Cleopatra Abdou, Ph.D.
Social Psychology, Health Psychology
Culture, Stress and Coping, Minority Health, Intergroup Relations, Stereotype Threat and Discrimination, Pregnancy, Maternal-Child-Family Health
What factors allow individuals, families, communities, and societies to be healthy, happy, and successful against the odds? This is the question at the heart of Dr. Abdou’s health and human flourishing research program. Dr. Abdou investigates the interplay of sociocultural and psychobiological determinants of health and well-being. Her interdisciplinary research highlights cultural and psychosocial resources that promote flourishing and buffer stress. She examines how these effects are reflected in the body and behavior to improve mental and physical health during critical lifespan developmental phases, including pregnancy, early childhood, and later life, thereby reducing ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities. Alongside collaborator, Dr. Adam Fingherhut, Dr. Abdou was the first to develop experimental methods to examine stereotype threat—a threat to important aspects of the self, including ethnic and gender identity—as a psychosocial barrier contributing to differential patterns in healthcare decision-making and, ultimately, health disparities. Dr. Abdou’s empirical work led to the development of the Culture and Social Identity Health Theory and the conceptual framework of Aging Before Birth and Beyond. Dr. Abdou’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Mellon/Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Michigan Center for Integrative Approaches to Health Disparities. Her work is published in scientific journals in psychology, public health, medicine, and sociology. Dr. Abdou is engaged in international collaborations, including with the American University in Cairo. Dr. Abdou received her Ph.D. in social health psychology, with a minor in quantitative psychology, from UCLA in June 2008.