Research | Department of Psychology

Research

SPECIALTY AREA

My scholarship is informed by theoretical perspectives from critical race psychology. Specially, I examine the role that macro, socio-ecological, contextual forces play in: tokenization of faculty of color; faculty development and job satisfaction; the recognition and impact of microaggressions; the generation and maintenance of stereotypes; intergroup perception and relations. In addition to multiple journal articles and book chapters, recent publications include two books:

Boyd, Beth, Caraway, S. Jean, Niemann, Yolanda Flores (Eds.). (2017). Surviving and Thriving in Academia: A Guide for Members of Marginalized Groups. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Gutiérrez y Muhs, Gabriela; Niemann, Yolanda Flores; González, Carmen; and Harris, Angela (Eds.). (2012). Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia, University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press (an imprint of University Press of Colorado). [two essays from this book were featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Diversity In Academe, The Gender Issue, October 29, 2012, https://www.chronicle-store.com/ProductDetails.aspx?ID=79968&WG=350 and in the editors' picks in CHOICE Magazines, March 2013, http://www.cro2.org/default.aspx?page=reviewdisplay&pids=3818670].

I am currently working on the second volume of the ground-breaking book, Presumed Incompetent, which is expected to be published in 2019.

RESEARCH MISSION

My research mission is to advance understanding of the role of race/ethnicity in experiences within and across various domains, especially within academia, with particular emphasis on the intersections of race/ethnicity with sex, social class, and gender identities. In addition to increasing understanding, I hope to advance the knowledge of effective interventions that can facilitate workplace and personal success of Persons of Color.

I expect to admit at least one graduate per academic year to my research program.

RESEARCH TEAM PEDAGOGY

My research affords opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to learn how to conduct research while building friendships and professional networks. I expect all team members to be fully engaged in every aspect of the research process. I also include all students in conference presentations, to the extent they wish to participate. In 2018, student team members presented at nine conferences. I expect graduate students to have several journal publications to their credit when they apply for post-graduate positions. Graduate students are also be afforded the opportunity to mentor and supervisor undergraduates.

My research team meets once per week for two hours. All team members attend and fully engage in all meetings.

Qualifications for undergraduates:

  • At least a 3.5 Psychology GPA;
  • Overall GPA at least 3.2;
  • Commit to team participation for the fall and spring semesters of one academic year;
  • Strong communication and organization skills;
  • Strong creative and critical thinking skills;
  • Application to my research team begins with an email to me at yolanda.niemann@unt.edu. I will meet with each applicant to determine goodness of fit with the team goals.

RESEARCH DESCRIPTIONS

Racial Microaggressions and Responses on College Campuses.

Microaggressions are the everyday, unconscious or conscious, verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative acts to individuals of marginalized groups (Sue, 2010). My team has engaged in training and research on recognizing and responding to microaggressions. The basis for this work is my video, Microaggressions in the Classroom, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZahtlxW2CIQ. The video is readily accessible on YouTube; there is no charge for use of the video.

Tokenism of Faculty of Color who work in Predominantly White Institutions

People are at risk for tokenization when their demographic group constitutes 15% or fewer of the total persons in the workplace context, which is the case in higher education institutions. Following up on my previous research in this area, as well as on advances in the literature, this research will continue to advance understanding of the consequences of tokenized contexts for the token and for the institution. I am currently working on a book reviewing the research literature on tokenism, which has been accepted for the SPSSI book series.

The Perceived Relationship Between Superheroes' Race and Gender Identity and Their Powers and Attributes

Following up on my previous research, beginning in fall 2016, our research has examined the relationship between race/ethnicity, gender, and LGBT status on the perceived powers and attributes of superheroes.

The Impact of Race-Based Courses on Students' Intergroup Attitudes, Behaviors, and Comfort with Conversations About Race

I teach an undergraduate and graduate course called Psychology of Race in the U.S. Using pre-post methodology, we will examine the impact of the course on students' self and other group perceptions and behaviors towards member of demographics groups other than their own.

Student-Centered Pedagogy

My Introduction to Social Psychology course is student-centered. I facilitate learning about the application of social psychological constructs through student-participant lectures and discussions, a Ted-like student group talk, and application of constructs to the current news, as well as to selected published narratives. While the success of my teaching approach is reflected in very high teaching evaluations, my research team is also engaged in conducting research on the outcomes of this teaching pedagogy.

Postdoctoral Experience Study

In partnership with Dr. Jack Dovidio of Yale, we are examining the postdoctoral experience to provide insight that will maximize the success of postdoctoral fellows as they advance to faculty positions. Specifically, we are examining moderators of the experience, including their relationship with advisors. We expect to extend this research to include graduate students.

Team Members

My team includes 16 members for academic year 2018-19. The team includes four doctorate students, four McNair students (two of whom are also working on their Honors Thesis), plus eight undergraduates from ranks of sophomore - senior. In addition to participating in the team research, students are encouraged to conduct independent research. Following is a description of team members' independent research, in their own words.

Graduate Students

Kyjeila Latimer: My current research project centers on instances of racially traumatizing events in the media and considers the effect that repeated access/ exposure to those images have on psychological distress in various individuals. Additionally, my project considers the role that ethnic-racial identity plays in buffering the negative effects of vicarious racially traumatizing material.

Everrett Moore: I have several broad interests in terms of research, including difficult dialogues involving variables of identity, the exploration of race and racism including discrimination amongst traditionally marginalized groups, multicultural competence in clinical work, explorations of implicit biases in the modern age, and couples-based intervention in clinical work.

Alvin Akibar: My research examines intersections of sexuality, racial/ethnic identity and mental health, particularly in relation to anxiety and depression. The primary aim for my current and future research is to add theoretically-informed context to the experiences and needs of those with stigmatized identities, to assist researchers, mental health providers and policymakers.

Audon Archibald: With a great interest in how media consumption, especially games, shapes attitudes and behaviors as well as how it can be used as a tool for parents and educators, my primary focus within the lab is researching how media representations of marginalized populations affect attitudes towards these populations.

Undergraduate Students Currently Conducting Independent Research

Zeles Vargas: My project is a mixed-methods grounded theory study that examines the racial experiences of people of Mexican descent from childhood to young adulthood. The intent of this study is to explain the relevance of these events and their connection to the individual's current racial-ethnic identity status. Furthermore, through exploratory analyses, I am attempting to find patterns between identity statuses and demographic variables.

Azlynn Osborne: My research focuses on intersectionality. It primarily looks at sexuality, gender, and race.

Quadreon Miller: My research project uses critical race theory to explore the environmental stressors that contribute to the achievement gap in higher education for African American college students. More specifically, my research examines how perceived social support moderates the relationship between ethnic identity and psychological distress on academic performance.

Samuel VanVleet: I am interested in the way people view media and analyzing this through a critical race theory perspective. Specifically, I am interested in the impact of race and ethnicity imaging in comic book superheroes.

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