The Department of Psychology at Southern Methodist University values diversity and is committed to (1) recruiting and retaining faculty members, students, and staff from various backgrounds, and (2) contributing to research and education that emphasizes multicultural issues. Diversity is broadly defined to include (but is not limited to) race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, religion, age, ability, and socioeconomic status. Members in the Department strive to create and maintain an inclusive, welcoming, and supportive environment, and to embrace individual and group differences. We strongly believe that diversity informs the best practices in research, teaching, clinical practice, and social justice in our profession.
Several of our faculty members conduct research in marginalized populations, including immigrants, children and older adults, survivors of intimate partner violence, and persons with various health conditions. Beyond contributing to faculty-led projects, a number of our graduate students are highly motivated to expand SMU's scope of research related to diversity.
The joint research lab of Drs. Ernest N. Jouriles and Renee McDonald studies sexual and physical violence directed at high-school and college-aged women, and methods for preventing such violence. The lab also has a long history of research on intimate partner violence (IPV) with a focus on its relation to child problems. This includes intervention research designed to assist women and children who have had to live with such violence. The lab has recently developed a program of research directed toward understanding factors related to resilience among diverse groups of adolescents who have been confronted with adversity (e.g., sexual abuse, discrimination).
Nguyen, J. (2020). Sexual Victimization, Sexual Orientation, and Engagement in Hookups. Thesis research supervised by E. N. Jouriles and R. McDonald.
Jouriles, E. N., Gower, T., Rancher, C., Johnson, E., Jackson, M. L., & McDonald, R. (2020). Families seeking services for sexual abuse: Intimate partner violence, mothers’ psychological distress, and mother-adolescent conflict. Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publication.
Dr. Austin Baldwin conducts research focused on understanding the affective, cognitive, and motivational factors that influence individuals’ decisions to engage in and maintain health behaviors. This includes research to understand how to adapt and optimize health behavior interventions and among diverse populations (SES, race/ethnicity), as well as how to measure health behavior in diverse populations.
Baldwin, A.S., Zhu, H., Rochefort, C.R., Marks, E., Fullington, H.M., Rodriguez, S.A., Kassa, S., & Tiro, J.A. (2021). Mechanisms of self-persuasion intervention for HPV vaccination: Testing memory and autonomous motivation. Health Psychology, 40, 887-896.
Rochefort, C., Baldwin, A. S., Tiro, J., & Bowen, M. E. (2020). Evaluating the Validity of the Risk Perception Survey for Developing Diabetes Scale in a Safety-Net Clinic Population of English and Spanish Speakers. The Diabetes Educator, 46(1), 73-82.
Dr. Chrystyna Kouros studies how the quality of family interactions is associated with individuals’ mental health over time. Among family processes, her work focuses primarily on children’s exposure to everyday marital disagreements and parental depression. Dr. Kouros’ research emphasizes the importance of studying these association among neurodiverse populations of children. Her current NICHD-funded study is examining how various family processes are linked with co-occurring internalizing symptoms among children on the autism spectrum.
Kouros, C. D., & Ekas, N. V. (2017-2020). Identifying longitudinal mechanisms linking the quality of family relationships and comorbid internalizing symptoms among children with autism spectrum disorder. Research study funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. SMU graduate assistants involved in this research: Chelsea N. Carson, Emily Johnson, Sharyl E. Wee.
Collaboration with Dr. Nancy Yu at City University of Hong Kong on study funded by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, titled Congruence in Immigrant Mother-child Dyads: Examining
Qu, D., Kouros, C. D., & Yu, N. Z. (2020). Congruence and discrepancy in migrant children’s and their mothers’ perceived discrimination: Using response surface analysis to examine the effects on distress.
Qu, D., Huang, J., Kouros, C. D., & Yu, N,. Z. (2020). Dyadic effects of fluid mindset on psychological growth in immigrant mothers and their children: Indirect effect of resilience. Family Process.
Dr. Stephanie Wilson examines how the health effects of close relationships, especially marriage and partnership, may evolve across adulthood and older age. Much of the scientific literature assumes that a happy marriage benefits the physical health of people in all age groups equally. However, older adults are underrepresented in health research due to medical exclusions, and developmental processes may fundamentally shift the landscape of these associations. Dr. Wilson’s work, therefore, uncovers how relationship dynamics unfold with age, and how social-emotional and biological changes across adulthood may amplify or dampen the effects of our social lives on the health of our aging bodies.
Cortez, J. I., & Wilson, S. J. (2020). Older and Younger Adults’ Attention to Their Partner’s Emotional Disclosure. Administrative Supplement Diversity Fellowship from the National Institute on Aging (R00 AG056667-04S1).
Jones, A., Wilson, S. J., Shrout, M. R., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2020). Seeing the past through rose-colored glasses? Age differences in recounting a difficult memory. Poster abstract submitted to the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.
Dr. Holly Bowen is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies how affective states, specifically emotion and motivation, influence how we form memories and remember past experiences. She is particularly interested in how the links between emotion, motivation and memory are impacted by age-related changes. While aging is often associated with declines in memory and brain health, Dr. Bowen’s research has contributed to the evidence that affective processes, such as sensitivity to rewards, sometimes improve with age. Dr. Bowen’s research on these topics may stimulate the development of memory interventions, as well as research into pharmacological treatment of age-related memory decline.
Bowen, H.J. Gallant, S.N. & Moon, D.H. (2020) Influence of Reward Motivation on Directed Forgetting in Younger and Older Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 11:1764.
Bowen, H.J., Ford, J.H., Grady, C.L. & Spaniol, J. (2020). Frontostriatal Functional Connectivity Supports Reward-Enhanced Memory in Older Adults. Neurobiology of Aging, 90, 1-12.
The Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program presents two awards annually to doctoral students for research on diversity (beginning in the 2022-23 academic year).
Outstanding Research on Diversity – This award is presented to the graduate student who published the most outstanding peer-reviewed manuscript on diversity during the previous academic year. The award is presented in May, at the same time our Outstanding Graduate Student Award is presented. Members of the department’s Committee on Diversity and the SMU Psychology Doctoral Program Science Committee read submitted manuscripts and vote on the winner.
Diversity Research Grant – This is a $500 grant to help a graduate student who is proposing to conduct an original research study that emphasizes diversity. The project has to include an original data collection, and it must be for a research project other than the student’s thesis or dissertation. Proposals are due on March 1, and evaluated by members of the department’s Committee on Diversity and the SMU Psychology Doctoral Program Science Committee. Learn More and Apply
Mustang Fellowships – Mustang Fellowships provide tuition waivers, health insurance, and stipends of $30,000 for up to five years for Ph.D. students who are US citizens or permanent residents and identify as diverse in their disciplines. Ph.D. program applicants are invited to submit themselves for consideration for this fellowship through a brief essay in their application, explaining why their educational, cultural, geographic, or familial background will contribute to graduate program diversity at SMU. This essay accompanies their application, which is due by December 1. Departments are allowed to nominate candidates for the Mustang Fellowship as part of their application review process in the Spring.
*SMU University Ph.D. Fellowships and Mustang Fellowships are awarded on the basis of a university-wide competition. To find out more about these awards, please visit the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies website on graduate student funding.
In addition to opportunities in conducting impactful and innovative research on diversity-related topics, the doctoral program requires students to compete coursework on diversity. This includes a specific course devoted to diversity entitled Cultural and Individual Diversity: Principles and Best Practices in Research and Applications (PSYC 6345)
Issues of ethnicity and culture are covered in most courses taken by doctoral students. For example, Clinical Research Methods covers best practices for recruiting diverse samples. Theories and Methods of Psychotherapy covers clinical practice guidelines for working with diverse populations. Supervision and Consultation covers best practices for working with underrepresented minority groups.
The doctoral students also attend a research colloquium series and a practicum seminar, both of which include many diversity-related topics. Speakers include both SMU faculty members and students, as well as researchers from other institutions, with some from diverse backgrounds.
Titles of Recent Presentations
Unpacking the Roles of Acculturation in Alcohol Use Outcomes
Reducing Racial Microaggressions on College Campuses
Measurement Nonequivalence of the Five Factor Model of Personality
An Overview of the Humanitarian Immigration Provisions
Working with African American Populations in the Mental Health Field
Evidence-based practice for children and adolescents with low cognitive functioning
Increasing representation of historically marginalized groups in graduate training highlights our commitment to promoting equity. Further, students from diverse backgrounds come together naturally in our department to share, listen, and discuss unique perspectives on psychological science and culture. We believe having a diverse student body is a strength of our program.
According to a summary report on student demographics published by the American Psychological Association (APA) on Graduate Study in Psychology 2017, in doctoral programs 72% of the students are reported to be female and 28% are reported to be male. The race and ethnicity breakdown in doctoral programs is 71% Whites/Euro Americans and 29% SOC/ethnic minorities. Please note that the APA report aggregates data across different types of doctoral programs in psychology (e.g., clinical, developmental, industrial-organizational, social), not just clinical psychology programs.
Doctoral students in the clinical psychology program gain clinical experience with individuals from varying cultural, ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic backgrounds throughout their training. All students begin their clinical work in the SMU Psychology Clinic, a departmental training clinic that provides evidence-based assessment and psychotherapy on a sliding scale. The SMU Psychology Clinic attracts clients who are underserved members of our community, and from diverse backgrounds.
The SMU Psychology Clinic has also partnered with the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, a local organization providing legal and support services to refugees and immigrants who have suffered human rights abuses. Under the supervision of the clinic director, graduate student trainees conduct pro bono psychological evaluations for individuals seeking legal protections through this organization. This partnership has allowed us to expand the clinic’s community outreach goal, while providing a valuable training experience for students.
Doctoral students also work with an array of clinical professionals and client populations from differing backgrounds on their external practicum placements at community agencies, hospitals, and other practicum sites. For example, based on student interest, the program now offers a practicum at a juvenile detention center and in the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), which is the second-largest school district in Texas and the 16th-largest in the United States. Within DISD, 70% of the student body identifies as Hispanic, 24% identify as African American, and 5% identify as White.
The Diversity Committee is a team of doctoral students and faculty members who meet regularly to address the department's goals related to diversity. Operating ad hoc, members are working on a number of projects this year (2022-2023). These projects include an assessment on DEI topics to gather information about needs and concerns within the department; working with the Social Change and Intercultural Engagement office and the Women and LGBT Center at SMU to organize a series of psychoeducation workshops on stigma and related topics for the broader student population; updating information and resources on the diversity website; and enhancing diversity and inclusivity in the graduate admissions process. The presence of the Diversity Committee promotes a progressive and welcoming atmosphere in our graduate program and department.
The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (DFW) Metroplex is located in the north east of Texas. It is the fourth largest metroplex with a population of 7.5 million residents, and is one of the fastest growing areas of the United States. Its population is highly diverse with 18.8% of residents being foreign born and 32.3% speaking a second language at home. According to the U.S. Census, residents of the DFW Metroplex are 46% White, 29% Hispanic, 16% Black, 7% Asian, and 2% of residents identify as two or more races.
Due to Dallas’ location in a growing urban setting, there are research and clinical opportunities to engage with underserved and diverse populations. This includes the largest growing refugee population in the country. It also includes a large veteran population (6.4%) served by the second largest Veterans Affairs healthcare system in the USA.
In addition to graduate program opportunities, DFW is an active community that features a variety of entertainment. It is home to the largest urban arts district in the country and incoming students and faculty can take advantage of local and state parks, professional and collegiate sports, entertainment districts, and restaurants.