Department of Psychology

Department of Psychology

The Department of Psychology


The Social Justice and Community Psychology Research Lab in the Psychology Department at California State University at Los Angeles is directed by Dr. Kimberly King. Our lab is currently conducting research in 2 primary areas: 1) The sexual harassment experiences of college students of color and 2) The effects of political ideology related to social identity on perceptions and experiences of prejudice.

Sexual Harassment Experiences among College Students of Color

Research has found that between 13 and 50% of female college students report experiences such as verbal sexual advances, physical advances, and sexist remarks about their clothing, body, or sexual activities by professors (Adams, Kottke, and Padgitt, 1983; Dziech and Weiner, 1984; Fitzgerald et al., 1988). When sexual harassment is defined more broadly to include offensive comments and jokes about women, the prevalence rate rises to over 70% (Fitzgerald et al., 1988). Although advances have been made in the study of sexual harassment in higher education, a major gap in the existing literature is the absence of data about the experiences of college women of color.

Oor current research is interested in determining the prevalence and nature of sexual harassment in a sample of Asian, Latina, and African American women students at an urban university. It also examines the definitions and perceptions of sexual harassment among women of color and demographic and political ideology factors that may predict these. In particular, the role of ethnic identity, feminist identity and womanism (the combination of ethnic and feminist identities) in predicting definitions and perceptions of sexual harassment among women of color.

The data for this study was collected at California State University at Los Angeles during the Winter and Spring Quarters of 2000. We have over 500 completed questionnaires and are in the process of data analysis.

Sociopolitical Identity and Perceptions of Prejudice

Our research in this area focuses on the social identity and perceptions of prejudice among African American women. The specific experiences of women of color have seldom been examined empirically; rather, most research on race does not explore gender, while research on gender seldom considers how it interacts with race. Yet, African American women, for example, are simultaneously members of oppressed racial and gender groups and may experience unique interactive forms of race and gender prejudice.

The current research examines the relationship between sociopolitical identity (i.e., ethnic identity, feminist identity, and womanist identity) and perceptions of prejudice. We found that both ethnic and womanist identity were important predictors of the extent and type of prejudice that was perceived by African American women in an attributionally ambiguous intergroup situation. We also found that women who perceived greater amounts of prejudice in the situation suffered from decreased state self-esteem and increased stress.

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