Children at Risk Cluster
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Christia Spears Brown, PhD

Department of Psychology


Research Interests

My general area of interest is children’s social group membership (e.g., racial and gender groups). More specifically, I am interested in how children understand and experience membership in low status social groups. I am currently investigating how children perceive themselves and others to be the targets of gender and racial discrimination, and how these perceptions are related to academic outcomes.

Current Projects

Dr. Brown is currently working on a three year grant from the Foundation for Child Development through the Young Scholars Program.
The research project (Children Succeeding During Demographic Shifts: How Discrimination and Ethnic Identity Predict the Academic Attitudes and Performance of Latino Children in a White Community) will examine factors related to the academic engagement and achievement of first- and second-generation Latino immigrant children in elementary school in a predominantly European American community. First, it will examine their perceptions of ethnic discrimination at the peer, school, and community level. At the peer level, the study will assess newcomer children’s experiences with peer teasing and exclusion. At the school level, the study will assess newcomer children’s perceptions of their teachers’ biases, and if relevant, their attributions about why they are enrolled in English as Second Language (ESL) program (i.e., do they perceive their teachers, and their placement into ESL, to be biased?). At the community level, the study will assess newcomer children’s perceptions of anti-immigration sentiments in the community. Second, the study will examine the development of ethnic identity as a potential buffer against discrimination. Finally, the study will examine elementary school characteristics, such as ethnic composition of the schools, how schools select children for and implement the ESL programs, and whether schools promote multiculturalism and tolerance. The study will assess how these factors are related to children’s attitudes about school (e.g., identification with school, intrinsic value of school) and academic performance over the course of two academic years.


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