Health, Intersectionality, Essentialism, & Stigma Research Team

The Health, Intersectionality, Essentialism, & Stigma (HIES) Research Team examines how different dimensions of stigma become embodied at multiple levels to affect racial and sexual minority health. Namely, rather than approaching stigmas as fixed “traits” that individuals possess (c.f. Goffman, 1963), we examine stigma as a dynamic and relational social psychological process to reveal how it reinforces and reproduces health inequality. We examine how race, sexual orientation, and stigma operate from the perspective of both perceivers (i.e., people whose perceptions and judgments stigmatize others) and targets (i.e., people who are the targets of stigmatizing perceptions and judgments). In one line of work, we investigate the social and psychological determinants of racial and sexual minority health. With a second line of work, we examine how biological race essentialism—via mechanisms of implicit bias, stereotyping, and prejudice—impacts people’s health-related judgments of racial minoritized groups. We use intersectionality as an organizing framework to understand how interlocking social structures and identities shape the experiences of, and the processes by which, different forms of oppression affect the health of marginalized groups.

Social and Psychological determinants of health & Internalized oppression

This research investigates the antecedents and consequences of internalized oppression (i.e., incorporation and acceptance by individuals within an oppressed group of the prejudices against them within the dominant society; Tappan, 2006), and other social and psychological determinants of health (Healthy People, 2030), the mechanisms through which they contribute to racial and sexual minority health inequities, and the factors that exacerbate or mitigate these effects on health.

Biological race essentialism

With this line of research, we examine how racialist ideologies— “the belief that there are heritable characteristics… that allow us to divide [people] into a small set of races, in such a way that all the members of these races share certain traits and tendencies…” (Appiah, 1990, p.4)—might explain exisiting race health disparities, above and beyond slight individual genetic differences (see Goodman, 2000). Using stigma as a framework, this research investigates social, health, and behavioral consequences of falsely believing that "race is a biological reality".