Tag Archives: prejudice

Give the Gift of Kindness to Your Elders this Holiday Season


By Sheri R. Levy, PhD, MaryBeth Apriceno, Ashley Lytle, PhD , and Jamie L. Macdonald 


The holiday season has a way of encouraging acts of kindness toward family, friends, and even strangers. As the holiday spirit inspires us to treat others with kindness and respect, let us not overlook older adults who tend not to receive everyday acts of kindness, gratitude, and respect.

Ageism (negative attitudes, stereotypes, and behaviors toward older adults) is a significant social problem that impacts their health and well-being.

As the World Health Organization points out:

“Ageism is everywhere, yet it is the most socially ‘normalized’ of any prejudice, and is not widely challenged – like racism or sexism.”

Older adults face disrespectful, avoidant, and patronizing behavior as well as discrimination and even abuse in the workforce, health care, and housing. Challenging ageist stereotypes and treating older adults with respect and kindness can help confront the detrimental effects of ageism.


Some figures that should give us pause:

  • Nearly all depictions of older adults in publicly available Facebook groups (including more than 25,489 members) involved the use of negative ageist stereotypes5.
  • There were 20,857 age discrimination claims in employment in 2016 alone, accounting for 22.8% of all discrimination claims in employment2.
  • Ageism was the most frequently reported type of discrimination by a nationally representative sample of 6,000 American adults ages 50 and over when asked whether they experienced discrimination by doctors or hospitals11.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 6 older adults have experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year. This abuse includes neglect as well as physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse.


What you can do to reduce ageism:


1. Get the facts on aging:

2. Explore tips from the World Health Organization and the United Nations 

3. Steer clear of birthday cards that poke fun of older adults, which can lead to the internalization of negative age stereotypes, and further perpetuate myths about aging.


Celebrate older adults throughout the year:



If you would like to learn more about this topic, the following resources might be of interest to you:


1Abrams, D., Swift, H.J., and Drury, L. (2016). Old and unemployable? How age-based stereotypes affect willingness to hire job candidates. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 105-121. doi 10.1111/josi.12158

2Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (January, 2017). EEOC Releases Fiscal Year 2016 Enforcement and Litigation Data. Retrieved from: https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/1-18-17a.cfm

3Erber, J.T., & Szuchman, L.T. (2015). Great myths of aging. Wiley-Blackwell: Malden, MA

4Levy, B. R. (2009). Stereotype embodiment: A psychosocial approach to aging. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6): 332-336.

5Levy, B.R., Chung, P.H., Bedford, T., & Navrazhina, K. (2014). Facebook as a site for negative age stereotypes. The Gerontologist, 54(2), 172–176. doi:10.1093/geront/gns194

6Levy, S.R. (2016). Toward reducing ageism: PEACE (Positive Education about Aging and Contact Experiences) Model. The Gerontologist. 10 AUG 2016, doi: 10.1093/geront/gnw116

7Levy, S.R., & Macdonald, J.L. (2016). Progress on Understanding Ageism. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 5-25. doi: 10.1111/josi.12153

8Lytle, A., & Levy, S.R. (2017). Reducing Ageism: Education about Aging and Extended Contact with Older Adults. The Gerontologist. Article first published online: 19 NOV 2017, https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnx177

9Palmore, E. B., Branch, L., & Harris, D. K. (Eds. 2005). Encyclopedia of ageism. Binghamton, NY, US: Haworth Pastoral Press.

10Pillemer, K,, Burnes, D, Riffin, C., Lachs, M.S., (2016). Elder Abuse: Global Situation, Risk Factors, and Prevention Strategies, The Gerontologist, 56, 194–205. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnw004

11Rogers, S. E., Thrasher, A. D., Miao, Y., Boscardin, W. J., & Smith, A. K. (2015). Discrimination in healthcare settings is associated with disability in older adults: Health and retirement study, 2008–2012. Journal Of General Internal Medicine, 30(10), 1413-1420. doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3233-6

12United Nations (2014). Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/ageing/

13World Health Organization (September, 2015). Ageing and Health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs404/en/

14World Health Organization (June, 2017). Elder abuse: Fact sheet. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs357/en/




Sheri R. Levy is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, USA. She earned her PhD at Columbia University in New York City, USA. Levy studies factors that cause and maintain prejudice, stigmatization, and negative intergroup relations and that can be harnessed to reduce bias, marginalization, and discrimination. Her research focuses on bias based on age, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, and social class.  With Jamie L. Macdonald and Todd D. Nelson, Levy co-Edited a special issue of Journal of Social Issues on “Ageism: Health and Employment Contexts” (Levy, Macdonald, & Nelson, 2016). Levy was Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Social Issues from 2010-2013 and is a Fellow of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (Division 9 of American Psychological Association).


MaryBeth Apriceno is a graduate student at Stony Brook University. She received her BA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Her research investigates factors that affect ageist attitudes, aging anxiety, and self-stereotyping.


Jamie L. Macdonald is a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University working with Sheri R. Levy. Jamie received her BA and MA in Psychology from Stony Brook University, New York, USA. Her research investigates prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination with a focus on ageism in different contexts, like the workplace. She was a Co-Editor, with Sheri R. Levy and Todd D. Nelson, on a special issue of Journal of Social Issues on “Ageism: Health and Employment Contexts” (Levy, Macdonald, & Nelson, 2016).


Ashley Lytle is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Lytle earned her PhD at Stony Brook University, New York, USA.  Her research explores how prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping impact academic, social, and health outcomes among marginalized groups. Much of Lytle’s research has focused on better understanding prejudice toward older adults, sexual minorities, and women, with the ultimate goal of creating simple, yet effective, interventions to reduce prejudice.


Image source: iStockPhoto

Filed under: Aging, Health and Wellness Tagged: age discrimination, ageism, discrimination, holiday season, prejudice

Charlottesville and Us

Black Lives Matter Protest, Montreal

By Kumea Shorter-Gooden, PhD (Chief Diversity Officer, University of Maryland)


I’m hoping we’ve reached an inflection point. I’m hoping the tragedy at Charlottesville has created that – that such a bright light has been shined on White supremacy and racism that it compels us as a nation and as a world to take this problem seriously and to act in a transformative way.


The White supremacist rally which led to the death of one counter-protestor may seem worlds away from the lives we lead in schools, non-profits, government agencies and corporations. Charlottesville represents the most extreme, virulent and lethal form of racism—a form that is repudiated by most everyone. But racism occurs along a continuum. And the far other end is anchored by everyday acts of bias and prejudice. These everyday acts are often not intentional, not deliberate, not directly aimed at advantaging one race and disadvantaging another. They often reflect implicit rather than explicit prejudice and bias. The perpetrators of everyday bias are usually well-meaning people who see themselves as decent, fair and egalitarian, and surely not as racist. People like you and like me.


White Lives Matter Rally, Austin, Tx, Nov. 19, 2016


Everyday bias takes the form of racial micro-aggressions (for example, “He’s really smart for a Black guy”) and manifests in decision-making that can have far-reaching consequences (for example, “I can’t see a Latina woman from her background fitting in here”).


Racism does not persist because of extremists. They add fire and fuel, definitely. But racism persists because of the behaviors of everyday folks who have grown up in a world that’s rife with White supremacist beliefs. And racism persists because it’s been baked into most societal institutions and organizations – into how we admit, hire, evaluate, reward and promote; into the culture of the organization; into how we do business.


Thus, to end racism, each of us needs to do some work, starting with asking ourselves some questions: How do I collude with racism? Have I looked at my own biases and the ways that they manifest at home, in my community and at work? How am I actively addressing my biases? How does my company collude, perhaps unintentionally, with racism? Are there racial disparities in the workforce or in the experiences of employees of different racial groups? How are we actively addressing them?


Beyond these important questions, we need to do three things: First, we need to acknowledge that racism is real and alive – and not just on the streets of Charlottesville. Second, we need to find ways to confront our own racial biases—through looking inside; through listening and hearing from those who’ve been racially marginalized; through honest dialogue; and through learning about issues of race and racial oppression. Third, we need to engage our schools, companies and organizations in assessing their racial diversity and inclusivity—in acknowledging what’s working and in facing what’s not; in realizing that fighting racism is a systemic and ongoing challenge, even in the best institutions.


Let’s not let Charlottesville be for naught. We all have work to do!




Kumea Shorter-Gooden, PhD, a clinical/community psychologist and the principal of Shorter-Gooden Consulting, was the first Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Maryland, College Park. She can be reached at [email protected].


Image Source: iStockPhoto.com


Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: bias, Charlottesville, implicit bias, microaggressions, prejudice, racism, white supremacy

Are You Guilty of Positive Ageism?


By Sharron Hinchliff, PhD (Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield UK)

Every year, on October 1st,  we celebrate the International Day of Older Persons. The theme for 2016 is ‘Take a Stand against Ageism.’

What is ageism?

Ageism is the term used to describe prejudice towards and/or discrimination against an individual based on their age. It is rooted in stereotyping, where we cluster perceived traits together and make assumptions based on social categories. Its effects can be powerful and damaging.

Ageism against older people is widespread, and in Western countries we hear about:

  • people not being allowed to serve on a jury after age 70,
  • older patients not being given the same advice about a health condition as their younger counterparts,
  • the fewer opportunities to progress at work once one is past the age of 50, and
  • the older woman who is unlikely to be believed when she reports her sexual assault.

These are just a few examples.

People are treated differently because of their (older) age on a regular basis, and we are not always attuned to it. Ageism is taken for granted so much so that we may not even notice it when it is happening. It is something that can affect us all and is more tolerated than racism and sexism, with many arguing that it is ‘socially-condoned’ (North & Fiske, 2012).

Ageism can affect young people, but it is mainly thought about in relation to old people. And because it is a form of discrimination and prejudice, it can be negative or positive. However, we rarely hear about the latter and as a consequence few recognize that ageism has this alternative side.

What is positive ageism or ‘sageism’?

You may have heard the saying ‘the older the wiser’? It connects with stereotypes of older people as having gained wisdom through their longevity and life experiences (Palmore, 1999), and has been described as ‘sageism’ (Minichiello, Browne & Kendig, 2000: 268):

“With sageism, people interact with older people as venerated elders who are respected for their knowledge and experience. There is potential for negative effects, however, if the elder cannot meet such expectations.”  

They go on to describe how, in their study, older participants felt that they were being sought out for their wisdom and listened to more. However, older people did not always enjoy this ‘unexpected respect’ as it created a pressure when they could not live up to these expectations but did not want to let the younger people down.

Indeed, Jill Chonody (2016) argues that positive stereotypes of older people

‘may appear to be emphatic, but they are actually paternalistic in nature and support ageist behaviours, which can be detrimental to older adults’ (p.208).

She uses the example of asking older people for advice (a positive ageism item on the Relating to Older People scale):

“There is nothing about age per se that makes individuals better conversationalists or even better at giving good advice. Furthermore, if we replaced old peoplewith another social categorization, such as gay men, these statements would be somewhat laughable (re: I enjoy conversations with gay men because they are gay).” (Chonody & Teater 2016: 12)

Some academics note the link between positive ageing and positive ageism. Positive ageing grew out of a dissatisfaction with ageing being portrayed negatively, and thus it challenges the ageing-as-decline narrative. But, it has an unexpected consequence as it can become a form of ageism in itself. Sally Chivers (2003) applies this argument to older women’s bodies and physical appearance, telling us that positive ageism occurs through the process of promoting an impossible youthfulness and a denial of bodily decline. This is damaging because, as above, it forms an expectation that older women cannot live up to.

The same is happening with regard to older people and sexual activity. In my own work, I have seen a shift over the past few years from older people being viewed as asexual to sexually agentic. By challenging the asexual stereotype, an unintended effect was the creation of a new stereotype where all older people are expected to be sexually active if they are to age well. A failure to maintain sexual agency/autonomy is perceived as submitting to old age.

So, while positive ageism can be positive because it celebrates rather than denigrates older age, it can be detrimental too. In whatever form ageism takes, positive or negative, there is a risk that it does more to reinforce inequality than address it. 



Chivers, S. (2003). From old women to older women: Contemporary culture and women’s narratives. USA: Ohio State University Press.

Chonody, J.M. (2016). Positive and negative ageism: The role of benevolent and hostile sexism. Journal of Women and Social Work, 31(2), 207-218.

Chonody, J. M., & Teater, B. (2016). Why do I dread looking old?: A test of social identity theory, terror management theory, and the double standard of aging. Journal of Women and Aging, 28(2), 112-126.

Minichiello, V., Browne, J., & Kendig, H. (2000). Perceptions and consequences of ageism: Views of older people. Ageing and Society, 20(03), 253-278.

North, M. S., & Fiske, S. T. (2012). An inconvenienced youth? Ageism and its potential intergenerational roots. Psychological Bulletin, 138(5), 982.

Palmore, E. (1999). Ageism: Negative and positive. New York: Springer.



Sharron Hinchliff, PhD, is Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield UK. She has a BMedSci (Hons) and a PhD in psychology. Her research spans the areas of ageing, gender and sexual/reproductive health, as well as the psychology of health and health care. Sharron is co-editing the forthcoming book ‘Addressing the sexual rights of older people: Theory, policy and practice’ which is due for publication in 2017. For further details about Sharron’s work, see sharronhinchliff.com.

Image source: Flickr user Nick Moralee via Creative Commons

Filed under: Aging Tagged: ageism, discrimination, positive ageism, prejudice, sageism, stereotypes, stereotyping, stress

We Need to Talk About How Race-Related Trauma Hurts Black and Brown Youth in Schools

School girl victim of violence

By Dawn Henderson, PhD (Associate Professor, North Carolina A&T State University) and Alexis Lunford (Research Assistant)

Witnessing or experiencing race-related trauma damages the psychological wellbeing of minority youth. African American, American Indian, and Latino youth not only encounter race-related trauma in their neighborhoods but also in school. Schools should be a safe space for all children, but some disturbing data prove otherwise.

  • The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reported African Americans and American Indians between 20 and 34 will more likely experience death from police than any other ethnic group. Just within the past two years, African American, American Indian, and Latino youth have witnessed, via social media or directly, police officers kill fathers— for example, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Allen Locke, and, more recently, Philando Castile.
  • Teachers, school personnel, and resource officers often enact violence against children of color. Hyman and Perone (1998) wrote about this understudied aspect of school violence more than fifteen years ago and while the CDC does not provide any indicator, a disturbing 2015 video captured a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, SC violently wrestling an African American female to the ground while other students numbly watched.

Minority youth not only witness or experience physical violence in school, they also deal with constant alienation, discrimination, and microaggressions. In our work with suspended youth, we have uncovered these encounters and are capturing them more intentionally through interviews with minority students.

  • Alienation manifests in our interviews with students like Natalie[1], a Latina, who mentioned, “I felt like I did not belong, like I wasn’t worth anything and didn’t mean anything.”
  • Discrimination—Teachers and school personnel discriminate against minority youth in discretionary discipline practices and recommendations for advanced courses. Racial discrimination can increase anxiety and depressive symptoms among youth (Chavous et al., 2008; Cogburn, Chavous, & Griffin, 2011).
  • Microaggressions (intentional or unintentional language and behavior that is derogatory or negative) are evident for students like Samantha, an African American female:

I was the only black child, well the only black female in the computer engineering science class. And the teacher wouldn’t help me, he kind of pushed me [to] the side and he’s always like you can figure it out. But then Billy needed help so he just raised his hand and the teacher would assist him. But when I raised my hand he would overlook [me].

When youth like Natalie and Samantha begin to internalize the belief “I wasn’t worth anything and I didn’t mean anything”, it is obviously a detriment to their mental health. While Natalie and Samantha survived and are in college now, the scars from feeling alienated, encountering discrimination, and emotional abuse in public school remain etched onto their psyche.

Unfortunately, a number of African American, American Indian, and Latino youth may not be able to survive the emotional assault; they will either lash out in aggressive or self-destructive ways or leave school completely. The National Center for Education Statistics reports African American and Latino youth between ages 16 through 24 have the highest high school dropout rates.


How do we counter race-related trauma and build resilient youth and schools?

In order to decrease race-related trauma among children of color we will need to target the context in which they spend much of their time—schools. We offer a three-pronged approach to how schools can provide a context for intervention.


  1. Adopt Stress Reduction Practices in Schools 


Stevenson (2008) wrote, “student-teacher relationships are stressful interactions that have the potential of being perceived as threats or challenges by both parties and that this primary appraisal is followed by a secondary appraisal of controllability or self-efficacy” (p. 356).

Adopting stress reduction practices, such as mindfulness, in schools to use with youth, teachers, and other school personnel can reduce tension and mitigate conflict. The work of the Holistic Life Foundation shows that mindfulness reduces stress-related behaviors by using meditative practices to improve attention, reduce stress, and increase self-regulation among adults and children. If we can identify ways to adopt stress reduction practices in school, we can reduce racial tensions.


  1. Support Advocacy through Youth –Adult Partnerships

Advocacy through youth-adult partnerships centers on improving community and civic engagement among youth. These partnerships can link youth to social support and provide opportunities for them to address racism and participate in decision-making in school. These types of activities can improve school engagement and build a number of skills for youth, such as social competence and self-efficacy (Zeldin, Christens, & Powers, 2013). In addition, training teachers and other supportive adults to model mindfulness in youth-adult partnerships only boosts the ways that youth manage stress and build resilience.


  1. Facilitate Truth and Reconciliation Groups

Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) are a restorative justice process used in global human rights violations. Modeling TRCs into smaller groups in schools can potentially bring together multiple stakeholders such as youth, teachers, parents and other community members to address racial disparities in schools and develop solutions. These groups may not only foster partnerships between youth and adults, they may also increase opportunities for parents and other community members to inform school practices. Androff (2012) indicates TRCs can target problems states fail to address because they rely on individuals impacted by the issue and foster collective action—such as redesigning discipline practices.

Reducing race-related trauma in public schools will require us to understand how it occurs and then identify ways to reduce stress, racial anxiety, and support the abilities of minority youth, their parents, and communities to drive decision-making in schools. This is a lofty goal but it can be accomplished if we work together to support youth of color and show them that they matter.



Androff, D. K. (2010). Truth and reconciliation commissions (TRCs): An international human rights intervention and its connection to social work. British Journal of Social Work, 40, 1960–1977. doi: 10.1093./bjsw//bcp139

Chavous, T. M., Rivas-Drake, D., Smalls, C., Griffin, T., & Cogburn, C. (2008). Gender matters, too: The influences of school racial discrimination and racial identity on academic engagement outcomes among African American adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 44, 637–654. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.3.637

Cogburn, C. D., Chavous, T. M., & Griffin, T. M. (2011). School-based racial and gender discrimination among African American adolescents: Exploring gender variation in frequency and implications for adjustment. Race Social Problems, 3, 25–37.

Hyman, I. A., & Perone, D. C. (1998). The other side of school violence: Educator policies and practices that may contribute to student misbehavior. Journal of School Psychology, 36(1), 7-27.

Lanier, C., & Huff-Corzine, L. (2006). American Indian homicide A county-level analysis utilizing social disorganization theory. Homicide Studies, 10, 181–194.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). The condition of education 2015 (NCES 2015-144),Retrieved from the U. S. Department of Education website: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=16

Stevenson, H. C. (2008). Fluttering around the racial tension of trust: Proximal approaches to suspended Black student-teacher relationships. School Psychology Review, 37, 354–359.

Zeldin, S., Christens, B. D., & Powers, J. L. (2013). The psychology and practice of youth-adult partnership: Bridging generations for youth development and community change. American Journal of Community Psychology, 51, 385–397. doi: 10.1007/s10464-012-9558-y



Dawn X. Henderson, PhD, is a Community Psychologist and member of Division 27 (Society for Community Research and Action) of the American Psychological Association and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at North Carolina A&T State University. Her research includes how trauma occurs in the public school system and interventions targeting economically disadvantaged ethnic minority youth. Alexis Lunsford is a Research Assistant and graduate of Winston-Salem State University. Any comments or feedback can be sent to [email protected].

[1] All names listed are pseudonyms assigned to protect the identity of the students.

Image source: iStockphoto.com

Filed under: Children and Youth, Culture, Ethnicity and Race Tagged: African American youth, American Indian youth, children's mental health, discrimination, Education, Hispanic youth, Latino youth, microaggressions, mindfulness, prejudice, race-related trauma, racism, resilience, school dropouts, stress, stress reduction, trauma

Why Evidence-Based Community Policing Needs to be the Norm, Not an Exception

Police tape saying "police line do not cross"

By Susan H. McDaniel, PhD

Longstanding tensions between police and communities of color have reached a boiling point in the United States. The horrifying cellphone videos of two shooting deaths of African-American men by police officers this month, and the subsequent killing of five police officers by an African-American man in Dallas and three police in Baton Rouge, have reinforced a deadly cycle of fear, mistrust and violence. If we are to heal as nation, we must first acknowledge and move beyond entrenched societal stereotypes that reduce people of color, particularly black men, to suspected criminals who should be feared.

Equally important, communities must recognize the challenges facing police and the stress and dangers they encounter daily.

Social science research has shown that blacks are perceived as more violent and are more likely to be associated with objects such as guns. These associations are often so automatic that they may occur unconsciously, a phenomenon researchers have termed implicit bias.

In late June, the Department of Justice announced that it will train all its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to recognize and address implicit bias as part of its regular training curriculum. The new training, based on best practices in law enforcement, is to begin “in the next few weeks,” according to the announcement — which is none too soon. While this training already occurs in some police departments, it needs to spread to police departments everywhere.

A key factor shaping whether people obey the law is trust in legal authorities, according to research by psychologists. A number of studies have shown that the most important factors related to public trust of the police are whether people believe that the police are exercising their authority fairly. This means that police are not making decisions about whom to stop based upon race or ethnicity; that they are willing to listen when they stop people; that they apply the law consistently and without prejudice; and that they take time to explain the reasons for their actions. Most important, all police need to treat people in the community with respect and courtesy. Increasing trust helps the police as well, as distrust makes controlling crime more difficult by lowering the willingness of community members to help the police solve crimes or identify criminals.

Going forward, psychological research indicates that effective strategies to prevent events such as those that occurred in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and elsewhere include collaborative police-community partnerships; procedurally fair applications of the law; community outreach and education; recruitment strategies to ensure that the police department reflects the demographics of the community; and training to reduce police and community stereotyping.

These practices are embodied in community-oriented policing. This approach stresses law enforcement that embraces community outreach and emphasizes police and community partnerships and dialogue.

Beginning with selection and training for officers, and continuing through in-service, roll-call, and supervisor and management training, it is important to incorporate behavioral health concepts and information about coping methods, responding to stress, and support (e.g., family and friends) and resiliency within the police community. It is useful to have the psychologists who provide services to police departments involved in the trainings, so that they are familiar to the employees and knowledgeable about the workings of the agency. The more police are educated about psychology and behavioral issues, the more they are prepared to deal with these difficult encounters in a productive way.

One success story comes from the late Lorraine Greene, PhD, a police psychologist who served as the first manager of the Nashville police department’s behavioral health services division. With her involvement and the support of the department leaders, a variety of initiatives were launched to improve police-community relations. These included surveying community members and holding focus groups of police officers, local residents and researchers. The data collected were then used to create training for police and citizens, which led to greater mutual understanding. More recently, social psychologist Phillip A. Goff, PhD, and his colleagues at the Center for Policing Equity have worked to develop collaborative relationships with law enforcement, communities and political stakeholders, to identify ways to strengthen relationships between local law enforcement departments and the communities they serve.

Increasing the psychological training and emotional supports available to police officers,   improving morale and reducing burnout can lead to better policing and potentially reduce violent police-community encounters. As a society, we have the behavioral tools to help heal police-community relations. We now need to ensure that we apply them – fast.


Dr. McDaniel is president of the American Psychological Association.

Filed under: Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: Baton Rouge, community policing, Dallas, evidence-based, Falcon Heights, Louisiana, Minnesota, police bias, police shootings, policing, prejudice, racial discrimination, racial profiling, research

Why HIV Providers Should Care About the Orlando Shooting


By David J. Martin, PhD, ABPP (Senior Director, APA Office on AIDS)

In the aftermath of the mass shooting of LGBT people in an Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016, there was a great deal of discussion concerning the shooter’s motives. Was it a hate crime? An act of terrorism? Members and allies of the LGBT community have come together to express their support for the victims and to denounce violence against LGBT people.

Although the solid links between the LGBT community and the HIV prevention and treatment communities resulted in a strong show of solidarity, there is another reason HIV care providers and educators should be concerned about the shooting and its aftermath: It is an instance of the stigma that can increase the risk of HIV transmission and reduce the ability of people with HIV to fight their disease.

Although most LGBT community members demonstrate resilience in the face of these psychosocial factors, they do take a toll. These factors have been associated with poor mental health (increased depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicide ideation/attempt), diminished self-esteem, and drug and alcohol use/misuse.  

Just as important, they can increase the risk of HIV transmission in the LGBT community. And for those living with HIV, they may diminish the body’s ability to fight HIV beyond the damage done by the virus itself:

  • In an early study, Steve Cole and his colleagues reported that gay men with HIV who concealed their sexual orientation demonstrated faster disease progression than gay men with HIV who did not conceal their sexuality.
  • In a later study, Dr. Cole and his colleagues reported that gay men with high levels of autonomic nervous system activity (ANS: a measure of stress) experienced impaired response to anti-HIV medication—their viral loads prior to starting anti-HIV medication did not drop nearly as much as those with low ANS levels.
  • In 2003, Ron Stall and his colleagues reported on the impact of psychosocial health problems (polydrug use, depression, childhood sexual abuse) on high-risk sexual behavior among gay men; they found that the more of these health problems gay men had, the higher their sexual risk. Similarly, in 2007, Brian Mustanski and his colleagues demonstrated the role of psychosocial health problems (binge drinking, street drug use, regular marijuana use, psychological distress, sexual assault, partner violence) in increasing high-risk sex, and in 2012, Ann O’Leary and her colleagues also reported similar findings. They suggested that the overall constellation of findings suggests that “cumulative adverse psychosocial health conditions of any sort seem to exert their negative effects on HIV risk and infection.” Dr. O’Leary and her colleagues also found that optimism and education lessened (but did not eliminate) these effects.

The Orlando mass shooting is another manifestation of the multiple psychosocial insults that still confront the LGBT community. The recent findings cited here (and others) suggest that, in addition to their impact on the mental health of the LGBT community, these insults contribute to increased risk for HIV and diminished physical health among people with HIV.  For these reasons, HIV providers need to continue partnering with their LGBT allies in confronting anti-LGBT bias and discrimination.

You can visit the American Psychological Association’s Office on AIDS website for information on psychology and HIV.  While there, you can also read the Resolution Opposing HIV Criminalization recently passed by the APA Council of Representatives. The Psychology and AIDS Exchange is a topical newsletter on emerging HIV-related issues.

Image source: Flickr user Ashley Van Haeften via Creative Commons

Filed under: AIDS, LGBT Issues Tagged: aids, discrimination, HIV, hiv prevention, HIV risk, HIV/AIDS research, homophobia, LGBT, Orlando shootings, prejudice, stigma

100+ Resources for the Aftermath of the Orlando Mass Shooting Tragedy


By Skyler Jackson, MS (Doctoral Student in Counseling Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park)

On June 12, 2016 rapid gunfire tore through Orlando’s Pulse gay nightclub in an act of violence that jarred the nation—and garnered global attention.

Many were shaken to the core by what we now understand to be the largest mass shooting by a single shooter—and the deadliest incident of violence targeting LGBTQ people—in U.S. history. The numbers alone are staggering: At the time of this blog post, 49 deaths have been confirmed and an additional 53 people were injured during the gunman’s attack at the gay club’s popular Latin night. The facts that have come to light since the event have added chilling detail to our understanding of this tragic event.

When single events of this magnitude occur, we react in a multitude of ways. Many found themselves engulfed in difficult feelings (e.g., panic, anger, grief, fear), and a subsection of these individuals are still emotionally overwhelmed. Others immediately gravitated towards information gathering, fervently consuming the facts of this event. Indeed, in the aftermath of the seemingly incomprehensible, we often find ourselves on a burning quest for clarity and understanding. Another group still was immediately primed for action—ready to reform existing legislation, eager to combat homophobia and toxic masculinity, determined to work to reduce violence and improve human relations. Some simply felt numb, lost, and paralyzed.

Behind these responses are unspoken questions: How could this happen? What can I do? How can I cope? Where do we go from here? No one perspective and no single resource can address each of these inquiries. Fortunately, in the time since the attack, a number of online resources, articles, and videos—some old, and many new—have circulated in relation to the event and its aftermath.

Below is a compilation of over 100 online resources related to the Orlando, FL tragedy. The list is categorized by theme or intended audience, and includes online articles, lesson plans, videos, mental health resources, open letters, tips for clinicians, petitions, hotlines, and more.

The online resources and articles included were selected with great leniency. With the exception of pieces that spread misinformation or prejudice, few articles were intentionally excluded from this curated list. Thus, the 100+ items included vary greatly in quality, tone, and perspective. That said, the list is not comprehensive. It may, however, serve as an organized starting point in our quest for self-reflection, community healing, and ultimately, social change in the aftermath of this devastating event.


  1. How to Cope after a Mass Shooting (English & Español)
  2. Responding to the Tragedy in Orlando: Helpful Responses for LGBTQ People and Allies
  3. 10 Ways to Support Yourself and the LGBTQ Community in Wake of the Orlando Shooting
  4. Recovering Emotionally from Disaster
  5. Incidents on Mass Violence – SAMHSA
  6. 11 Small Ways to Feel Less Helpless this Week, from a Trained Therapist
  7. The Behavioral Health Response to Mass Violence (Webinar)
  8. Disaster and Trauma Effects on Parents (PDF)
  9. In the Wake of the Orlando Massacre: 7 Ways I Take Care of Myself During Depressive Episodes
  10. 13 Soothing Books to Read When Everything Hurts (Intersectional Focus)
  11. Tips to Support Individual and Community Healing
  12. 4 Self-Care Tips After the Pulse Tragedy


  1. Nationwide Vigils, Victim Fund Page, and More (English & Español)
  2. Support Victims of the Pulse Shooting
  3. APA Disaster Resource Network
  4. How to Help Orlando Shooting Victims
  5. Practical Things Psychology Graduate Students Can Do
  6. Donate to the Orlando Youth Alliance (GLBTQ youth serving non-profit)
  7. Love Is Love – LGBTQ KidLit Book Donation Drive for the Orlando Youth Alliance
  8. Muslims United for Victims of the Pulse Shooting
  9. Preventing Gun Violence in 5 Steps
  10. Tell Congress: Support Common Sense Measures to Reduce Gun Violence (APA Action Alert) 


  1. 8 Ways Allies Can Show Up For the Queer Community After Orlando
  2. How to Talk to a Queer Person Who is Afraid of Dying
  3. An Open Letter to Straight People on the Pulse Massacre
  4. Rejecting Islamophobia as a Queer Latina in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting
  5. 7 Things Straight People Aren’t Understanding about Orlando
  6. Can We Stop Erasing Latinos from the Orlando Massacre Narrative?
  7. Learning How to be a Straight Ally after the Orlando Tragedy
  8. Mourning on Ramadan: Breaking My Fast With Queer Muslims After the Orlando Shooting
  9. Being an Ally in the Wake of Orlando
  10. Dalai Lama Warns Against Scapegoating Muslims After Orlando Shooting
  11. To My Heterosexual Friends: This Is Why Orlando Hurts
  12. Gay Rabbi: We Can All Mourn Orlando, But This Was Terrorism Against Gay People
  13. 26 Things Queer People Actually Want to Hear after Orlando
  14. In Whitewashing the Pulse Shooting, We Dehumanize the Victims


  1. Disaster and Trauma Responses of Children (PDF)
  2. Helping Your Child Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting
  3. The #Orlando Syllabus (College-level curriculum)
  4. Addressing the Orlando Shooting at Your School
  5. Creating Safe and Welcoming Schools for All Children & Families
  6. 7 Ways to Talk to Children and Youth about the Shootings in Orlando
  7. Teaching and Learning Resources – The Attack in Orlando: The Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History
  8. 10 Suggestions when Teaching about Controversial or Difficult Issues
  9. How to Talk to Children about Difficult News and Tragedies
  10. GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit: Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students
  11. Safe Learning Environments For LGBTQ Students In A Post-Orlando America
  12. The Orlando Shootings: Parents’ Guide to Talking to Children (PDF)
  13. Classroom Lesson – Orlando Shooting: A Listening Circle
  14. Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate
  15. How Should Parents Talk to LGBTQ Youth About Orlando?
  16. How Teachers and Parents Can Talk to Kids about the Orlando Shootings


  1. Effects of Traumatic Stress after Mass Violence, Terror, or Disaster
  2. Vicarious Trauma (PDF)
  3. Disaster and Trauma Responses of Children (PDF)
  4. LGBTQ Youth Related Resources on Trauma and Coping
  5. Creating Welcoming & Inclusive Environments for Traumatized LGBTQ Youth (Video)
  6. Mental Health Reactions after Disaster: A Fact Sheet for Providers (PDF)
  7. LGBT Veteran Care Post-Orlando (PDF)
  8. Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals (PDF)


  1. America’s Gun Problem Explained in 18 Charts
  2. Gun Violence Prevention
  3. Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy – APA Panel of Experts Report
  4. Gun Violence and the Psychological Response to Mass Violence (PDF)


  1. Latinx LGBTQ Community & Its Stories of Survival Should Be at Center of Orlando Response
  2. American Ugliness: Queer and Trans People of Color Say “Not In Our Names”
  3. White Queers, This Is a Betrayal
  4. The Pulse Nightclub Shooting Robbed the Queer Latinx Community of a Sanctuary
  5. Queer Latinx: Tired of Being Targets
  6. It’s Not Safe to be a Queer Person of Color in America
  7. Responses – Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement (Video)
  8. It’s OK to Let Vulnerability Sink In
  9. Do Not Militarize Our Mourning: Orlando and the Ongoing Tragedy Against LGBTSTGNC POC
  10. Statement from the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
  11. What Queer Latinos are Saying about the Orlando Shooting
  12. From Charleston to Orlando: Reflections on Massacre in a Time of Backlash
  13. Queer, Muslim and Unwelcome at the “New Stonewall”
  14. Whitewashing the Orlando Shooting Victims Only Makes LGBTQ People of Color More Vulnerable to Violence
  15. Here is What LGBT Muslims Want You to Know after the Orlando Shooting
  16. To My Fellow QTPOC Mourning the Orlando Pulse Shooting: We Need to Love Each Other
  17. Only When I’m Dancing Can I Feel This Free
  18. In Honor of Our Dead: Latinx, Queer, Trans, Muslim, Black – We Will Be Free | En Honor a Nuestros Muertos: Latinx, Queer, Trans, Musulmanes, Negros – Seremos Libres
  19. “They Are Our Dead”: LGBTQ Latinos Speak Out After Orlando
  20. LGBT People of Color Refuse to be Erased after Orlando: ‘We Have to Elbow In’
  21. In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club
  22. Queer Muslims Confront Intersectional Challenges (Video)
  23. LGBT Clubs Let Us Embrace Queer Latinidad, Let’s Affirm This
  24. How are Latinx and LGBT Leaders Mobilizing in the Wake of Orlando Shootings
  25. Among the Orlando Shooting Victims, Trans Latino Advocates Hope Their Stories are Told
  26. The Time Two White Gay Men Heckled a Latina at a Pulse Vigil
  27. Stuck in the Media Spotlight, LGBT Muslims Often Feel Exploited
  28. #SomosOrlando: Latinx LGBTQ+ being Ignored while Simultaneously Killed
  29. Orlando’s Gay Latino Community Describes Pulse Nightclub in Their Own Words
  30. Joint Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting – National Latina/o Psychological Association & Orgullo (PDF)
  31. Orgullo Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting (PDF)
  32. LGBT People of Color Alienated by San Francisco Pride’s Plan for More Police
  33. Meet the Gay Muslims Coming Out After the Orlando Massacre
  34. Recognizing the Intersection of Identities in Orlando Mass Shooting
  35. What Queer Muslims are Saying about the Orlando Shooting
  36. Orlando’s Intersections: May Our Differences Stretch Us to Revolutionary Love
  37. LGBTQ Latinxs and Allies Share Heartfelt Messages in Honor of Orlando Shooting Victims


  • DeQH – Desi LGBTQ Helpline for South Asians (Thursdays & Sundays, 8-10pm EST): 908-367-3374
  • GLBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564
  • GLBT National Youth Talkline (up to age 25): 800-246-7743
  • LGBTQ Violence Response Hotline (24 hours everyday): 202-888-7222
  • Muslim Youth Hotline (Monday-Friday, 6-9pm): 1-866-Naseeha
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (24 hours everyday; English & Spanish): 212-714-1141
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – English (24 hours everyday): 800-273-8255
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Spanish (24 hours everyday): 888-628-9454
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline (Interpretation service for over 150 languages): 800-985-5990
  • SAMSHA Disaster Distress Helpline (Hard of hearing and deaf community): 800-846-8517
  • SAMHSA Disaster Distress Text Support (English & Spanish): Text TalkWithUs or Hablanos to 66746
  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860 (USA); 877-330-6366 (Canada)
  • Trevor Lifeline (National 24-hour suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth): 866-488-7386



Skyler Jackson, MS, is a diversity consultant and psychologist in training, currently completing his doctoral studies in Counseling Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a scholar, Skyler’s research helps illuminate ways in which contemporary forms of social stigma (e.g., racism, sexism, homophobia) not only have economic, educational, moral, and political implications, but are also important matters of public health. As a diversity consultant, Skyler’s training and facilitation helps to spark personal and community transformation by empowering people to dialogue about issues of identity and difference. He currently resides in Washington DC.

Contact: [email protected]

Blog Administrator Note:

Posts by guest authors reflect the views and perspectives of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the American Psychological Association.




Filed under: LGBT Issues, Violence Tagged: discrimination, gun violence, hate crime, homophobia, LGBT, Orlando shootings, prejudice, transphobia

Firearm Violence Prevention is a Human Rights Issue

Disarm HateBy Susan H. McDaniel, PhD (APA President) and Cynthia D. Belar, PhD (APA Interim CEO)

June 28 is the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which launched lesbian and gay rights as a mass movement and is commemorated in the LGBT Pride celebrations. We take this occasion to reaffirm the American Psychological Association’s commitment to removing the social stigma that sexual and gender minorities still experience both here in the U.S. and around the world. We’ve come a long way since the days when mainstream psychology contributed to the oppression of sexual and gender minorities as mentally ill. However, prejudice and discrimination still exist today even within psychology. There are individuals and organizations in the U.S. and many other places promoting the unscientific idea that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices that can or should be changed.

This month’s shootings in Orlando were horrific, but sadly they weren’t a radical aberration. Violence directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people remains widespread and frequent. A recent New York Times analysis of FBI hate crimes data indicated that such crimes against sexual minorities were the highest per capita of any group tracked. Internationally, violence against sexual and gender minorities, can be even more brutal. In South Africa where human rights of LGBT people are enshrined in the constitution, “corrective rape” of lesbians still occurs. In the Middle East, ISIS has thrown gay men from rooftops. The U.N. has called for its members to act urgently to end such violence and discrimination.

Violence and discrimination are not based solely on one set of prejudices; members of the LGBT community face prejudice for multiple reasons. As we have learned more information about the victims of the shootings in Orlando, it has become clear that most were people of color and predominantly Latino. We also know that transgender women of color are the majority of LGBT hate crime homicides. People of color and the LGBT community continue to experience discrimination, and their risk of victimization is compounded when their identities intersect across multiple stigmatized groups.

When governments, including the U.S., codify discrimination, they help to promote and maintain stigma and prejudice. Hundreds of laws targeted at LGBT people have been introduced in our state legislatures in the past three years and some have passed. Draconian new laws targeting LGBT people and their allies were adopted in Uganda and Nigeria in recent years. In much of the Middle East and South Asia, legal penalties for homosexuality range from 14 years’ imprisonment to death. Russia has even criminalized speech that supports the rights of sexual or gender minorities.

Action is needed to end all discrimination and violence, public and private. Legal protections matter. Research has found that LGBT people living in places with protective and supportive laws are healthier than those in places with fewer legal protections. APA is proud to join with civil and human rights groups to promote U.S. policies that prohibit unfair discrimination of all kinds, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The LGBT movement has had remarkable successes – such as marriage equality – due to its commitment and creativity. It is important for us all to keep that in mind and to call upon the strengths that the LGBT community and its allies have built as we move forward.

The shootings in Orlando, as the work of a lone gunman, will not ultimately harm the movement for LGBT rights, but they do make painfully clear how firearm violence is a human rights issue. Firearm violence affects us all – and especially those targeted by hate. Out of this tragic event an opportunity can be seen for all groups to come together—including LGBT people, people of color, and their allies, along with violence prevention advocates—to achieve legislative and cultural change to prevent any further needless deaths and injuries due to gun violence.

Filed under: Human Rights and Social Justice, LGBT Issues, Violence Tagged: discrimination, firearm violence, gun violence, gun violence prevention, hate, hate crime, human rights, LGBT, LGBT Pride Month, LGBT rights, Orlando shootings, prejudice, violence prevention

Islamophobia in the U.S.: A Threat to Justice Everywhere


By Muninder Kaur Ahluwalia, PhD (Montclair State University) and Saba Rasheed Ali, PhD (University of Iowa)

A Muslim mom, Melissa Chance Yassini, recently wrote on her Facebook page:

Sad day in America when I have to comfort my 8 year old child who heard that someone with yellow hair named Trump wanted to kick all Muslims out of America. She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes. She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.

This scenario illustrates how Islamophobia in the U.S. is making many American Muslims feel unsafe in the country they call home. Islamophobia can be defined as an unfounded dislike, distrust, fear, prejudice, or hatred against Muslims or Islam.

Islamophobia really began during the European enlightenment in early 19th century with the rise of Orientalism. On the Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Stereotypes website , Dr. Edward W. Said characterizes Orientalism in part as the Western depiction of Arab cultures as inferior or even dangerous. This philosophy is believed to be the foundation for modern day Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is exacerbated whenever the U.S. has conflict with Middle Eastern countries or a terrorist attack occurs on Western soil.  Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., Islamophobia has undergone a period of dramatic spikes and declines. Immediately after 9/11 anti-Muslim sentiment rose sharply and then declined until the controversy over the Ground Zero faith center saw an increase in anti-Muslim hostility.

The anti-Muslim rhetoric of the current presidential election coupled with recent terrorist attacks by the so called Islamic State (or ISIS) has also produced another spike in backlash against Muslims according to an article in the New York Times. They reported that the rate of hate crimes directed at Muslims in the U.S. tripled after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino according to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

The result of Islamophobia is discrimination and oppression against not only Muslims, but anyone who “appears” or “sounds” Muslim, including Sikhs and non-Muslim Arabs, and Hindus. Throughout U.S. history, we have falsely assumed that individuals who are visible racial and ethnic minorities are aligned with their country of origin or ancestry to the detriment of their loyalty to the United States. Our history provides numerous examples of this type of systemic oppression, where individuals with minority or marginalized identities were enslaved, denied citizenship, denied the right to vote, had their children taken forcibly from their families, and imprisoned.

In the 1940s during WWII, Japanese Americans living in California were branded as a “foreign enemy,” simultaneously stripped of their homes, property, and possessions and placed into internment camps. This violation of human rights occurred despite the fact that most Americans of Japanese descent expressed their strong allegiance to the U.S. and had never lived in Japan. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act was signed into law, acknowledging that the treatment of Japanese Americans was based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”

However, comments and proposals by a number of 2016 presidential candidates  evoke sentiments reminiscent of the 1940s, with political leaders using fear and anger to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment. Presidential candidates have invoked some of the same hysteria regarding Muslims (and Sikhs and Arabs) in the U.S. used for Japanese Americans during WWII. For example, politicians have suggested registering Muslims, banning Muslims from entry into the country, and constant police surveillance of Muslims as options.

Islamophobia can have grave legal, physical health and mental health effects for individuals in the Muslim, Sikh and Arab communities. These consequences parallel those that are faced by individuals with other marginalized and targeted identities, as referenced in APA’s report on discrimination and diversity. Islamophobia is deeply institutionalized in the U.S.

Law enforcement routinely conducts surveillance on Muslim communities, and the TSA often unfairly conducts additional screenings for Sikh boys and men who wear patkas and turbans, asking them to remove their religious head covering and testing their hands for explosives. Increased surveillance of Muslim communities (or those perceived to be Muslim) has been associated with heightened anxiety and stress (see “Under Surveillance and Overwrought: American Muslims’ Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Government Surveillance”).

In addition, there are numerous hate crimes linked to Islamophobia, including the 2012 mass shooting by a white supremacist gunman who targeted and killed Sikhs in their Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). The gunman misidentified the Sikhs as Muslims because of mass media’s stereotyping of Muslims as people who wear turbans.

When individuals are targeted because of their identity, their persistent experiences with hate crimes and institutionalized oppression can result in anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. In addition, these individuals may internalize the oppression, taking in the negative, faulty messages about them and their communities as truth.

This internalized oppression can directly impact individuals’ feeling that they need to hide or discard their religious identifiers (e.g., the hijab or headscarf for Muslim women, the turban for Sikh men) or cease attendance at their places of worship. The indirect impact of Islamophobia on all minority and marginalized communities is that they feel their position in this country and thereby their rights are precarious. In addition, the impact on larger society is that justice becomes irrelevant.

In the Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects us all indirectly.”

Islamophobia is a threat to justice and threatens the shared destiny of humankind.

Psychologists, in their roles as mental health practitioners, researchers, educators, trainers, and consultants, have a responsibility to help combat Islamophobia within themselves and in others. Psychological science tells us that it can be done.

The first steps include a greater awareness of self, and an understanding of how privilege and power play out to continue oppression of Muslims, Sikhs and Arabs. From there, education and increased interaction amongst people from different faith and ethnic backgrounds can promote tolerance and respect. This is often referred to in psychology as the contact hypothesis. Even if the contact is not actual, but merely imagined, people can reduce prejudice. The imagine contact hypothesis (i.e., imagining a positive interaction with an outgroup member) has been shown to reduce prejudice against Muslims and other minority groups (for more information, see this meta-analytic test of the imagined contact hypothesis).

And finally, Islamophobia can be fought by openly advocating for respect and humanity. At the beginning of this blog entry, we spoke about the young Muslim girl living in fear. In response to that, U.S. soldiers and veterans from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds publicly stated their intent to protect her, using social media as an exemplary way to counteract widespread discrimination and prejudice directed at Muslim children.


Dr. Muninder K. Ahluwalia is an Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership at Montclair State University.  She earned her PhD in counseling psychology from New York University in 2002.  Her research and teaching have focused on multicultural issues in counseling, the experiences of Sikh Americans since 9/11, intersectionality, and patterns of race and racism in academia. She was awarded the American Counseling Association Counselors for Social Justice ‘Ohana Award in 2012. In addition to her academic work, she currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, and as an advisory board member on the Committee for Diversity and Public Interest for the Counseling Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She has previously served as chair of the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs of the American Psychological Association. In her consultation practice, she provides diversity assessment, training, and programming for a wide range of organizations.

Dr. Saba Rasheed Ali is an associate professor of counseling psychology in the Department of Quantitative and Psychological Foundations at the University of Iowa. She earned her PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Oregon in 2001. Her research interest are concerned with issues related to Islam and psychology, feminism, and vocational psychology. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the current chair of the Society for Vocational Psychology. In 2004, she published an article entitled Islam 101: Understanding the Religion and Therapy Implications with her colleagues, William Liu and Majeda Humedian. She has been active in providing webinars, presentations, and workshops to psychologists, mental health providers, and community members on issues related to Islamophobia and Muslim Americans.




Filed under: Culture, Ethnicity and Race, Human Rights and Social Justice Tagged: bias, discrimination, hate crime, islamophobia, prejudice, racial profiling, racism, religious discrimination, stereotypes, stereotyping

Ageism Alert – Get the Facts on Aging

iStock_000081536221_Medium (1) (2)By Sheri R. Levy, PhD, Ashley Lytle, and Jamie L. Macdonald (Stony Brook University, Psychology Department)

Most people hope to live long lives, yet American culture is filled with negative images of getting older. Older adulthood is thought of as a time marked by deteriorating health, poor memory, low levels of activity, loneliness, and a sense of uselessness.  The truth is that these characterizations are inaccurate and they can make us anxious about growing old. They also make us feel and behave in surprisingly negative ways toward older people – we tolerate ageist jokes, age discrimination in the workplace, as well as financial and physical abuse toward older adults.

Those negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviors are what is known as AGEISM.  Did you know that ageism can harm your own mental, cognitive, and physical health as you age?

What can you do? Get the facts on aging. People who know more about aging are less ageist and may be on the path to living longer and more carefree lives.


Fact or Fiction: Test your knowledge on aging 

True or False?


  1. The majority of old people (past 65 years) have Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. As people grow older, their intelligence declines significantly.
  3. It is very difficult for older adults to learn new things.
  4. Most older people live in nursing homes.
  5. Older workers cannot work as effectively as younger workers.
  6. Most old people are set in their ways and unable to change.
  7. The majority of old people are bored.
  8. Participation in volunteering through organizations (e.g., churches and clubs) tends to decline among older adults.
  9. Abuse of older adults is not a significant problem in the U.S.
  10. Grandparents today take less responsibility for rearing grandchildren than ever before.


If you answered “false” to all these questions, you have a perfect score – congratulations! If you missed some questions, you are not alone. Most people including high school students, college students, teachers, and health care professionals in training score poorly on these tests. We learn very little accurate knowledge about aging at any stage in our schools, even those of us entering professions in which we will work with older adults.


So, what can you do?


When knowledge about aging increases, ageist attitudes decrease.

Educating yourself about aging can take the form of a one-hour lecture, several lectures, a multi-month course, or through reading more about aging in academic books or scientific journals.


Ageism is a societal problem that touches all of us. It creates anxiety and conflict between younger and older generations. It restricts the lives and livelihood of older adults, damaging their support systems, work opportunities, health care, their thoughts about themselves, and even their physical health – some studies show that people who buy into negative ageist stereotypes live shorter lives.


Isn’t it time to get educated about aging?


All of the knowledge of aging questions are from this 50-item measure:


Breytspraak, L. & Badura, L. (2015). Facts on Aging Quiz (revised; based on Palmore (1977; 1981)). Retrieved from http://info.umkc.edu/aging/quiz/


If you would like to learn more about ageism, the following might be of interest to you:


Carstensen, L. (2011). Laura Carstensen: Older people are happier. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_carstensen_older_people_are_happier


Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., Kunkel, S. R., & Kasl, S. V. (2002). Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 261-270. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.83.2.261


Levy, S.R., & Macdonald, J.L. (2016). Progress on Understanding Ageism. Journal of Social Issues, 72(1), 1-22. doi:10.1111/josi.12153


McGuire, S. L., Klein, D. A., & Couper, D. (2005). Aging Education: A National Imperative. Educational Gerontology, 31(6), 443-460. doi:10.1080/03601270590928170


Ng, R., Allore, H.G., Trentalange, M., Monin, J.K., & Levy., B.R. (2015).  Increasing negativity of age stereotypes across 200 years: Evidence from a database of 400 million words.  PLoS ONE, 10, e0117086. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117086


Wurtele, S. K. (2009). Activities of Older Adults survey: Tapping into student views of the elderly. Educational Gerontology, 35, 1026–1031. doi:10.1080/03601270902973557





Sheri R. Levy, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, USA. She earned her PhD at Columbia University in New York City, USA. Levy studies factors that cause and maintain prejudice, stigmatization, and negative intergroup relations and that can be harnessed to reduce bias, marginalization, and discrimination. Her research focuses on bias based on age, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, and social class.  With Jamie L. Macdonald and Todd D. Nelson, Levy co-Edited a special issue of Journal of Social Issues on “Ageism: Health and Employment Contexts” (Levy, Macdonald, & Nelson, 2016). Levy’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and Levy publishes her research in journals such as Basic and Applied Social Psychology, Child Development, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, and Social Issues and Policy Review. Levy was Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Social Issues from 2010-2013 and is a Fellow of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (Division 9 of American Psychological Association).


Ashley Lytle is a 5th year PhD candidate at Stony Brook University working with Sheri R. Levy. Ashley received her BA from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, USA and her MA from Stony Brook University, New York, USA.  Her research explores how prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping impact social and health outcomes among marginalized groups. For example, much of Ashley’s research has focused on better understanding prejudice toward older adults and sexual minorities, with the ultimate goal of creating simple, yet effective, interventions to reduce prejudice. She also examines how intergroup contact and beliefs systems relate to prejudice as well as the more applied focus of understanding factors that are involved in the reduction of prejudice and stigmatization.


Jamie L. Macdonald is graduate student at Stony Brook University working with Sheri R. Levy. Jamie received her BA and MA in Psychology from Stony Brook University, New York, USA. Her research investigates prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination with a focus on ageism in different contexts, like the workplace. She was a Co-Editor, with Sheri R. Levy and Todd D. Nelson, on a special issue of Journal of Social Issues on “Ageism: Health and Employment Contexts” (Levy, Macdonald, & Nelson, 2016).

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com


Filed under: Aging Tagged: ageism, aging, discrimination, prejudice