Stephen Chen

Associate Professor of Psychology

Research explores how culture and family processes influence development and mental health across the lifespan.

My research interests lie at the intersection of clinical, cultural, and developmental areas of psychology. The overarching aim of my research is to examine how cultural and family processes influence mental health and development across the lifespan. I explore this question primarily in under-represented, underserved, and at-risk populations.

One line of investigation seeks to identify the mechanisms shaping the development and well-being of Chinese American immigrant families. These studies have focused on the interplay of three constructs - emotion, language, and self-regulation - in the family context.

A related line of investigation expands ethnic-focused conceptualizations of culture to consider the culture of social status. These studies examine children's developing concepts of social status and social mobility and the effects of social status on socioemotional processes.

My research and teaching are both shaped by my previous experience as a K-12 school counselor and administrator in Shanghai, China. At Wellesley College, my courses include Asian American Psychology, Cultural Psychology, and a seminar on Culture and Emotion. My goal in teaching and mentorship is to guide students in connecting fundamental frameworks of cultural and developmental psychology to implications for Asian American well-being.

I am a member of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA), and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), where I am involved in the Asian Caucus and the Teaching Committee. I currently serve on the Editoral Boards for Child Development, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, and the Asian American Journal of Psychology.


  • B.A., Rutgers University
  • Ph.D., University of California (Berkeley)

Current and upcoming courses

  • How can cultural values influence the way we process information, recall memories, or express emotion? What contributes to variations in parenting styles across cultures? How do experiences such as biculturalism, immigration, and racism affect mental health? This course will examine these questions with a specific focus on the cultural experiences of Asian Americans. Our aim is to understand how these experiences interact with basic psychological processes across the lifespan, with attention to both normative and pathological development. (AMST 222 and PSYC 222 are cross-listed courses.)