Research

The hallmark of HDFS research in lifespan human development involves the integration of individual development and the critical contexts of development, using cutting-edge modeling techniques to better understand the diversity, resilience and strengths of individuals and families over the life course. Faculty affiliated with Family Diversity have streams of research that emphasize the impact of socio-cultural influences on and meaning making of diverse families. This includes the intersection between culture and varying economic/social statuses on family processes and child outcomes primarily among diverse ethnic/racial groups in a wide range of ecological contexts. We also have exciting new faculty who joined our department conducting seminal research on gender based violence, sexuality, and technology.

Examples of Current Faculty and Research Projects

Megan K. Maas, Ph.D.

Dr. Maas’ research agenda consists of three primary foci: 1) understanding the development of sexual competencies among female adolescents; 2) understanding the context of internet media for the sexual development and socialization of adolescents and emerging adults; and 3) developing evidenced-based preventative interventions that prevent gender-based violence and promote sexual health and wellbeing. Her current NIH-funded work focuses on sexually abused female adolescents and internet use. She is also researching bystander interventions for sexual assault prevention on college campuses as well as internet pornography use, social media, and revenge porn among high-school and college students.

Heather L. McCauley, ScD

Dr. McCauley’s NIH-funded research focuses on the health impacts of intimate partner violence and sexual assault among marginalized adolescents and young adults, including youth in foster care and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Her current work includes social network mapping to understand the support systems of youth in foster care, and developing clinical interventions to help health care providers talk to their LGBT patients about healthy relationships.

Deborah J. Johnson, Ph.D.

Dr. Johnson’s research explores racially and culturally related development, parental racial socialization and coping, cultural adjustment from early childhood through emerging adulthood, in both domestic and international children and youth. Racial-ethnic identity development and the coping skills as a protective mechanisms of African American and other children in diverse settings, has been a central interest. The ongoing cultural adjustment of Sudanese refugees continues to be a focal area in which themes of resilience and identity as resilience, sense of purpose as resilience, have been emphasized. Current work focus on the influence of early bias preparation and coping at the intersection of gender and race among African American and Latina College women, and the impact on their well-being and school performance. We continue our work with South Sudanese refugees focusing on gender as well as tridimensional aspects of identity alignment, resilience and adjustment processes, moving to use of a national assessment of resettled South Sudanese. Other projects include we explore the relations among identity and racial socialization in varying global contexts where social history and currently public policy impact the experience of oppression, these researches include Indigenous Australians and Roma youth from Bulgaria, where we recently revised and translated our racial-ethnic socialization measure into Bulgarian. Her most recent book focuses on her international research of cultural adjustment and vulnerable children, Deborah J. Johnson, DeBrenna Agbényiga, & Robert Hitchcock (Eds.). (2013). Vulnerable Children: Global Challenges in Education, Health, Well-Being, and Child Rights. New York, NY: Springer.

Desiree Baolian Qin, Ed.D.

Dr. Qin’s research centers on culture, immigrant families, and Asian American adolescent development. She is especially interested in the achievement/adjustment paradox – while some students may have higher levels of academic achieving, but they struggle more than peers in their psychosocial adjustment. The main question underlying her work is: How do globalization, immigration, culture, gender, and important ecological contexts (e.g., family, peers, school, and community) impact adolescent and emerging adult development? Her research projects have focused on 1) academic, sociocultural, and psychological adaptation of recently arrived immigrant families and children, 2) mental health of high achieving Asian American students, and 3) cultural differences in parenting including tiger mothers. Dr Qin is currently leading a longitudinal, mixed-method study with three other MSU professors and a large team of students that focuses on academic, psychosocial and cultural adaptation of Chinese international students. This project is funded by the Spencer Foundation. In her next project, she is interested in exploring parenting across cultures, especially parent ethnic/racial socialization of biracial children.

Yijie Wang, Ph.D.

Dr. Wang’s research centers on the development of racial/ethnic minority youth. Her work investigates how socio-cultural processes (e.g., ethnic/racial socialization, discrimination) in multiple developmental settings (e.g., family, peer, school) influence youth’s psychosocial and psychobiological adjustment. She is particularly interested in diversity in social settings and how such diversity impacts development and well-being. She has two primary projects. The first project examines ethnic/racial socialization and discrimination in adolescents’ peer groups and how these processes interact with family contexts to impact adolescents’ psychological, academic, and physiological well-being. This project integrates social network, daily diary, and longitudinal designs to explore how everyday experiences in peer groups accumulate to influence development. The second project examines the social norms of adolescents’ risky health behaviors across family, peer, and school settings. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), this project links various profiles of social norms to adolescents’ substance use and risky sexual behaviors. This project is funded by the National Institute of Health.