Assistant Professor of Psychology
Professor Gillen-O’Neel’s research examines the social and educational implications of children’s collective identities—identities rooted in group membership, including demographic groups (e.g., ethnicity and gender) and institutional groups (e.g., school). She integrates theories and methods from developmental, social, and educational psychology in order to answer questions such as: How do children become aware of the stereotypes that affect their groups? She teaches “Research in Psychology II”, “Developmental Psychology”, and “Social Identities in Developing Lives.” Below is talks about her recent research.
The long-term goal is to be able to provide strategies and recommendations to parents for raising kids with positive racial attitudes.
My research looks at how kids start to understand their identities, especially racial identities. There’s a long history of ethnic racial socialization research in psychology, but it’s mostly focused on how families of color are preparing their kids for the racial realities they’re going to face in this society. But, how are white folks preparing their kids (e.g., teaching them how to avoid perpetuating stereotypes, biases, and discrimination)?
In 2018, we interviewed about 50 families from the same school and asked them qualitative questions. ‘Do you think your kids notice race? What kind of person do you want them to be? How are you achieving those goals?’ We asked the parents how their parents talked about race and usually they didn’t at all. Or if they did, they were racist.
We spoke to the kids, too, about their racial attitudes and their understandings of discrimination and privilege.
Now, we’re starting to pull some results from those interviews, and we’d like to eventually be able to correlate the kids’ attitudes to the parents’ actions.
The long-term goal is to be able to provide strategies and recommendations to parents for raising kids with positive racial attitudes. A lot of these parents want that for their kids but feel like they’re flying blind. They feel like they’re having to write this book themselves.
September 16 2020Back to top