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Marginalization, Mental Health, and Empowerment Lab
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Ongoing Projects > Marginalized Identities

Ongoing Projects

Marginalized Identities

Shedding Light on Invisible Chronic Illness: Social Support, Minority Stress, and Psychological Well-Being

This study examines the relationship between invisible chronic health conditions and their impact on psychological well-being. Past research on this topic has been primarily focused on medical based models and often disregards the psychological impacts associated with an invisible chronic illness. This study uses minority stress theory and path analysis to examine how social support is mediated by stigma consciousness and outness in its relationship to psychological well-being.   

Specifically, the author expects that perceived social support, and outness each would be related positively with perceived well-being, and that stigma would be related negatively with perceived well-being. The second set of hypotheses involved the mediation patterns proposed in the minority stress literature. Specifically, it is predicted that proximal minority stressors (i.e., expectations of stigma, and outness/concealment) would mediate the relations of the distal stressor (i.e., perceived social support) with perceived well-being.

Becoming Ace: Identity formation for Asexual Identified People of Color

This is a research study on the experiences of asexual-identified People of Color with identity development or formation. Specifically we are interested in how other social identities may influence or are influenced by an asexual identity.  There is a paucity of research on the subject of human asexuality and a resounding absence of literature exploring the lives of asexual-identified people of color.  It is the author's hope to illuminate the dynamic nature of identity formation and experience.  This study is currently under way.  If you are interested, please find a link to the survey under the Announcements on the Home page.

Brief Online Study for Students Diagnosed with Learning Disability/Disabilities

Learning disability (LD) is an umbrella term used to describe a diverse group of disorders that are exhibited by significant difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, listening, reasoning, or mathematic abilities despite having normal or above normal intelligence (Hartman & Krulwich, 1984; NCSALL, 2002; NJCLD, 1987; Stage & Milne, 2010). Learning disabilities are believed to be caused by central nervous system dysfunction, are innate to the individual, and usually occur across the life span. Learning disabilities are considered to be a hidden disability but commonly present themselves in academic settings through inconsistency of performance (Stage & Milne, 2010; Wolf, 2001).

The discrimination experienced by individuals with learning disabilities has been acknowledged as a serious matter (Barga, 1996; Denhart, 2008; Ferri, 2005; Penland, 2007). May and Stone (2010) categorized the following commonly held masterstereotypes of individuals with learning disabilities: (1) low intelligence, (2) compensation possible, (3) processing deficit, (4) nonspecific insurmountable condition, (5) working the system and (6) other. Qualitative research has found individuals with learning disabilities to experience discrimination surrounding these commonly held stereotypes (Barga, 1996; Denhart, 2008; Ferri, 2005; Penland, 2007). In addressing the future directions of learning disability research, Denhart (2008) suggests, "larger scale quantitative studies need to be conducted to confirm if the discrimination is real and to what degree it might be experienced."

Thus, the present study aims to assess individuals with learning disabilities perceived experiences of discrimination and the extent to which they are experienced. More specifically, the present study aims to develop and psychometrically validate the first known measure to assess the discrimination experiences faced by individuals with learning disabilities. The structure of,  Students with Learning Disabilities Perceived Experiences of Discrimination (LDPD) (see attached), was modeled from other established scales measuring discrimination (i.e., sexism, heterosexism, racism). LDPD items came primarily from research findings of qualitative interviews exploring the experiences of individuals with learning disabilities. 

This study is currently recruiting participates for a research study exploring the life experiences of students diagnosed with a learning disability/disabilities. This survey should only take about 20 minutes of your time. If you are at least 18 years old, reside in the U.S., enrolled in college or graduate school, and have been diagnosed with a learning disability/disabilities and are interested in participating, please click on the link below to take you to the survey:

***This study has been approved by the Teachers College, Columbia University Institutional Review Board: (Protocal #14-020). 

If you have any complaints, questions, concerns, or would like to know the results, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Geiger via e-mail at or Dr. Melanie Brewster at

HIV/AIDS Microagressions Measurement Development

This study is focused on shedding light on the lived experiences of individuals living with HIV/AIDS in the US. Previous research has focused on the overt experiences of discrimination individuals with HIV/AIDS face because of the stigmatized associated with their serostatus. This study hopes to elucidate the covert experiences of discrimination individuals living with HIV/AIDS face on a daily basis. Specifically, we are creating a HIV Microaggressions Scale to measure how often covert discrimination occurs.

This study is currently under review by the IRB and will be open anyone 18 years or older, living in the US, with a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS for a least 6 months.