Onnie Rogers

Assistant Professor of Psychology


Onnie Rogers is a developmental psychologist whose research curiosities converge at the intersection of psychology, human development, and education. She is interested in social and educational inequities and the mechanisms through which macro-level disparities are both perpetuated and disrupted at the micro-level of identities and relationships. Her research investigates identity development among racially diverse children and adolescents in urban contexts. She asks how our social groups—and the cultural stereotypes that accompany them—shape how we see ourselves and interact with others. 

Rogers is a member of the Society for Research on Child Development, Society for Research on Adolescence, and American Educational Research Association. She was a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow and has received postdoctoral fellowships from the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education and the Ford Foundation. Her research has been published in scholarly journals, including Child Development, Journal of Adolescent Research, and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, in addition to invited edited volumes about child development and identity. She is an associate editor for the Journal of Adolescent Research.

She received her PhD in developmental psychology from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and holds a BA in psychology and educational studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Current Projects

“Black Girl Magic”: The Social and Academic Lives of Black Girls. Rogers will launch a new longitudinal study to investigate the social and academic experiences and development of Black adolescent girls attending an all-girls high school. The guiding question is: How do cultural stereotypes and messages, school, and community contexts influence how Black adolescent girls see themselves, their relationships, and their futures? A central focus of this work is to identify the strategies that Black girls use as they negotiate society’s expectations about who and what they are and can become and how the all-girls school supports them in this process. The results of this work will contribute to our understanding of the needs and strengths of Black girls, and benefit the school leadership as they work to strengthen and refine their strategies to support the social and academic development of adolescent girls.

Children’s Self-Perceptions and Social Interactions in School. Rogers’ current research engages three related questions: (1) how do children’s racial and gender identities develop over time; (2) how do racial and gender stereotypes intersect and impact identity development; and (3) how do multiple identities intersect (or overlap) across development? Primary data were gathered from 2013–16 and include in-depth interviews, survey measures, and experimental techniques. The sample includes 240 children ages 7-14 years from racially diverse backgrounds in predominately low-income public schools. 

The Development of Multiple Identities and Intersectionality. Much of the research on identity focuses exclusively on adolescents, though we know that social group attitudes and identities emerge in middle childhood (around 8 years old). Through an in-depth, qualitative analysis, Rogers is exploring the origins of identity development by analyzing how children speak about and make sense of social groups, including race, gender, academics, and athletics. She met individually with the 240 children in the study mentioned above to discuss their thoughts on race and gender; identity and self-perceptions; school and learning; peers and friendships; and future aspirations. The ongoing qualitative analysis is focused on how the content of their identity narratives changes over time and how their understandings differ across social identities, in addition to group differences in identity based on race and gender. This analysis also explores the relationship between multiple identities and stereotypes. For example, how do children understand and experience what it means to be “black” (race), what it means to be a “boy” (gender), and what it means to be a “black boy” (race x gender)?

Stereotypes and Resistance. In related research, Rogers examines adolescents’ awareness of racial and gender stereotypes and their responses to such stereotypes—that is, the ways in which they both challenge (resist) and reinforce (accommodate) societal stereotypes as they form their identities. She finds that youth often actively counteract negative stereotypes in positive, healthy ways, a process known as “resistance.” In collaboration with Niobe Way at the Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education, Rogers is conducting a longitudinal, cross-cultural analysis of healthy resistance to gender stereotypes—specifically cultural norms of masculinity—among middle school students in the United States and China. This work will further examine how healthy resistance might affect early adolescents’ psychosocial wellbeing. 

Implicit and Explicit Identities. As a psychological process, much of the “work” of identity development occurs unconsciously or implicitly as one responds to the stereotypes, norms, and expectations of a social group. Rogers’ research works across methodological approaches to explore both the explicit (what youth say) and the implicit (what they think) underpinnings of identity. With Dario Cevencek and Andrew Metlzoff of the University of Washington, she developed an Implicit Associations Test for a diverse sample of children to investigate the link between implicit and explicit measures of children’s racial and gender identities and endorsement of racial and gender stereotypes. This work examines the link between implicit measures of multiple identities and children’s academic engagement and school performance.

Research Translation Project. A recipient of the Hearst Fellowship for Research Translation, Rogers has developed two online learning modules about race and child development. The research-based, interactive modules draw from Rogers’ own research, as well as literature in the field, to discuss what children understand about race and how adults can engage in race-related conversations throughout childhood. The modules constitute a free resource-and-learning tool for parents, educators, and community members. Each one includes a discussion guide for independent or group learning. The Hearst Fellowship and Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington have supported the project.

Selected Publications

Rogers, L. O., E. Niwa, and N. Way. 2017. The friendships of racial-ethnic minority adolescents in context: Identity and discrimination. In Handbook of Positive Development of Minority Children, ed. N. Cabrera and B. Leyendecker, 267–80. The Netherlands: Springer.

Way, N., and L. O. Rogers. 2017. Resistance to dehumanization: A developmental and contextual process. In Jean Piaget Society. Advancing conceptualizations of social development, ed. N. Nasir, C. Wainryb, and E. Turiel, 229–57Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Rogers, L. O., E. Niwa, and N. Way. Forthcoming. The friendships of racial-ethnic minority adolescents in context: Identity and discrimination. In Handbook of Positive Development of Minority Children, ed. N. Cabrera and B. Leyendecker. The Netherlands: Springer.

Rogers, L. O., and A. Meltzoff. 2016. Is gender more important and meaningful than race? An analysis of racial and gender identity among black, white, and mixed-race children. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology.

Rogers, L. O., and N. Way. 2016. “I have goals to prove all those people wrong and not fit into any one of those boxes”: Paths of resistance to stereotypes among Black adolescent malesJournal of Adolescent Research 31: 263–98.

Ghavami, N., D. Kastiaficas, and L. O. Rogers. 2016. Toward an intersectional approach in developmental science: The role of race, gender, sexual orientation, and immigrant status. In Advances in Child Development and Behavior, vol. 50, ed. S. Horn, M. Ruck, and L. Liben, 31–73. Burlington, Mass.: Academic Press.

Rogers, L. O., M. Scott, and N. Way. 2015. Racial and gender identity development among Black adolescent males: An intersectionality perspective. Child Development 86: 40724. 

Way, N., and L. O. Rogers. 2015. “[T]hey say Black men won’t make it, but I know I’m gonna make it”: Identity development in the context of cultural stereotypes. In Oxford Handbook of Identity Development, ed. M. Syed and K. McLean, 26985. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.