Month: September 2018

Blog Post 1

Now, more than ever, is a critical time for developmental psychologists and the public at large to understand the state of immigration in the United States. The number of immigrants in the U.S. has grown considerably in just the last 5 years, with there being around 39.9 million immigrants in the U.S. in 2013 (APA, 2013) and around 43.3 million in 2017 (CAP Immigration Team, 2017). Many of these immigrants hail from Mexico, Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean, and come with varying levels of education, skills, and language ability. And yet despite such a wide array of backgrounds and types of people immigrating into the U.S., immigrant populations as a whole are often painted in a negative light (APA, 2013). Attitudes towards immigrants today are especially controversial, with the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, publicly describing immigrants as infesting the U.S. and specifically targeting Mexican immigrants as being rapists (Simon, 2018; Reilly, 2016). Both the sheer number of immigrants arriving in the U.S. and the widespread prejudices against them are reasons why developmental psychologists and the general public should be concerned with how to help immigrants experience healthy development throughout their life.

People can understand how being discriminated against might hurts one’s feelings, but it is also important to understand how it affects one developmentally. People also might ask—what areas of development are impacted? Or even, what are the areas of development to begin with? According to García-Coll et al., areas of development for minorities—including immigrants—include environments like schools, community gathering spaces, and families. It is important to note, however, that areas of development do not only include physical places or things—they also include things like how an individual copes with racism, their temperament, and their ability to engage healthily in social situations and with their emotions (García Coll et al., 1996). With these areas in mind, it is easier to understand how discrimination can have adverse affects on an immigrant’s development. For example, several studies show that being bullied or discriminated against by peers is linked with more difficulty adjusting to school and lower levels of self-esteem in immigrants (Walter van Zalk & Kerr, 2014). This means they could exhibit poorer school performance, and having lower-self esteem could potentially result in inabilities to engage healthily in social situations or an inability to cope with emotions in a safe, productive manner. Regardless of what area is being impacted, it is crucial for people to be aware of how deeply discrimination can affect healthy development in immigrants.

With an understanding of how healthy development can be impeded by negative attitudes towards immigrants, it is then crucial to understand how to reduce such attitudes and discrimination. It is of course not up to developmental psychologists, unfortunately, to implement immigration policies, but they can conduct research aimed towards decreasing negative attitudes against immigrants. For example, studies have found that friendships between immigrant and non-immigrant teenage students are related to an increased level of tolerance and a decreased level of prejudice among those students (Walter van Zalk & Kerr, 2014). García Coll et al. also suggest that bilingual education could help immigrant children in terms of school performance and reducing language barriers within families (García Coll et al., 1996).

It may take a long time before discrimination against immigrants is eradicated, especially considering today’s political climate. But continued research by developmental psychologists regarding understanding and assisting with immigrant’s development, and the fellow understanding of the general public, can certainly help society move in the right direction.



APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration (2013). Crossroads: The psychology of immigration in the new century. Journal of Latino/a Psychology, 1, 133-148.

CAP Immigration Team & Nicholson, Michael D. (2017, April 20). The facts on immigration today: 2017 edition. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from

The Facts on Immigration Today: 2017 Edition

García Coll, C., Lamberty, G., Jenkins, R., Mcadoo, H.P., Crnic, K., Wasik, B. H. & Vázquez García, H. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67, 1891-1914

Reilly, Katie. (August 31, 2016). Here are all the times Donald Trump insulted Mexico. Time Magazine. Retrieved from

Simon, Abigail. (2018, June 19). People are angry President Trump used this word to describe immigrants. Time Magazine. Retrieved from

Walter van Zalk, Maarten Herman & Kerr, Margaret. (2014). Developmental trajectories of prejudice and tolerance toward immigrants from early to late adolescence. Youth Adolescence, 43, 1658-1671.

Minh’s Biography

I am currently a senior majoring in Psychology and Economics. I am from Vietnam and moved to the United States in 2010. I attended middle school and high school in New York and Washington DC before going to Dickinson. I have personal interests in social and personality psychology. After graduation, I do not have clear plans yet but I hope to gain work and research experience and maybe find opportunities to go to graduate school. I studied abroad in Korea and currently studying Korean on my own as I hope to return someday. My hobbies include hanging out with friends, playing soccer, and listening to Kpop.

Katia’s Bio


Hi I am Katia, I am from Kigali, Rwanda. I am a senior Psychology major and Africana Studies minor, my academic interests lie in the intersection of mental health services and the experiences of people of African descent. In the spring semester, I will be doing an independent study that looks at mental health services among black communities.  At the moment I am looking into applying to grad school programs in counselling psychology. On campus I am the president of Anwar belly dance troupe and work for Res life and the library. I am into watching Insecure on HBO and love dancing.

Laura’s Biography

Hi, I’m Laura, and I’m a senior Psychology major! I am particularly interested in social class, sexuality, and maternal health & psychology. I have been involved in research on campus for the last couple years, doing analysis on how people perceive social class. Post graduation, I hope to spend a year or two working for maternal health non-profits and then attend grad school to obtain my PsyD. On campus I am the social media manager for The Peddler. In my free time I enjoy hanging with friends, reading, watching drag shows, and learning as much as I can about other areas of interest besides psychology (including queer literature, true crime, and feminist issues).

Kara’s Bio

Hello, hello! I’m Kara, a Senior Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies double major from the Philadelphia area. I like to play sports, watch football and basketball, draw and paint, hike, write, sing in an acapella group here on campus, and hang out with other lovely Dickinsonians. My guilty pleasures include reality TV and Cheeze-its. I was abroad last Fall in Queensland, Australia and hope to be returning someday (I think I found my happy place).  Academically, I’m interested in masculinity, sexuality, athletics, and intimacy and I’m currently conducting independent research on said topics with a qualitative interview study using college men who play contact varsity sports.

Aya’s Biography

I am a Junior at Dickinson College and I am a psychology major with an Arabic minor. I was born and raised in Egypt until my family decided to move to America in 2009. Now we live in Chester, Pennsylvania. Because of the new addition to our family of my brother who is now seven years old and my sister who is now four years old, and my experience as a coordinator with the Salvation Army Kids Program, I found myself loving and wanting to work with children. I hope to one day work with children who are immigrants or have multiple cultures just like me. I have not yet decided on which way I would like to work with children but hopefully, I can figure it out soon. In my free time, I like to hang out with friends, have dance parties and watch movies. A lot of movies! Any kind but my favorite genres are comedy and romance.

Emily’s Biography

I am currently a senior studying psychology and Spanish. I’m from Dover, MA, which is a small town in the Boston area. After I graduate I will be working in Human Resources with the company that I interned for this summer. It was a great experience and I look forward to continuing my work there. In the future I also plan to find a way to include Spanish into my career. I am a huge animal lover. At home I volunteer at a dog shelter and at school I help to train dogs at the Dog House.

Mackenzie Santorelli’s Biography

Hi! I am currently a senior at Dickinson College. I am from a small town called Cranford, New Jersey and have lived there all my life. I plan on attending an accelerated nursing school program in the fall following graduation. I have been an EMT for six years at the Cranford First Aid Squad and have loved every minute of it. Some of my favorite things to do are practice yoga, compete in Spartan Races, play with my dog, and eat delicious foods, especially lasagna.

Halle’s Biography

I am a college senior at Dickinson College originally from Portland, Oregon.  My interests lie in a variety of things such as organizational psychology, human interaction, and education policy.  After graduation I hope to return to the west coast and do some sort of work in human resources, but I have no idea where the wind will take me! I love to travel, cook, eat the food that I cook, and explore nature.  I also love children.  I am an active member of the organization Big Brother Big Sisters, and I am also the Education chairwoman of my sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma.