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Diversity Science

Human behavior is potentially shaped by numerous influences: differences related to sex, culture, social class, income, race, ethnicity, language, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and ability status, among others. As the study of human behavior, the discipline of psychology is well-positioned to be a leader in research and theorizing on the lived experience of diverse subgroups of individuals. Yet mainstream psychological inquiry has for the most part not sought to problematize how psychological functioning may be affected by the above-noted differences.

The Diversity Science Cluster was formed in 2013 with the aim of foregrounding the study of psychological dimensions of intersectional social identities with respect to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural identity, age, language, sexuality, etc.  This cluster consists of a group of faculty and graduate students (see below). Individually and collectively, members of the group seek to conduct research and engage in other efforts to diversify the questions, conceptual frameworks, methods, and populations studied in psychological research with the goal of making the science, practice, and teaching of psychology more inclusive and more representative.

To facilitate intellectual exchange and build a supportive community of scholars engaged in diversity science, broadly construed, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences has allocated dedicated research and meeting space for shared use by cluster members.

Profiles of cluster members as they relate to diversity science are summarized below. For further information, please consult individual faculty website links. Prospective graduate students or visiting scholars are invited to contact any of the members of the cluster.


Gerianne Alexander (Clinical: sex differences; hormones and behavior)
The primary focus of my research has been investigation of the hypothesis that, in addition to powerful social influences, hormones in prenatal and postnatal life contribute to sex differences in social and cognitive behavior across the lifespan.  As experimental manipulation of hormone levels in humans is not usually ethical, testing the hormone hypothesis in humans requires converging evidence from research employing a variety of methodologies.  Therefore, my research program includes studies of typically developing children and adults, individuals with known hormone deficiencies, individuals with disorders thought to involve atypical hormone exposure (e.g., Tourette Syndrome), and behavioral research on other animal species (i.e., rats and monkeys).  In addition to widely-used measures of hormone levels and behaviors that typically differ between males and females (e.g., cognitive tasks, self-reports of childhood behavior and personality), a core component of my research methodology is eye-tracking technology.
Steve Balsis (Clinical: assessment of disorders; dementia)
My research focuses on improving the assessment of clinical disorders (personality disorders, depression, dementia etc.). One line of my work shows that many psychological disorders present themselves differently across the lifespan because the social, occupational, and physiological contexts change and influence the expression of these disorders. Another line of work focuses on improving the measurement of dementia to enable earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mindy Bergman (I/O:  stigma; organizational climate; well-being)
My research examines the organizational causes and psychological consequences of harassment and discrimination in the workplace and whether these processes differ across sex and race. My work also focuses on the experiences of women in the workplace, especially the in masculine work contexts such as the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, police work, and the military. I have also combined my research program with service to the university by developing, leading, and delivering training to faculty search committee members on implicit bias and its role in the faculty selection process.
Adrienne Carter-Sowell (Social & Personality, Africana Studies, & I/O: social exclusion; workplace diversity)
My program of research examines how targets of ostracism— being ignored and excluded by individuals or groups — cope with the costs of being “socially invisible” from the target’s perspective. My research on ostracism to date falls into three major categories: (1) scale development; (2) the dynamics of how African Americans as members of a stigmatized group interact with others; and (3) individual differences. Workplace topics related to this research area include outcomes of being ‘out of the loop.’ My scholarly work capitalizes on my jointly appointed faculty position (50% Department of Psychology/50% Africana Studies Program) by addressing empirical questions related to social identity and systems of power across interdisciplinary areas. I primarily teach cross-listed, undergraduate and graduate level courses that service the Texas A & M University campus climate for diversity and interdisciplinary scholarship.
Pamela Edens (I/O: personnel; gender)
I regularly teach the Psychology of Women undergraduate course and am interested in participating in collaborative efforts that enhance the learning environment of students in this course.
Sherecce Fields (Clinical: impulsivity; health risk behaviors)
My current research focuses on impulsivity as a trans-disease process in adolescent health risk behaviors. Specifically, I am interested in how impulsivity and other family, process and psychosocial factors interact to affect prevention and treatment outcomes for adolescent addictive behaviors. My primary research examines factors related to the initiation and maintenance of tobacco smoking in children and adolescents in order to inform and develop effective treatments for these behaviors. My secondary research line extends the knowledge gained from adolescent addiction research to eating behavior and obesity in adolescents. I am also interested in examining factors that lead to disparities in development and maintenance of these health risk behaviors in socially disadvantaged populations.
Lisa Geraci (Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience: memory; aging and cognitive performance)
My students and I are examining how memory and cognition change with age. We focus on how the social context influences older adults’ self perceptions and performance on cognitive tests. We also examine how people’s self perceptions change over their lifespan and how these perceptions affect cognition and behavior. Another area of interest (in collaboration with other members of the cluster) is the role of researcher gender in metrics used to evaluate scientific productivity.
Vani Mathur (Social & Personality: pain; empathy; cultural neuroscience)
My primary research interests are related to understanding the sources of disparities in pain, and the specific mechanisms by which social and cultural factors alter pain experience and pain physiology. Pain is a major public health problem with significant physiological, psychological, social, and societal consequences. Pain also disproportionately affects certain sociodemographic groups, and disparities exist at every level of the pain experience. I approach the problem of pain disparities from two directions – investigating the different ways social factors influence one’s own pain, and also alter pain perception and empathy for others. To tackle these problems, my lab utilizes behavioral, psychophysical, and neuroimaging methodologies. Other lines of research also include cross-cultural examinations of pain and empathy and studies of social-environmental effects on health. My teaching interests include interdisciplinary courses such as health psychology and social and cultural neuroscience.
Kathi Miner (I/O): workplace diversity, inclusion, and respect)
My scholarship focuses on the relationship between interpersonal mistreatment (e.g., incivility, sexism, racism) in organizations and individuals’ health and well-being, and the roles social power and status play in this relationship. I center my research on the experiences of individuals from low-status social groups (e.g., women, ethnic/racial minorities, sexual minorities) and how different devalued social categories intersect (e.g., Black women, lesbians) to influence mistreatment experiences and well-being. I also devote much of my work to low-status group members’ mistreatment experiences in organizational environments that have been historically dominated by White men, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Stephanie Payne (I/O: workplace safety; women in STEM)
I examine how individual differences (including sex and race) facilitate or inhibit the effectiveness of human resource practices and how organizational initiatives can be implemented to be mutually beneficial for both the employee and the organization. As a part of NSF’s ADVANCE-IT grant, I examine differential treatment and outcomes, including recruitment, promotion, and retention, of STEM women faculty.
Isaac Sabat   (I/O;  reducing unfair discriminatory treatment of stigmatized employees/ remediate workplace obstacles)
My current program of research broadly focuses on understanding and improving the working lives of stigmatized employees. I am particularly interested in examining strategies in which these employees can engage, such as disclosing or acknowledging their identities, to effectively remediate the workplace obstacles that they face.   I have conducted various interrelated projects that examine how the effectiveness of expressing one’s identity is impacted by the extent to which stigmas are previously known, visible, or discovered by others over time. This is a novel area, given that disclosures have previously been conceptualized as a dichotomous, all-or-nothing phenomenon.  I look forward to continuing this line of work aimed at reducing unfair discriminatory treatment within and outside of the workplace.
Phia Salter (Social & Personality & Africana Studies: cultural psychology; representations of the past)
My current theoretical and empirical research agenda utilizes cultural psychology and a critical race psychology framework to illuminate and deconstruct systems of power, privilege, and oppression. In my primary line of work, I consider the ways in which (re)presentations of the past are cultural products that are likely to both reflect and promote dominant group beliefs, feelings, and attitudes.   My teaching interests include introductory and advanced courses that focus on culture and diversity, racism and oppression, self and identity, and intergroup relations.
Jyotsna Vaid (Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience:  multiple language experience and cognition; social construction of merit in academia
My research examines cognitive, neurocognitive, and psycholinguistic aspects of membership in linguistically and culturally diverse communities. One line of inquiry examines longterm repercussions of the widespread practice of language brokering in immigrant or refugee families, in which children act as linguistic and/or cultural intermediaries for family or community members. More broadly, my research seeks to explore new ways of theorizing language competence beyond a privileging of “the native speaker”.  An emerging interest is on the social construction of mainstream scholarship in psychology and its implications for evaluating merit.

Faculty and/or graduate students in any area of psychology and other faculty or graduate students at the university who wish to affiliate with the cluster in the coming year are invited to contact Dr. Jyotsna Vaid, the convenor of the cluster. Please provide a brief bio and a 1-page statement indicating how your work aligns with the goals of the cluster and how you foresee your contribution to the cluster. Faculty affiliates are expected to contribute to the development and functioning of the Diversity Science Cluster on at least two out of three levels – research, teaching, or service.

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