How Discrimination Seeps In: Implications for Health and Attainment
Substantial racial-ethnic disparities remain in health and educational outcomes; these gaps are not fully explained by socioeconomic status or school and healthcare access and quality. In this talk, Emma Adam presents a new theoretical model proposing that the psychological stress associated with being a stigmatized racial/ethnic minority group and the psychological and biological responses elicited by that stress may be a factor contributing to racial/ethnic (especially black-white) gaps in achievement and health.
An applied developmental psychobiologist, Adam has been with Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy since 2000. She studies how everyday life experiences in home, school, and work settings influence levels of perceived and biological stress in children, adolescents, and young adults. Her work traces the pathways by which stress "gets under the skin" to contribute to youth outcomes. By using noninvasive methods such as measurement of the stress-sensitive hormone cortisol, and measurement of sleep hours and quality, she is identifying the key factors that cause biological stress in children and adolescents, and the implications of biological stress for daily functioning and for disparities in emotional and physical health, cognition, and academic outcomes.
Adam received her Ph.D. in child psychology from the University of Minnesota and an MA in public policy from the University of Chicago.