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Introducing Our First Mary Whiton Calkins Research Grant Awardees

In 2017, the inaugural year of the APF/SGP Mary Whiton Calkins Research Grant, two outstanding young researchers were selected as grant recipients: Erin Cooley and Manyu Li.
By Deborah F. Johnson, PhD

Erin Cooley, PhD


Erin Cooley, PhD Erin Cooley, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Colgate University. She received her PhD in social psychology with a concentration in quantitative psychology from the University of North Carolina under the direction of B. Keith Payne. Her research examines the cognitive, affective, and physiological mechanisms underlying group conflict and discrimination.

Cooley's current research investigates the consequences of cross-race friendships (in particular, with white people) for within-group dynamics among people of color. The intent of this research is to develop a more holistic understanding of the effects of cross-race friendships not only for between-group relations (the predominant focus of existing research) but also within-group relations (the focus of her research).

Calkins Grant Project

"Developing love for the out-group without sacrificing perceived loyalty to the in-group: Testing an intervention to maximize the benefits of cross-race friendships."

One of the most consistently supported strategies for minimizing white people's bias toward other racial groups is the development of cross-race friendships (Allport, 1954; Davies, Tropp, Aron, Pettigrew & Wright, 2010; Pettigrew, 1998; Pettigrew & Tropp, 2006; Schroeder & Risen, 2016). Yet both qualitative (Bell-Jordan, 2008), and experimental data (Johnson & Ashburn-Nardo, 2014), suggest that people of color who befriend white people can experience accusations of being "white-washed" or "breaking the racial code" — accusations that primarily come from members of their own racial group. Thus, while close relationships between people of color and white people may be a reliable way to increase harmony between racial groups, those relationships may simultaneously increase conflict within racial groups. Building from this reasoning, the aim of the present proposal is two-fold. First, researchers will empirically test if people of color who engage in friendships with white people are perceived as inauthentic and disloyal by those within their own racial group. If so, researchers will test a potential intervention (i.e., encouraging people to view their own racial identity as fluid rather than fixed) designed to minimize this form of racial bias from one's own racial group and to maximize the benefits of cross-race friendships for eople of color.

Cooley has already gathered data that support the first hypothesis. She is currently conducting studies to assess factors that moderate this "perceived inauthenticity" from other members of their racial group and is testing interventions to minimize this form of in-group racial bias.

Manyu Li, PhD

Manyu Li, PhD Manyu Li, PhD, is an assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She received her PhD in personality and social psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, under the direction of Irene Frieze, PhD. Li studies migration and immigration, place attachment, community engagement and cross-cultural psychology.

Calkins Grant Project

"The psychological impact of natural disasters in the Gulf coast: Mediating effects of place attachment, community support and hassles and uplifts"

Li and her collaborator Theresa Wozencraft, PhD, counseling psychologist and associate professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, are studying the psychological impact of natural disasters in the Gulf Coast. Utilizing the perspectives of environmental, social, community and counseling psychology, their project will examine how place attachment disruption, community support and hassles and uplifts mediate the relations between experiences of natural disasters and negative psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety and stress (DASS) and subjective well-being.

The study is being conducted in neighborhoods in the Gulf coast where natural disasters, such as tornados, hurricanes and floods, frequently cause the loss of homes. Integrating the perspectives of environmental, social, community and counseling psychology, this project aims to examine how stress caused by natural disaster relates to negative psychological consequences, as well as place attachment and residential mobility. The first phase of the project involved detailed interviews with victims of natural disasters living in the Gulf Coast.

In the project's second stage, ~200 participants will be recruited from neighborhoods that had been affected by natural disasters in the past five years. Qualified participants who gave their informed consent were asked to participate in a 20-minute survey. Sample characteristics and preliminary analyses of the tested variables will be compiled. The relations between socio-demographic variables, such as age, race and ethnicity, gender, SES and the tested variables will be examined using ANOVA (group differences) and correlations (continuous variables). These factors will be entered into the model to control for any possible effects. A hypothesized structural equation model looking at the mediating variables on the relations between experiences of natural disasters and negative psychological consequences will be tested.

The investigators hope to extend their findings to the loss of home due to other disasters than hurricanes, such as earthquake and war.

Information on the Calkins Research Grant

The Society for General Psychology, working with the American Psychological Foundation (APF) has created the Calkins Research Grant to support research by faculty who identify undergraduate education as their primary focus. Named for the first female president of the APA, the APF/Society for General Psychology Mary Whiton Calkins Research Grant is awarded competitively to support research that integrates multiple perspectives from psychology's subfields or addresses overarching themes in general psychology, consistent with the mission of Div. 1.

Important: The deadline for 2018 Mary Whiton Calkins Grant applications is Sept. 17, 2018. Please see the grant posting for more information on the application process.

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