Our lab's examines social-psychological processes that contribute to inequality. One context in which we have examined these processes is that of teacher-student relationships and race disparities in disciplinary action . Our research emphasizes the on-going interplay between processes that originate among teachers (how stereotyping can influence discipline) and students (how apprehension to bias can incite misbehavior) to examine causes for disproportionate discipline according to race. The intersection of these processes, we hypothesize, undermines teacher-student relationships over time, contributes to disproportionate discipline to racially stigmatized students, and ultimately feeds the “school-to-prison” pipeline. By investigating basic processes that contribute to misinterpreted and misguided disrespect among teachers and students, we aim to develop novel interventions that help racially stigmatized youth succeed in school and reduce their risk of discipline problems.

We are also working on a project in collaboration with the Juvenile Justice Center in Alameda County to ease youth offender’s transition back into school. The work is leveraging relevant social psychological theory to test a large-scale intervention to help youth offenders see the promise in school settings to reach their goals and overcome challenges in the process. This project is poised to contribute to lacking literature on the challenges youth offenders face and how social psychology on mindsets can help them to adjust to new challenges they face.