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Culture-Sensitive Implementation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Kerala Schools: An Evidence-based Intervention Framework (Dr. Chinchu C., Nithin Lalachan, Shadiya Akbar K. P., Rhithu Vimal, Varsha Vimal)

This project aims to address the issue of incorporating Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools in Kerala, India, developing an intervention framework focusing on reducing stigma, addressing misinformation, and advocating for culture-sensitive implementation based on evidence from the field and secondary data. With high human development, literacy levels, and a strong universal public education system, the Kerala state in India presents a good chance to create a model for implementing CSE in schools with the help of a culturally sensitive curriculum and implementation plan.

Eliminating Barriers to Guardianship and Conservatorship for the Neurocognitively Impaired in Yavapai County (John Woodman, Diana Orem, Kathy Ryder, Michele Gazica)

Recently Yavapai County, AZ has been experiencing an influx in cases of aging adults experiencing mental health challenges who do not have access to appropriate guardianship or conservatorship to assist them. As a result there is a burden on both public and private institutions who assist these individuals. The purpose of the present research is to quantify the burden on the county through data collection and analysis and identify solutions to assist the individuals and county. 

Using public health messages to reduce HIV stigma: Examining the effectiveness of 'Undetectable = Untransmittable'" (Shayna Skakoon-Sparling, Paolo A. Palma, Daniel Grace)

In 2016, the ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ (U=U) campaign was launched to inform the public about the efficacy of HIV treatments and reduce HIV stigma. Despite these campaigns, there are still challenges in communicating about U=U. For example, qualitative interviews with HIV-negative gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBM)  show that they remain skeptical of U=U and do not consider a partner’s viral load in their sexual decision making. This project will examine the efficacy of U=U messaging to better inform the construction and disbursement of such campaigns in Ontario, Canada.


Former Grant Awardees


Restoring New York City’s Afterschool Workforce: Leveraging Applied Research for Public Policy Action (Sophia Hwang, Elise Cappella, and Michael Kieffer, New York University; Miranda Yates, Good Shepherd Services and New York University)

This project will develop policy-practice briefs based on original research conducted by the investigators focusing on the needs and experiences of the afterschool workforce and youth in program. These briefs will be developed through an iterative community engagement process between New York University and Good Shepherd Services and highlight evidence-based action items and policy recommendations. This project will also strategically disseminate these briefs to afterschool stakeholders, advocates, and policy-makers throughout New York City and State to inform regional decisions about the mechanisms funding afterschool programming. Ultimately, this project aims to influence local-and state-level afterschool policies to better support the afterschool workforce and the youth and families they serve.

Early Childhood Expulsion in Illinois Amidst COVID-19 (Callie Silver, Katherine M. Zinsser, and Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, University of Illinois at Chicago)

Across the country, 17,000 preschoolers are expelled or suspended from their early childhood programs each year for displaying challenging behaviors that educators are not equipped to handle. In response to the high and disproportionate rates of expulsion from early childhood care and education (ECCE) settings, Illinois passed Public Act 100-0105, which prohibits the expulsion of any child in a state-licensed or funded ECCE program. This project seeks to: Capture rates and demographics of exclusionary discipline in the absence of a statewide data system; identify ECCE program administrator’s remaining concerns and barriers to compliance with the legislation; and assess the impacts of COVID-19-related program closures on exclusion and re-admission decisions.

Mind the (Implementation) Gap: A Critical Analysis of Police Department Commitment to Community-Oriented Policing, Its Implementation Process, and Outcomes (Jan Mooney, Iris Fraude, and Rachel Siegal, University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Community-oriented policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime. This project focuses on the State of North Carolina and seeks to 1) Evaluate the availability and applicability of overlapping and publicly available department-level data addressing racial disparities in police use-of-force incidents, the extent to which police recruits are trained in community policing practices, the existence of problem-solving community partnerships, the extent to which departments seek external support in conducting community policing, and the degree to which departments openly emphasize their values and goals (i.e., as part of a mission statement); 2) For police departments with overlapping indicators as addressed in Aim 1, identify the degree to which mission statements include identifiable principles supportive of community policing practices; and 3) Examine the relationship between the number of community policing components in the context of a recent police department mission statement and racial disparities in use of force incidents.


Increasing Support for Comprehensive Sex Education in East Tennessee: A Deep Values Canvassing Project (Patrick R. Grzanka, Pamela Rosecrance, and Elena Schuch, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Research consistently documents the detrimental effects of abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum education on youth including higher teen pregnancy and STI rates compared to youth receiving comprehensive sexuality education. In 2012, Tennessee began prohibiting educators from teaching students anything that could promote “gateway sexual activity” or sexual contact that could precipitate non-abstinent behavior. Since public understanding of comprehensive sex education is limited and politically fraught and psychology has lagged in critically examining its impact, this study aims to reduce stigma, address misinformation, and ultimately change the harmful law governing sex education in Tennessee. Partnering with Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, this project will measure the effect to which deep values canvassing can shift voters’ attitudes and possibly inform local- and state-level advocacy for comprehensive sex education.

Assessing School Safety in the Age of Threat Assessment: A Virginia Policy Study (Jessica Smith, Hayley Cleary, and Sarah Raskin, Virginia Commonwealth University)

This mixed-method study of Virginia’s K-12 public schools will examine threat assessment team implementation and its impact on school safety practices and outcomes. Threat assessment is a psychological, behavior-based, deductive process usually performed in a team capacity. Its goal is to desist an individual from their pathway of violence and provide the school community with tools to recognize and report concerning behavior. While studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of threat assessment teams broadly, no studies have examined threat assessment teams’ implementation, functionality, nor the effect of teams on school safety as a whole. This study proposes enhancing and expanding on existing threat assessment team literature with qualitative data collection and qualitative and quantitative data analysis.

Clearing Records, Clearing Paths:  Individual, Community, and Policy Benefits of Trauma-Informed Free Expungement Clinics (Jaboa Lake and Kimberly Kahn, Portland State University; Michael Zhang, Metropolitan Public Defenders; and Leni Tupper, Metropolitan Public Defenders and Portland Community College)

The “mark” of a criminal record influences the lives of millions of people across domains, including employment, housing, access to public benefits, and access to student loans. Even the anticipation of experiencing stigma related to one’s criminal record can impair psychological health and community adjustment. Record-cleaning actions, such as expungement, are a useful tool in preventing potential discrimination and eliminate crucial barriers to employment, housing, parenting, civil engagement, and overall social and community welfare. In this study, the research team will collaborate with the office of Portland's Metropolitan Public Defender to investigate the experiences and consequences of having a criminalized record and investigate barriers related to Oregon’s current expungement laws and processes. 


Tracking Attrition in Rape Prosecution in Alachua County, FL (Alyssa N. Zucker, Moddy Coy, Mary Ann Burg, and Alexandra Weis, University of Florida)

There are many reasons for the sexual assault “attrition rate” (the proportion of reported cases that do not result in prosecution and/or conviction in the criminal justice system). Research to date has identified four key points at which case withdrawals occur: 1. The decision to report; 2. The investigative stage; 3. Discontinuance by prosecutors; and 4. The trial. Documenting where attrition occurs is crucial in taking steps to remedy it. In Alachua County, Florida, there is no central agency that aggregates data on rape. Thus, it is currently impossible to get an accurate count of reported rape cases and to measure the attrition from reporting to referral to prosecution. In this project, the research team will engage in multi-site data collection to measure attrition in the prosecution of rape crimes in Alachua County. The team will also perform interviews with both victims/survivors and key informants in law enforcement and prosecution.

Dissemination of the Status of Women in Nevada Report (Jessica Saunders, Rebecca Gill, and Barb Brents, Women’s Research Institute of Nevada, University of Nevada Las Vegas)

According to a 2018 report (Institute for Women’s Policy Research), women in Nevada face numerous measurable barriers and challenges, particularly compared to men and women residing in other states and territories. This collaborative, interdisciplinary project involves the development, implementation, and analysis of a statewide survey of Nevadans to better understand how women experience life in Nevada, with the long-term goal of positively impacting state-level policy. The research team will meet with research experts and policymakers prior to data collection to identify the main issues women living in Nevada face, and the areas individuals making decisions for women view as in need of more empirical, data-driven support. The research team will then analyze publicly available secondary data to determine trends and areas in need of deeper probing, and will then synthesize this information into a comprehensive online survey to be distributed to adult Nevada residents.

“That’s Not Abusive...Is It?” Examining the Factors Which Influence the Perceived Acceptability, Identification of, and Proclivity to Engage in Reproductive Coercion (Morgana Lizzio-Wilson, Shannon Stuart, and Barbara Masser, School of Psychology, University of Queensland)

Reproductive health and autonomy are central to women’s mental and physical wellbeing. While reproductive choice and access are commonly conceptualized in terms of legal and political barriers, there is growing evidence that women’s reproductive autonomy can be compromised in their romantic relationships via acts of reproductive coercion. Sadly, reproductive coercion is not uncommon. In Queensland, Australia, approximately 33% of clients from counselling services who experienced domestic violence also reported experiencing reproductive coercion. Using a survey research design, the research team will collect data from a random representative sample of Queensland residents to better understand how residents perceive reproductive coercion in different scenarios, how they might respond to such instances of coercion, and how their responses relate to measures of hostile and benevolent sexism.


Framing Media Appeals to Promote More Positive Attitudes Toward Immigrants and Immigration (Joshua D. Wright, Anjana Balakrishnan, and Victoria M. Esses, University of Western Ontario)

Canada’s annual intake of immigrants has risen markedly in the past few years and the Canadian government has announced that immigration levels will continue to increase to fill labour shortages, boost Canada’s economy, and contribute to its population base. Despite a relatively warm welcome for Syrian refugees across Canada in 2015-2016, since then there has been evidence of increasing public anxiety about immigration. In this project, the researchers will look at whether media campaigns are more effective when using personal first person versus expert appeals, and whether affective versus cognitive content is more effective irrespective of source or perhaps interacting with source. This empirical study involves collecting data from Canadian-born individuals across three-waves of data collection. At the conclusion of the project, the research team will give presentations to policymakers and other stakeholders at the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership and the Annual National Conference of the Pathways to Prosperity.

Exploring Alabama's Competence to Stand Trial Process (Lauren Kois, Jennifer Cox, and Stanley Brodsky, University of Alabama)

In the state of Alabama, defendants referred for competence to stand trial evaluations are currently waiting upwards of eight months for these assessments. Social science researchers and legal scholars have referred to this delay as an aspect of the “incompetent to stand trial crisis.” In Alabama, this “crisis” has culminated in the recent case Hunter v. Perdue (2016), which spotlights critical limitations of Alabama’s competence to stand trial process. This project aims to inform Alabama’s forensic mental health system as it prepares to address these issues, looking at how and why Alabamian defendants are referred for competence evaluations. The research team will do this by conducting interviews with criminal defense attorneys and judges to better understand how these legal decision-makers consider state policy and case law (i.e., Jackson v. Indiana) when the question of a defendant’s competency is raised. This interdisciplinary project has the potential to influence a forensic system at the local (city of Tuscaloosa) and state (Alabama-wide) levels.

Identity and Appearance-Based Bullying among Utah Public Secondary School Students: The Role of School Climate and Physical Education and Health Teachers (Diana J. Meter, Maya Miyairi, and Andrea M. Hawkman, Utah State University)

Bullying is a pervasive problem among youth, and victims and aggressors are at risk for adjustment problems that may last into adulthood. Bullying can be used to maintain social norms and punish behavior that deviates from norms. Slurs, jokes, and gossip in the peer group may communicate disapproval of those who are different from the majority. In this study, the research team will assess identity- and appearance-related bullying for sexual minority, ethnic minority, and overweight and underweight youth. They will also investigate associations between health education and weight-related and other bullying. Moreover, they will look at the association between positive school climates and identity- and appearance-related victimization and whether teachers need more direct guidance and education about how to prevent and stop bullying. Participants in the study will include Utah public middle school health and physical education (PE) teachers. 

Amending Florida Law to Increase Justice for Victims of Nonconsensual Porn: A Partnership Between Psychological Researchers and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (Asia Eaton and Yanet Ruvalcaba, Florida International University; Holly Jacobs, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative)

Nonconsensual pornography (NCP) is defined as “the distribution of sexually graphic images of individuals without their consent.” Before 2013, only three states criminalized NCP. Current laws vary, however those that are in place are often too narrow and offenders are rarely prosecuted. In a recent nation-wide study conducted using Facebook, the research team was able to demonstrate that NCP is in fact a dangerous public health concern.  Using the results of this and other studies, the research team will meet with legislators in the Florida state capital, Tallahassee, to suggest evidence-based amendments to the Florida sexual cyberharassment law. Their goal is to amend the state law to: strike the requirements for personally-identifying information of the victim and perpetrator intent to harm, and expand the criminalizable methods of perpetration beyond Internet websites. 

Confederate Memorabilia Conundrum:  Uniting Communities with a Legacy of Injustice (Ines Jurcevic, Sophie Trawalter, Benjamin Converse, and Eileen Chou, University of Virginia)

The debate on Confederate monuments has led to divisive and unconstructive conversations in local and state governments. Researchers can help communities have more productive conversations through the concept of framing. Research has shown that framing goals in terms of progress (“how far we’ve come”) can have a demotivating effect on persistence, whereas framing goals in terms of commitment toward equity (“how far we still have to go”) can increase persistence. Using archival data and item assessment, this mixed-methods study focuses on how the representation of Confederate monuments in different contexts (progress toward equity versus commitment toward equity) can affect efforts to redress inequities rooted in a racist past. The project has numerous potential implications for race relations, and the findings could inform how we reduce intergroup conflict.

Gap Analysis of Resources for LGBTQIA People in a Quasi-Rural City (Michèle Schlehofer and Diane Illig, Salisbury University; Janice Murphy, Wor-Wic Community College)

This project will explore existing resources and programs provided within City of Salisbury limits for people who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA) and whether existing resources and programs meet the perceived needs of LGBTQIA residents. Using social science methodology, people living, working, or attending school in the City who identify as LGBTQIA will be recruited from the community and asked to complete a survey. The research team is working collaboratively with the City of Salisbury (population 30,000) to conduct this project. Salisbury is a small urban city located in a rural geographic area. Last year, the City established a Human Rights Advisory Committee, which provides direct recommendations to the Mayor for how to best provide support for marginalized populations within City limits and which assists with complaints of discrimination. The Human Rights Advisory Committee and the Mayor are particularly interested in exploring the perceptions of and needs for resources and experiences with discrimination among LGBTQIA people in Salisbury.


LGBT+ Mental Health Services Seeking and Tennessee’s “Counseling Discrimination Law” (Patrick Grzanka, Joseph Miles, Leticia Flores, Elliot Spengler, Keri Frantell, and Elliot Devore, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

In April of 2016, the Tennessee Governor allowed HB1840/SB1556 to become law. The legislation mandates that “No counselor or therapist providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.” Research has long shown that LGBT+ individuals typically access mental health services at a rate disproportionately higher than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. This mixed-methods study includes a large, internet-based survey along with follow-up interviews from a subsample of internet respondents. Through a partnership with the Tennessee Equality Project, the research team aims to use these data to inform legal challenges to the law, and to lobby legislators to reverse the law or pass other bills that will negate it.

Can Institutional Signals Improve Opinion toward LGBTI People in Slovakia? (Matej Hruška, Andrej Findor, and Veronika Valkovicová, Comenius University)

This research project focuses on the effect of institutional signals on public opinion toward LGBTI-identified people in Slovakia. The aim of the project is to test whether messages about equal opportunity employment for LGBTI people would make respondents more strongly believe that positive attitudes toward LGBTI people are typical and desirable behavior. The researchers hope to create evidence that can be used by Slovak policy makers, NGOs, and corporations that are interested in promoting equal opportunity (anti-discrimination) policies.

Racial/ethnic disparities in Uptake of Paid Sick Leave in Chicago (Yamile Molina, Kristine Molina, and Ariel Thomas, University of Illinois at Chicago)

This project examines the psychological factors that may affect the success of local paid sick leave policies in Chicago, a city with striking racial/ethnic disparities. In April of 2016, the City of Chicago established and passed a paid sick leave ordinance. The ordinance grants earned sick time to more than 450,000 Chicago workers. On the one hand, this policy could reduce disparities, given racial/ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in occupations that did not previously receive paid sick leave. On the other hand, this policy could maintain or increase disparities due to low adoption of the enactments. In this study, the research team will use a mixed-methods approach to examine racial/ethnic disparities post-ordinance (specifically between 7/1/2017 and 12/1/2017) among City of Chicago employees who are eligible for the program.


Community Policing Reform Project (Michele Wittig, California State University, Northridge; Gino Galvez, California State University, Long Beach; Michael Giang, Mt. St. Mary’s University; Gabriel Weinberger, Pardee RAND Graduate School of Public Policy) 

This project uses oral histories to show that segments of the population experience interactions with the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) as discriminatory practices based on race, which in turn has led to distrust of the SMPD.  The project will suggest additions to, and analyses of, SMPD public data so as to 1) bring SMPD into conformity with new California laws on racial profiling and use of force, 2) promote greater transparency and accountability and 3) build trust among all segments of the community.

Understanding Policy Implementation: National Survey of Domestic Violence Intervention Program Standards (Eric Mankowski, Rachel Smith, and Kate Sackett, Portland State University).

This project applies social and community psychology principles to describe and understand how regulatory standards that govern the practices of domestic violence intervention programs are implemented across the United States. The project will document the history of program standards across the U.S., describe the composition and structure of program regulatory bodies, and identify facilitators and barriers to policy implementation, program monitoring and evaluation practices, repercussions for non-compliant programs, and funding issues that impact implementation. Findings will inform best practices for successful implementation of laws regulating intervention programs and can be used to improve the effectiveness of programs in preventing domestic violence, a social problem with significant negative impacts on individual and community health and well-being.

Shared Worlds 2015 (Achu Johnson Alexander, Clark University; Anita Fabos, Clark University; Cheryl Hamilton, International Institute of New England).

Using 100 focus groups with the aim to reach 1000 residents, the research team will examine the relationships between refugees and their U.S.-born neighbors in Worcester, Massachusetts. Specifically, the goal of this project is to look at the effect of these relationships on individual’s sense of belonging and well-being. While the central focus of the study is to better understand refugee integration in the city, marketing the conversation more broadly will increase community participation and lead to recommendations for the city to help develop policies that strengthen relationships across diverse populations (