Research

Research in the Race and Class Lab is broadly concerned with understanding how race and social class shape behavior and adaptational outcomes, using behavioral, psychophysiological, and intensive longitudinal methods. Current topics of interest include:

DISCRIMINATION AND HEALTH

Extensive evidence suggests that coping with chronic experiences of unfair treatment and discrimination elicits a cascade of responses that over time “weather” or damage the physiological systems that regulate the body’s stress response. We are particularly interested in studying subtle forms of everyday bias and discrimination reported by members of marginalized groups.

Recent work in the lab explores the biological embedding (including cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory processes) of everyday discrimination experiences that are at the intersection of multiple group identities, such as race/ethnicity and social class.

RESILIENCE IN DEVELOPMENT

The idea of studying disadvantage and its accumulation over time is not new, having been invoked to explain sociodemographic disparities in adjustment. Moreover, resilience scholars have long noted that success in the face of significant threats to development rests on a constellation of personal attributes and consistent, supportive relationships. We broaden these ideas to encompass factors that are a part of the life-course trajectory of ethnic minority youth who evidence positive developmental outcomes in the context of adversity. 

Ongoing research explores such topics as the role of cultural resources (including ethnic-racial identity, family interdependence, parental support) in offsetting the effects of enduring socioeconomic hardships and racial discrimination.

POSITIVE ETHNIC-RACIAL AFFECT

Considerable developmental theory and research suggest that how positively youth feel about their ethnicity and race, or positive ethnic-racial affect, may confer benefits across a broad range of indicators of adjustment (including mental health, academic achievement, health risk behaviors). Existing conceptualizations of positive ethnic-racial affect have focused on the implications of possessing high versus low positive group feelings (e.g., racial pride, private regard, affirmation). However, people fluctuate in the extent to which they feel positively about their ethnicity or race. 

This is a new line of work for the laboratory. Our current agenda is to examine the extent to which stable versus variable forms of positive ethnic-racial affect prospectively predict adjustment outcomes among diverse minority youth. As part of this research thrust, we take advantage of dynamic tools that allow for the intensive longitudinal study of individuals in their natural settings.

SELECTIVE PUBLICATIONS

Ong, A. D., Williams, D. R., Ujuonu, N., & Gruenewald, T. L. (2017). Everyday unfair treatment and multisystem biological     dysregulation in African-American adults. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 23, 27-35. pdf

Zilioli, S., Imami, L., Ong, A. D., Lumley, M. A., & Gruenewald, T. (2017). Discrimination and anger control as pathways linking socioeconomic disadvantage to allostatic load in midlife. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 103, 83-90. pdf

Sturgeon, J. A., Arewasikporn, A., Okun, M. A., Davis, M. C., Ong, A. D., & Zautra, A. J. (2016). The psychosocial context of financial stress: Implications for inflammation and psychological health. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78, 134-143. pdf

Fuller-Rowell, T. E., Evans, G. W., & Ong, A. D. (2012). Poverty and health: The mediating role of perceived discrimination. Psychological Science, 23, 734-739. pdf

Fuller-Rowell, T. E., Burrow, A. L., & Ong, A. D. (2011). Changes in racial identity among African American college students following the election of Barack Obama. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1608-1618. pdf

Wells, N. M., Evans G. W., Beavis, A., & Ong, A. D. (2010). Early childhood poverty, cumulative risk exposure, and body mass index trajectories through young adulthood. American Journal of Public Health, 100, 2507-2512. pdf

Ong, A. D., Fuller-Rowell, T., & Burrow, A. L. (2009). Racial discrimination and the stress process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology96, 1259–1271. pdf


Collaborators

Anthony Burrow, Cornell University

Gary Evans, Cornell University

Tara Gruenewald, Chapman University

John Sturgeon, Stanford University

David Williams, Harvard University

Samuele Zilioli, Wayne State University