February 2016 Spotlight, Tiffany Yip, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Tiffany Yip, Ph.D. (tyip@fordham.edu) at Fordham University. Dr. Yip received her Ph.D. degree in Psychology at New York University. Her research interests center on ethnic identity development among minority youth, young adults, and adults. Her work investigates direct and indirect association between ethnic identity and psychological adjustment, as well as impact of ethnic-specific and general stressors for well-being outcomes.


tiffany yip

Personal Spotlight

We asked scholars to describe one of the following: a) what drew them to do work on Asians,Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to them in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in their area.

I first became interested in studying the role of race and culture in child and adolescent development as an undergraduate student. The fortunate intersection of personal and professional threads has shaped my current research program. The personal side of the story begins with being born in California to immigrant parents who came to the United States to attend graduate school. My early childhood was spent in California, Illinois, and Texas. As an adolescent, my family returned to Hong Kong where I attended an international middle and high school. I had the fortune of attending an extremely ethnically and culturally diverse school. I returned to the United States to attend University and found my college campus to be a stark contrast to the diverse and integrated school context from which I was coming. This contrast really highlighted by Asian identity and sparked a search for the meaning of that identity. At the time, I was also shaped by strong influences in my professional development. Knowing that I wanted to pursue graduate school in psychology, I began volunteering in Dr. Kristi Lockhart’s lab studying children’s beliefs in trait malleability. After attending Claude Steele’s “Whistling Vivaldi” lecture, I began to wonder how racial stereotypes might impact the extent to which children would judge trait malleability. For example, I hypothesized that children would view stereotype-consistent traits (e.g., Asians being good at math) as less malleable than stereotype-inconsistent traits (e.g., Asians are athletic). This study became my honors thesis and the experience helped me realize that I wanted to pursue research thereafter. In graduate school, I continued to be interested in Asian American adolescents’ identity development and wanted to further explore how contexts impact ethnic identity development. My Community Psychology training at NYU equipped me with the methodological and analytical tools to explore both proximal (i.e., immediate setting) and more distal (i.e., school composition) contexts. Today, my work has expanded to include non-Asian ethnic minority groups in hopes of identifying unique and universal identity and related experiences within and across minority groups. The more that I sought to understand the connections between context, identity and outcomes, the more it became apparent to me that I need to explore the role of discrimination as well. So some of our newer work has a strong focus on these four constructs.

My advice for someone starting research on the topic? It sounds cliché, but find your passion. Ask the questions that get you excited and keep you excited in your search for the answers. Research can be an isolating process at times, so it is important to connect with like-minded colleagues with whom you can collaborate. Everybody brings something different to the table and a good collaboration is really more than the sum of its parts.

Research Spotlight

We also asked scholars to describe a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes them excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other understudied populations; d) practice or policy relevance.

I am really excited about two psychophysiological projects in our lab. We have begun to unpack some of the physiological mechanisms linking ethnic discrimination to various outcomes. The first study investigates the link between ethnic discrimination and its impact on academic and psychological outcomes among adolescents, exploring sleep disturbance as a mediator. This study is funded by the NSF and focuses on African American and Latino youth; we are currently in the second of four years. We will hear soon whether or not we are successful in securing funding to add an Asian American cohort to the study. The second project is in the pilot stage and involves an experimental manipulation of exposure to ethnic discrimination among college students. The experimental paradigm affords us the opportunity to explore immediate physiological reactions and individual differences in these immediate responses. The study uses both self-report measures as well as physiological markers such as hair cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate variability, and galvanic skin response. We will also track changes in physiological markers over night to explore recoveries from instances of discrimination. We hope that this pilot will lay the foundation for our next big project on psychophysiological consequences of discrimination.

Experiences with Asian Caucus

I remember when the Asian caucus started out as an idea at the 2006 SRA conference. Ruth Chao, Richard Lee, Vivian Tseng, Ram Mahalingham and I decided that it was time to start an Asian Caucus in SRCD. Now, 10 years later, I am heartened to see that the organization has flourished and continues to support the Asian community.

Upcoming Talks/Presentations

Fred Leong and I will be chairing a preconference at the upcoming APA Div 45 conference “Research Methods with Ethnic Minority Populations”.

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