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Exploring the ways culture, race, and ethnicity are related to emotional development and well-being.


S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for School, Home, and Internet contexts of EmotionaL Development

It is important to understand the aspects of schools, homes, technology, and media that contribute to positive outcomes among our youth. These aspects help our youth build their own SHIELDs (e.g., social skills, emotional skills, coping skills, social problem solving strategies, critical consciousness) that not only help to protect youth from negative experiences but also apply more broadly to their overall happiness and success. A SHIELD is not only important in the face of great and major threat, but is also important for the minor and everyday experience of living.


Our Mission

We develop our understanding of emotion within a cultural context from experiences that happen with family members at home, peers and teachers at school, and even through the social interactions we have using technology (e.g., mobile technology, the Internet). This means that our thoughts about emotions and our experiences with our emotions are largely shaped by our societal beliefs and expectations that are passed onto us by our families, schools, and other institutions.

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Our primary line of research investigates the ways that racial-ethnic experiences across contexts are related to ethnic-racial minority youth’s emotional development. These projects allow us to develop culturally-relevant models of emotional development that are informed by the experiences of Black and Brown people. Our work spans across several themes described below.


racial & cultural experiences

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Lab focuses on the ways racial and cultural experiences are connected to emotional and social development. We investigate how racial identity and race-related experiences interact with other types of socializing factors (the family, school context, media) in a way that uniquely influences well-being. For example, we are interested in the ways racial identity and race-related experiences inform the ways parents teach their children about emotions.

internet & media influences

Technology provides youth with an additional place for social interaction and connection. As communication through the Internet and social media has become a common feature of many social interactions and relationships, it is important to identify the ways in which these experiences contribute to one’s social and emotional skills. The S.H.IE.L.D. Lab is interested in how positive and negative Internet and media experiences impact emotional development.

family socialization & functioning

The family is one of the first places adolescents learn about emotions. Family members send direct and indirect messages about emotions to their adolescents. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Lab investigates how these messages are sent and what these messages about emotions are while also focusing on how they affect adolescent development and outcomes.

positive youth development

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Lab focuses on studying and identifying factors that lead to positive youth development, with an emphasis on positive social and emotional competence. Are there certain ways parents teach about emotion that are associated with greater emotional competence? Do certain interactions with social media teach positive social and emotional skills? These questions provide only a few examples of the ways the S.H.I.E.L.D. Lab strives to study and promote positive youth development.

School experiences

Children and adolescents spend an abundance of their time at school. Beyond academic experiences, schools also provide a basis for learning about the nature of social interactions and ways to appropriately manage and display emotions outside of the home. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Lab examines the ways relationships and experiences at school inform emotional development.