Puberty + Interpersonal Relationships + Identity

Welcome to the AIR lab!

Solidarity and Anti-Racism Statement. As a lab, we acknowledge that the University of Michigan resides on the Traditional Territories of the Three Fire Peoples—the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Bodewadmi. As we work, live, and play on these territories we must keep in mind the ongoing effects of colonization, communities’ struggle for self-determination, colonial state violence, and the recognition of indigenous sovereignty. We affirm the Black Lives Matter movement and efforts toward inclusive and diverse research. We support and celebrate people of all identities—race, ethnicity, religion, class, creed, ability, sex, gender, and sexual orientation and hold pride in the diversity of our lab members, participants, and country. We, as people and researchers, acknowledge that non-racism is not enough to claim but identifying microaggressions, implicit bias, stereotypes, and prejudices is very important to identify and learn about as a group. We encourage everyone to condemn racism and discrimination, work to dismantle oppressive systems, and create inclusive spaces.

Research Conducted in Our Lab 

We study girls as they pass through important life transitions that have the potential for significantly affecting their academic and psychological outcomes and how intersecting identities (gender, ethnicity-race, pubertal timing) shape girls’ interpersonal experiences in school. The transitions we examine include the major biological changes of puberty and the social transition into new social roles and interpersonal relationships. Our research is based on the central tenets of social development theories which emphasize that individual development occurs within a social and cultural context, which itself develops, and furthermore, perpetually interacts with the developing individual. We focus on how different aspects of puberty — its timing and tempo, its impact on identity development, and the ways that adults and peers perceive the developing bodies of girls — shape the academic, psychological health, and well-being of girls.

Select Publications

  • Carter, R. and Flewellen, A.O. (2022), Ethnic-Racial Socialization Among Mothers of Black and Black-White Biracial Daughters During the Pubertal Transition. J Res Adolesc, 32: 99-114.
  • Blazek, J. L., Saint Arnault, D. M., & Carter, R. (2022). Breasts, Butts, and Thighs—Oh My! Weight Spurt and Body Image Messages in Girls’ Puberty Books. Journal of Adolescent Research, 07435584221076052.
  • Seaton, E. K., & Carter, R. (2021). Puberty, depressive symptoms, and neighborhood context among African American and Caribbean Black males. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. Advance online publication.
  • Carter, R., Blazek, J. L., & Kwesele, C. (2020). Perceptions of pubertal timing relative to peers: Comparison targets and social contexts of comparison. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology26(2), 221.
  • Blazek, J. L. & Carter, R. (2019). Understanding disturbed eating in Black adolescents: Effects of gender identity, racial identity and perceived puberty. Psychology of Men & Masculinities20(2), 252.
  • Carter, R., Mustafaa, F., Leath, S., & Butler-Barnes, S. T. (2018). Teachers’ academic and behavioral expectations and girls’ pubertal development: Does the classroom learning environment matter? Social Psychology of Education, 1-28. doi: 1007/s11218-018-9450-1
  • Carter, R., Halawah, A., & Trinh, S. L. (2018). Peer exclusion during the pubertal transition: The role of social competence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence47, 121 – doi: 10.1007/s10964-017-0682-8
  • Carter, R., Seaton, E., & Rivas-Drake, D. (2017). Racial identity in the context of pubertal development: Implications for adjustment. Developmental Psychology53, 2170 – doi: 10.1037/dev0000413
  • Butler-Barnes, S. T., Leath, S., Williams, A., Byrd, C. M., Carter, R., & Chavous, T. M. (2017). Promoting resilience among African American girls: Racial Identity as a protective factor. Child Development. doi:10.1111/cdev.12995.
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