Member Spotlight

Dr. Eleanor Seaton 

Eleanor Seaton is an Associate Professor in the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. Dr. Seaton is a developmental psychologist who uses a variety of methodological designs and analytical techniques to explore resilience processes among Black youth. Dr. Seaton’s research is interdisciplinary and relies on social psychological and sociological frameworks, embedded firmly within a developmental perspective. Dr. Seaton’s research examines the influence of racial discrimination on adolescent development, the impact of racial identity on adolescent development, and the relation between racial discrimination and racial identity. Dr. Seaton’s primary goal is to understand how Black adolescents thrive and lead happy and productive lives despite the pervasive and detrimental effects of racial discrimination.

Recent research

I am excited about a new area of inquiry, which examines the intersection of pubertal development, racial discrimination and racial identity among Black children and adolescents. In one study, my colleagues and I examined the intersection of pubertal status and racial identity among Black children. The results indicated that Black boys who felt positively about being Black and were in less-advanced stages of pubertal development manifested fewer internalizing problems compared to Black boys who were further along in their pubertal development and who felt positive about being Black (Carter, Seaton & Rivas-Drake, 2017). In another study conducted among Black adolescent girls, we found that considering race to be central to one’s identity was related more strongly to depressive symptoms for late maturing girls attending schools that were not predominantly Black (Seaton & Carter, 2017). Furthermore, the belief that the broader society viewed African Americans negatively was related more strongly to depressive symptoms among early maturing Black girls attending schools that were not predominantly Black (Seaton & Carter, 2017).

Carter, R., Seaton, E.K. & Rivas-Drake, D. (2017). Racial identity in the context of pubertal development: Implications for adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 53, 2170-2181.

Seaton, E.K. & Carter, R. (2017). Pubertal timing, racial identity, neighborhood and school context among Black adolescent females. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. doi:10.1037/cdp0000162

Recent talks

I was the invited speaker for the Frances McClelland Institute’s Turbeville Speaker Series at the University of Arizona, which took place on December 1, 2017

Advice for graduate students and junior faculty

1) Check your biases! According to bell hooks, we have been socialized in an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. We all have remnants of those ideologies whether we wish to admit it or not. Confront these biases so they do not negatively influence your research.

2) Educate yourself! We have been taught a White male supremacist version of history, science, social science, philosophy, geography, humanities, and the physical sciences. Learn the truth so your research will not reinforce those ideologies, especially if you study underrepresented groups.

3) Choose projects, collaborators and jobs wisely! Any situation that inflicts emotional, physical and/or psychological trauma is not worth your time regardless of the short-term benefits. Value yourself and your gifts so that you always make wise decisions.

4) Always remain true to who you are! Authenticity is one of the greatest strengths an academic can possess. The more authentic you are, the more authentic and high quality your research will be.

How has SRCD/ERI supported your work? What can we do moving forward?

I enjoyed my tenure as chair of the ERI committee and felt supported by my Governing Council reps, Michael Cunningham and Natasha Cabrera, and SRCD’s former executive director, Lonnie Sherrod. The ERI committee developed some plans to enhance diversity in developmental science and I was excited to see them take flight. Moving forward, I believe we need to be adamant about recruiting and retaining underrepresented scholars in developmental science. We also have to advance a progressive research agenda that negates the deficit approach and promotes the strengths of underrepresented families and youth. Though the current presidential administration is regressive on many social justice issues, the ERI committee must speak out on the issues that matter to marginalized communities. I will end with a quote that inspires me when I feel pessimistic:

When you are right, you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong you cannot be too conservative. – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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