June 2019 Spotlight, Eva E Chen, Ed. D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Eva E Chen (evaechen@ust.hk) as our member in spotlight. Dr. Chen is currently an Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Her research sits at the intersection of developmental, social, and cognitive psychology. She is interested in the learning processes of young children and adults across different social and cultural backgrounds; her studies have involved participants from a variety of racial groups in the U.S., Taiwan, and Hong Kong. She has also investigated early childhood education policies and its impact on young East Asian children’s learning.

357_P16949_SOSC_ChenEva2 1) What drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field?

I was born in the United States, but spent my primary and secondary school years in Taiwan before returning to the U.S. for my tertiary education. Because I had grown up identifying both as American and as Taiwanese, I was interested in how our cultural background can shape our perspectives. At Stanford, I joined Jeanne Tsai’s Culture and Emotion Lab to learn more about conducting psychological research, and found that I enjoyed working with young children. My experiences conducting research with children (and adults!) across different cultures continued throughout my academic career, both at Harvard University where I completed my doctorate with Paul L. Harris and Mahzarin Banaji, at The University of Hong Kong where I was a post-doctoral fellow with Hui Li and Nirmala Rao, as well as at my current institution, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

2) A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it. 

I recently published a study in Child Development, in which we examined the learning and socializing preferences of Hong Kong Chinese children. We found that while pre-primary school children preferred to learn from Chinese informants (i.e., their ethnic ingroup member), these preferences were stronger when the comparison outgroup member was Southeast Asian (as opposed to when the comparison group member was White)—even for the children being raised by a Southeast Asian domestic worker at home. Children also preferred to socialize with their Chinese peers, especially if they attended a local school rather than an international school in Hong Kong. Our findings contribute a cross-cultural perspective to the field of social cognitive development, demonstrating how Chinese children’s home and school backgrounds may impact their ingroup preferences. We hope to continue this work with Hong Kong ethnic minority children as well, who are even more understudied relative to their Chinese counterparts.

3) Any upcoming talks or presentations?

I will be giving my first research talk in mainland China, at the Nanjing Normal University, as well as my first talk at the newly founded Children’s Discovery Museum in Hong Kong. I always look forward to sharing and exchanging ideas with researchers from other regions, as well as with parents who are interested in how child developmental work can help them raise their children well.

4) A preferred weblink


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