Faculty » Carolyn Bennett Murray

One of the most detrimental effects of inequities experienced by nonwhite ethnic minorities in America is academic underachievement. Specifically, I examine teacher expectancies with regard to student performance as a mediator of the teacher's causal attributions and expressed sentiments (e.g., grades, praise, liking and other rewards) concerning that performance. My research found that when the teacher's expectancies are violated, the teacher may maintain those initial expectancies by perceiving an agent or factors external to the student as responsible. This error prone process, is especially debilitating for African American students since the teacher's expectancy for their academic performance tends to be low. The major assumption of my most recent research is that students who are expected to perform poorly by their teacher(s), will infer a dispositional inadequacy or inability in themselves from the labels and treatment received from the "significant other" (the teacher). The negative emotion associated with internal attributions for failure and external attributions for success creates anxiety which may lead to self-handicapping (lack of effort when faced with academic demands). Having developed this theoretical explanation of African American underachievement, known as the Conditioned Failure Model, present efforts are aimed at empirical research to test the model.

My research interest also includes the dynamics of the African American family. I received a National Institute of Health grant to conduct developmental research on the socialization practices employed by African American families and to understand the processes by which African American children are prepared to participate successfully in the society-at-large. Two hundred African American males and two hundred African American females (i.e., fifty of each gender ages 6, 9, 12 and 15), as well as their parent/caregiver, teacher, and a peer are participating in this study. To date a series of studies have been accepted or published on the development and validation of an instrument designed to assess differential socialization using a Q-sort procedure. The Black Family Process Q-Sort (BFPQ) is an instrument designed to assess differential socialization practices among African American families, to ascertain variable patterns that pertain to racial identity, discipline, family communication, and values.

Selected Publications

Mandara, J. & Murray, C.B. (in press) An empirical typology of African-American family functioning. Journal of Family Psychology.

Murray, C.B. & Mandara, J. (in press ). An assessment of racial socialization and ethnic identity as predictors of self-esteem.. In D. Azibo (Ed.), Annals of African-centered psychology. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA. (32 ms. pages)

Murray, C.B. (in press). Culture as a determinant of mental health. In N.J. Smelser & P.B. Baltes (Eds.). International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. Pergamon: Amsterdam.

Murray, C.B. & Mandara, J. (in press). Racial identity development in African American children: Cognitive and experiential antecedents. In H. McAdoo (Ed.), Black children: Social and parental environments. Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Mandara, J. & Murray, C.B. (2000). Effects of parental status, income, and family functioning on African-American adolescent self-esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 14 (3), 475-490.

Murray, C. B. (1998). Racism and mental health. In H. Friedman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Mental Health, (Vol. 3, pp. 345-357). San Diego, CA: Academic Press

Murray, C. B., Kaiser, R., & Taylor, S. (1997). The OJ Simpson verdict: Predictors of innocent or guilty beliefs. Journal of Social Issues, Special Issue. 53 (3), 455-475.

Peacock, M. J., Murray, C. B., Ozer, D., & Stokes, J. (1996). The development of the Black Family Process Q-sort. In R. Jones (Ed.), Handbook of tests and measurements for use in Black populations (Vol.1, pp.475-493). Hampton, VA: Cobb & Henry.

Murray, C. B., & Warden, R. (1992). Implications of self-handicapping strategies for academic achievement: A reconceptualization. Journal of Social Psychology, 132 (6), 23-37.

Murray, C. B., & Clark, R. M. (1990). Targets of Racism. The American School Board Journal, 177(6), 22-24.