Kellina Craig-Henderson IDEA Award Winner: Dr. Riana E. Anderson

Dr. Anderson’s work on racial socialization and discrimination is at the leading edge of work on these issues which can be seen by observing the programmatic nature of her work, namely the “building blocks” of her research program. Leaders, like Dr. Anderson, build from the ground up, leave no stone unturned, and importantly, are always engaged in active learning. That is, they know that the knowledge gathering process never stops, and they put newly acquired skills to good use.

Dr. Anderson’s work exudes all these characteristics. For instance, in Dr. Anderson’s area of work, we see a dearth of well-constructed instruments to assess key constructs. In response to this gap in the literature, Dr. Anderson and her colleagues developed the Racial Socialization Competency Scale. Informed by RECAST, this 27-item measure covers multiple dimensions relevant to racial socialization competency in families (i.e., stress, skills, and confidence). Further, initial examinations of scores taken from this measure indicate that these dimensions predict domains relevant to racial socialization, including overall stress, racial socialization frequency, and self-efficacy.

Dr. Anderson’s work involves the notion that, to intervene and address issues related to racial socialization and discrimination requires firm foundations in theory and measurement. Not only has Dr. Anderson built these foundations, but she has applied these foundations to intervention development. In particular, considering her development of the Engaging, Managing, and Bonding through Race intervention. As an application of RECAST, EMBRace targets the racial socialization practices between Black adolescents and families, and this innovative intervention seeks to reduce racial stress and trauma through psychoeducation, the practice of healthy racial socialization and stress management skills, and the promotion of bonding in Black families.

In addition to the findings of her work with EMBRace, Dr. Anderson’s ongoing William T. Grant Scholars Program (WTGSP) award, entitled EMBRacing Technology to Improve Black Youth’s Coping with Racial Discrimination to Reduce Psychosocial Inequalities is equally as influential. With this grant, Dr. Anderson is conducting a large-scale randomized controlled trial of EMBRace in its current in-person form. Further, in her project Dr. Anderson is developing and testing EMBRaceTech: an online version of the intervention. She also leverages virtual reality technology to devise performance-based or observational paradigms for measuring the degree to which EMBRace promotes “real world” changes to how Black youth react to or cope with ecologically valid simulations of key race-related stressors, namely contact with law enforcement.

To address her aims, Dr. Anderson assembled a mentoring team consisting of scholars with deep, well-established expertise in intervention science and applications of virtual reality technology to issues surrounding structural racism. This work combines scholars across multiple disciplines including Family Science, Human Development, Psychology, Public Health, Social Work and Sociology. As such, Dr. Anderson’s work embodies the essence of Team Science approaches to inquiry, and she places issues surrounding racial socialization and discrimination at the nucleus of this team. What makes Dr. Anderson’s work stand out among many promising early career scholars in Psychology is that her work is right now, as opposed to “promising”. In fact, Dr. Anderson’s work is leading among current thinking surrounding racial socialization and discrimination among children, youth, and families.