Melissa R. Herman

Academic Appointments

Senior Lecturer in Psychological and Brain Sciences
Senior Lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric

Melissa Herman is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on multiracial youth and how their identities affect their development in areas such as achievement, mental health, and friendship choices.  She also studies perceptions of multiracial people and whether observers’ perceptions are congruent with multiracial people’s self-identifications.  One recent project examined attitudes toward multiracial people, including whether multiracial people should be protected under affirmative action / anti-discrimination policies, and comparing people’s global versus personal attitudes toward different types of interracial relationships.  

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Melissa teaches courses on affirmative action, public policy, group behavior, identity development, education, race, social psychology, and writing in the social sciences.

Her pedagogical specialty is teaching students to work well in groups, particularly on writing projects.  Melissa has taught at Dartmouth College, Northwestern University, and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Melissa holds a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Wesleyan University and PhD and MA in Sociology from Stanford University.  

While on a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship during the 2016-17 academic year, she taught faculty and doctoral students in Alecu Russo University at Balti, Moldova.  She is also working a project with colleagues at Berlin's Institute for the Study of Migration at Humboldt University to compare the achievement, mental health, and cultural competence of binational students in German schools.  The project compares the outcomes of students with one versus two parents of Turkish or Russian background, to those with two German parents.  

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Silsby 106
HB 6207
Psychological and Brain Sciences
B.A. Wesleyan University
M.A. Stanford University
Ph.D. Stanford University

Selected Publications

Herman, M.R., 2020, “Methods of Measuring Multiracial Americans,” The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification, Palgrave/MacMillan.

"Both personal and public:  Measuring attitudes toward intermarriage,” with Mary Campbell, Journal of Social Issues, 71, 4, 712-733 (2015). 

“I wouldn’t, but you can: attitudes toward interracial marriage,” with Mary Campbell, Social Science Research, 41, 343-358 (2012).

“Do You See What I Am?  How observers’ backgrounds affect their perceptions of multiracial faces.” Social Psychology Quarterly, 73, 1, 58-78 (2010). 

“Politics and Policies: Attitudes toward multiracial people and political candidates,” with Mary Campbell, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 33, 9, 1511-1536 (2010).

“The Black-White-Other Test Score Gap: Testing Theories of Academic Performance Among Multiracial and Monoracial Adolescents,” Sociology of Education , 82, 1, 20-46 (2009).

“Phenotype and social class: an in-depth look at multiracial Hispanic youth,” with Maria Castilla, Chapter 12 in Multiracial Americans and Social Class, edited by Kathleen Korgen, New Brunswick, NJ: Routledge (2010).

“Ethnicity and Image: Correlates of Crowd Affiliation Among Ethnic Minority Youth,” with B B Brown, J V Hamm, and D J Heck, Child Development , 79, 3, 528-546 (2008).

“Racial Identification among Multiracial Youth: Implications for Adjustment,” The Handbook of Race, Racism, and the Developing Child , S Quintana and C McKowan (eds.) 203-225 (2008).

“Forced to Choose: Some Determinants of Racial Identification in Multi-racial Adolescents,” Child Development , 75, 3,  730-748 (2004).

“How Neighborhoods, Families, Peer Groups, and Schools Jointly Affect Changes in Early Adolescent Development,” with T D Cook, M Phillips, and R A Settersten, Child Development , 73, 4, 1283-1309 (2002).

“The Influence of Family Regulation, Connection, and Psychological Autonomy on Six Measures of Adolescent Functioning,” with S M Dornbusch and J R Herting, Journal of Adolescent Research , 12, 1, 34-67 (1997).

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Speaking engagements

University of Tiraspol, April 2017, "Achievement motivation," a presentation for faculty and students of English language.

Alecu Russo State University of Moldova at Balti, April, 2017, "Current trends in American writing: language for discussing race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability," presented at the Third International Symposium on English Language.

University of Moldova, March 2017, "Explaining the test score gap between Black and White Americans," presented at a conference on African American History.

Duke University, Sociology Department, March 2009, “I wouldn’t, but you can: attitudes toward interracial marriage.”

Northwestern University, Psychology Department, October 2008, “Multiracial Phenotypes: Physicians’ perceptions of race.”

University of Illinois, Chicago, African American Studies and Sociology Departments, October 2008, “Ethnic Boundary Crossing and Social Exclusion: Perceptions of Multiracial Americans”

University of Iowa, Sociology Department, December 2007, “Multiracial Phenotypes in an Experimental Study: How observer characteristics affect perceptions of race.”

Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, October 2007, “Status and Stereotypes” a workshop on using Complex Instruction to combat status orders and stereotypes in the classroom.

Selected works and activities

Elected Positions

Council Member, Children and Youth section of the ASA, 2007-2010

Executive Council Member: Society for Research on Adolescence, 1996-98


Research consultant, Minority Student Achievement Network, 2002-2003

Consultant and guest speaker, Upper Valley Teacher’s Institute, 2005-2009

Research consultant to two studies of minority achievement and retention in math, science, and technology: Brian Pogue of Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, and Vicki May of DCAL (Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning)

Research associate, Inverness Research Associates, California Subject Matter Projects, 1994-1995


Consulting Editor, Child Development, Special Issue on Race, 2005-06

Article reviewer for the American Sociological Review, Child Development, Sociology of Education, Social Forces, Social Problems, Social Science Research, American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, Self & Identity, Teacher’s College Record, Journal of Adolescence, and Social Psychology Quarterly

Grant reviewer for the National Science Foundation

Book reviewer for Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Routledge Press