meanings, measures, and methods

Psychological research on gender, research methods, sex & sexuality

Sara McClelland, PhD

I’m an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Women’s Studies and Psychology at the University of Michigan. My research focuses on how experiences of sociopolitical inequality shape individuals’ sense of what they deserve in their intimate lives. I also study how empirical research methods often obscure important elements of people’s self-evaluations. I teach courses with a focus on adolescent sexual development, public policy, and research design. I’m especially interested in points of translation and change efforts concerning sexuality and sexual well-being, including: education, medicine, policy, and research.

My research program builds on the theory of intimate justice in which I argued for the necessity of braiding sexuality research with individuals’ experiences of equity, fairness, and the sociopolitical conditions in which they make decisions and evaluate their intimate lives. I’m particularly interested in how contextual factors – paired with one’s sense of deservingness – shape individuals’ evaluation of concepts such as sexual satisfaction, sexual health, and relational dynamics.

I often investigate meanings of terms that are consistently used in research, yet often lack in-depth analysis of their definitions, including: sexual satisfaction, sexual health, sexual quality of life, desire, want, attraction, hate, and responsibility for diversity. For a brief description of some of the kind of research questions I work with, see these entries in the Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology: Intimate Justice and Adolescent Sexuality.

Departmental Affiliations

Women’s Studies
(See this video for an introduction to the
Women’s Studies Department at the University of Michigan.)
Personality & Social Contexts Psychology
Gender & Feminist Psychology

Ways to Contact Me

Google Scholar
Phone: 734.763.4618