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meanings, measures, and methods

Psychological research on gender, research methods, sex & sexuality


In the ProgressLab, we study how people’s intimate lives are affected by conditions of social inequality. These conditions might include people’s gender, race/ethnicity, sexual identity, access to resources such as education and healthcare, as well as many other conditions that affect how people live.

Research in the lab draws from several fields and disciplines, including: social/personality psychology, critical psychology, feminist psychology, as well as feminist theory, critical theory, cultural studies, and the inter-disciplinary field of sexuality research.

Under the direction of Dr. Sara McClelland, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, studies in the lab have included investigations of sexual health and development in young people, as well as those late in life. Studies have examined issues related to sexual satisfaction, sexual attraction, sexual self-concept, to name just a few. Research in the ProgressLab often relies on feminist empirical methods that involve questions of how knowledge is made, the use of psychological research in applied settings, and issues of social justice.

Research in the ProgressLab frequently involves a close analysis of research methods, as well as the development of new measures and methods. Studies in the lab use a wide range of data collection methods, including interviews, surveys, focus groups, Q methods, and national datasets. In addition, we are developing several new measures in the field of sexual satisfaction and health.

Feminism involves so much more than gender equality and it involves so much more than gender. Feminism must involve consciousness of capitalism... So it has to involve a consciousness of capitalism and racism and colonialism and post-colonialities, and ability and more genders than we can even imagine and more sexualities than we ever thought we could name. Feminism has helped us not only to recognize a range of connections among discourses and institutions and identities and ideologies, that we often tend to consider separately. But it has also helped us to develop epistemological and organizing strategies that take us beyond the categories ‘women’ and ‘gender.’ And feminist methodologies impel us to explore connections that are not always apparent. And they drive us to inhabit contradictions and discover what is productive in these contradictions. Feminism insists on methods of thought and action that urge us to think things together that appear to be separate and to disaggregate things that appear to naturally belong together.

Angela Davis, 2013,
“Feminism and Abolition:
Theories and Practices for the 21st Century”