Current and Ongoing Projects

Moin Syed: Immigration and Identity in Sweden

The purpose of this project is to understand the cultural context of Swedish immigrants’ psychological adjustment. Despite the global social importance of immigration, the majority of psychological research has been conducted within the U.S., a country that emphasizes cultural assimilation. Sweden, on the other hand, is a country in which multiculturalism may be both permitted and facilitated. The purpose of this project is to 1) begin to understand the cultural context of immigration in Sweden, 2) examine how immigrant and non-immigrant youth develop a positive sense of ethnic identity within this context, and 3) explore how the interaction between youth’s ethnic identities and the cultural content of immigration may be relevant for psychological functioning. Taken together, the findings from this project will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the psychological experience of immigrants in a global context.

Moin Syed: Personal Projects and the Development of Virtue

What constitutes virtue and well-being? Do they develop together? These questions have been debated by philosophers for centuries and continue to be an active area of inquiry among philosophers and psychologists. One point of agreement is that success in at least some of one’s personal projects (such as in relationships, occupation, or education) is crucial for well-being. Further, a broad view of virtue is that it reflects qualities that aid one in pursuing personal projects or in helping others to pursue theirs. We build on these general observations to study the development of virtue in young adulthood, by using an innovative methodology to study the details of people’s personal projects over time. This method, Personal Projects Analysis (PPA), combines qualitative assessment of people’s various idiosyncratic projects with quantitative assessments of various qualities of each project. PPA allows a thorough mapping of people’s characteristic adaptations, that is, the various goals, interpretations, and strategies that contribute to their projects and that constitute a crucial but understudied component of the self.

Lovey Walker: Processes of Identity Integration: An Examination in the Sports Arena (Doctoral Dissertation)

I am testing Erik Erikson’s theoretical ideas about identity integration and well-being to better understand links between identity and positive adjustment. To do this, I am currently using both quantitative and qualitative data to to examine the identity events that ethnically diverse college students have with regards to their ethnic and sports related experiences. 

Jillian Fish: Mentoring Native American College Students in the Sciences

Given that there is limited research concerning the role that mentoring plays in the academic success of Native American college students in the sciences, I am exploring how various factors in mentoring relationships relate to students' identities as scientists using cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of data collected from Native American college students affiliated with the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

Jillian Fish: Native Americans in Higher Education: An Ecological Systems Perspective

I am using Urie Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory as a framework to integrate the current literature on Native American college students within psychology. In doing so, I hope to highligh areas for growth when researching academic persistence in Native American college students.

Sarah Nelson: The Content of Cultural Socialization Messages

While a great deal is known about the frequency of family cultural socialization messaging and the impact of these messages on ethnic identity development, there has been little work on the specific content of these messages.  In this narrative study, I will examine the content and narrative processes of cultural socialization messages from parents and peers as reported by ethnic minority young adults.

Sarah Nelson: Cultural Socialization by Parents and Peers​

Given the developmental context of emerging adulthood, we chose to examine parent and peer cultural socialization of race and ethnicity in order to parse out these influences. Using a multi-cohort, meta-analysis framework, we examined how parent and peer cultural socialization are differently related to ethnic identity develop and psychological functioning outcomes. 

Sarah Nelson: Identity and the Body

While Erikson (1968) discussed the relationship between identity and the body little work has been linking these concepts. In this study, using data from and in collaboration with Ann Frisén's lab at the University of Gotheberg in Sweden, we are exploring the relationship between trajectories of change and stability in body esteem from ages 10 to 24 and the relationship between these trajectories to identity development constructs.

Alex Ajayi: Intergroup Aptitudes: Predictors and Implications (Doctoral Dissertation)

Attitudes and worldviews people hold about intergroup relations can have important psychological implications at individual and group levels. However, we know relatively little about how such attitudes develop.  In this study, I hope to shed light on the psychosocial determinants of intergroup attitudes and how these belief systems impact social, academic, and psychological outcomes—to inform efforts to reduce bias, discrimination, and social stress.

Lauren Mitchell: Emerging Adulthood Outside the College Context

The majority of research on emerging adulthood relies heavily on college student participants, largely because they are so easy to recruit.  This project involves testing our assumptions about what emerging adulthood is like for non-students, using data from the large longitudinal Add Health dataset.

Lauren Mitchell: Race in Crime Alerts

Inspired by UMN student activism around diversity and inclusivity, this project examines the impact of race in university crime alert suspect descriptions.  I am interested in whether including race improves community members' accuracy in identifying suspects, and also the negative impacts that racialized crime alerts can have for underrepresented minority students.

Lauren Mitchell: Public Perceptions of Emerging Adults

I collected data at the Minnesota State Fair to learn more about public perceptions of youth ages 18-25.  Researchers and the media have characterized this generation as optimistic, narcissistic, or struggling.  In this project, I examine whether members of different age groups endorse those characterizations, and what real impacts these perceptions might have for youth.


Lauren Mitchell: Emerging Adults' Thoughts on Emerging Adulthood (Doctoral Dissertation)

In this mixed methods study, I will investigate emerging adults' reactions to the images of their generation that have been constructed by researchers and media.  I also explore the relationship between characterizations of youth and the real lived experiences of young adults as they transition to adulthood.  This study will include both college students and youth without college experience.


Hasan Atak: Need For Closure, Parental Bonding, Agentic Personality, and Identity Formation among Turkish and American Emerging Adults

My first aim is to test identity formation processes during emerging adulthood within a model which includes: need for closure, parental bonding and agentic personality as primary variables. The second aim is to compare the model in two groups of emerging adults who are Turkish emerging adults and American emerging adults. My final aim is to investigate individualization types among Turkish and American emerging adults and the relationship with identity formation. A total of 1000 individuals from two different cultural backgrounds will be participating in the study.