Date published: 12/3/2015

Identity for members of negatively stereotyped groups such as Latino or African Americans is linked to a variety of detrimental life outcomes. Accordingly, robust findings across social science literatures document that making identity salient in ways that connect the self to negative stereotypes undermines academic achievement and adversely affects mental and physical health. Consistent with such findings, interventions that target social disparities experienced by members of negatively stereotyped groups often focus on the ways in which identity is associated with risk and negative consequences.

Although tied to disadvantage, identity for members of negatively stereotyped groups can also function as a valued source of self, one that can cultivate pride, meaning, motivation, and even resilience. For instance, an African American college student’s racial/ethnic group membership can make her vulnerable to being seen through the lens of negative stereotypes, but it can also link her to African American cultural ideas and practices that signal she is connected to a group that is valued and associated with strength, perseverance, and belongingness.

My research examines the potential for interventions to mobilize identity as a resource that can address long-standing social disparities by focusing on the ways in which identity for members of negatively stereotyped groups is also associated with a valued source of self. Specifically, my research investigates social psychological conditions and processes that allow identity in negatively stereotyped groups to be linked to positive, rather than negative, consequences such as: (1) enhanced academic achievement and health and well-being, and (2) improved intergroup relations including prejudice reduction in out-group members.

Taken together, the findings of my research suggest that inclusive multicultural settings (e.g., schools and workplaces) have a powerful yet often untapped opportunity. That is, such settings have the potential to creatively and systematically leverage identity in negatively stereotyped and/or low power groups to advantageously impact an array of meaningful social outcomes.

I am a first generation college student who is originally from Miami, Florida where I received a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University. I earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University. Before joining the UCLA Department of Psychology, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor/ Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.