Psychological Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

A decolonial and liberation lens to social justice research: Upholding promises for diverse, inclusive, and equitable psychological science

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In the face of harmful disparities and inequities, it is crucial for researchers to critically reflect on methodologies and research practices that can dismantle systems of oppression, accommodate pluralistic realities, and facilitate opportunities for all communities to thrive. Historically, knowledge production for the sciences has followed a colonial and colonizing approach that continues to silence and decontextualize the lived experiences of people of color. This article acknowledges the harm to people of color communities in the name of research and draws from decolonial and liberation frameworks to advance research practices and psychological science toward equity and social justice. In this article, we propose a lens rooted in decolonial and liberatory principles that researchers can use to rethink and guide their scientific endeavors and collaborations toward more ethical, equitable, inclusive, respectful, and pluralistic research practices. The proposed lens draws on literature from community psychology and our lessons learned from field studies with historically marginalized Latinx communities to highlight six interrelated tensions that are important to address in psychological research from a decolonizing and liberatory lens. These interrelated tensions involve conflicting issues of (a) power, (b) competence, (c) practices and theories, (d) rationale, (e) approach, and (f) trust. In addition, seven practical recommendations and examples for decolonial and liberatory research practices are outlined. The recommendations can assist researchers in identifying ways to ameliorate and address the interrelated tensions to give way to decolonial and liberatory research practices. Community and social justice scientists have the responsibility to decommission oppressive research practices and engage in decolonization and liberation toward a valid, ethical, equitable, and inclusive psychological science.


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American Psychologist