STEM Shoutout: Dr. Elizabeth Yeater

UNM psychologist earns prestigious standing among the American Psychological Association

Dr. Elizabeth Yeater, an associate professor of psychology, has been elected president of Division 12, the division dedicated to clinical psychology of the American Psychological Association (APA). 


The APA is “the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, with more than 118,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students as its members,” according to their website.


Yeater’s research focuses on the cognitive and behavioral factors that increase women’s risk for sexual victimization. Her research helps to develop and evaluate interventions to prevent sexual violence against women. 


To do this, Yeater uses a Social Information Processing Model (SIP) and cognitive science methods to examine a women’s ability to detect and respond to risky situations. This research also explores whether aspects of alcohol use and sexual attitudes (i.e., sociosexuality, rape myth acceptance) influence these processes.


“The words of our leaders about women, how to behave with women, and how to treat other disadvantaged, marginalized populations matter. These words can either create a context that promotes violence or prevents it,” Yeater said in an email. 


Yeater’s research has been funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) since 2013. Yeater has also received two National Institutes of Health Exploratory / Developmental Research Grant Awards (R21s) and more recently, and a NIH Planning Grant Program award (R34). The R34 award will focus on Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) as it pertains to the development of an Ecological Momentary Intervention (EMI). This EMI, developed by Yeater, will deliver real-time personalized feedback to a woman’s cell phone about their level of risk for victimization and related adverse events.


“We need to do more, and we need to do better. It is my hope that my work will help women reduce their risk of sexual violence,” Yeater said. 


Yeater plans to use her recent presidential status within APA to focus more on diversity, intersectionality, and social justice in Division 12.


“I plan to survey members on Division 12’s performance in addressing these issues and in involving diverse members in leadership positions; highlight these issues in the newsletter, conference programming; and webinars; and generate guidelines for training culturally competent psychologists,” Yeater said. 


“As a graduate student in clinical psychology, I never dreamed I would become President of Division 12 or any other major association in psychology. In general, the people who have been Past Presidents of Division 12 have been very accomplished in their research area and overwhelming male,” Yeater said. “Few women have actually served as President of this section of APA; thus, I feel fortunate to be able to accept this role and hope that my leadership will encourage other women and racial/ethnic minorities to move into leadership positions within APA and related associations,” she said.