregations may facilitate such engagement.
Dr. Uddin's research focuses on the impact of stress and trauma on the genome and involves multiple projects grounded in broadening diversity in genomic science. Her work with the Detroit Neighborhood Health Study (DNHS), conducted in collaboration with researchers at UNC and Harvard University, is currently focused on examining how social adversity influences epigenomic processes that elevate risk for stress-related psychopathology among African Americans. In addition, her partnerships with colleagues at the University of Rwanda (UR) aims to assess the intergenerational impact of stress and trauma on the epigenome. These projects seek to broaden representation of genomic data.
Genomic science has made substantial advances in the past two decades, yet the gains have been unevenly applied across populations: a mere 4% of publically available genome-wide association study (GWAS) data have been collected from individuals of non-European ancestry. Work in the DNHS will help to provide a broader representation of genomic data from a minority, historically underserved population, which may be leveraged in future studies in precision medicine; and work in Rwanda will help to expand genomic data collection in Africa and strengthen Rwandan's capacity in bioinformatics and molecular genetics through sharing of expertise between UR and UIUC.
Additional funded work in this area involves an interdisciplinary collaboration among members on campus (Dr. Ripan Mahli, Anthropology; Dr. Derek Wildman, Molecular and Integrative Physiology) and the Kenaitze, Tyonek and Nondalton indigenous communities to characterize the epigenomic effects of European colonization of Alaskan Natives, and assess whether these effects are attenuated by participation in cultural revitalization activities.
Click on the title to check out these pictures from the classroom remodeling project in the basement. A second project to replace the elevators will begin in September. Beginning with the freight elevator, each elevator will be out of service for three months. To get quickly from one floor to another, and improve your fitness, we will encourage the use of the stairs. The repainting of the northeast stairwell has been completed, and the painter is starting on the southwest stairwell.
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