Identity Formation, Dramaturgy of Race, Research Methods, Environmental Justice, Self-help


Sonja Peterson-Lewis is a social psychologist and associate professor in the Department of Africology and African American Studies. Her research interests are broad and include the dramaturgy of race and identify formation (i.e., how people create, define and respond to concepts such as “acting Black”  and “acting White”); the history of educational and other self-help efforts among southern Blacks, and the effects of environmental injustice on communities of color. She has supervised over 600 undergraduate and graduate research projects on a wide variety of topics and created two research methods games to help improve students' empirical research skills. In 1994, she founded the Temple Undergraduate Research Forum (TURF), now part of Temple’s Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity.  

Selected Publications

  • Peterson-Lewis, S. (2018). Designing questionnaires on emotionally charged social issues: Examining perceptions of accuser and the accused in sexual assault allegations. Sage Research Methods Case Studies Part II. DOI:
  • Peterson-Lewis, S. and Bratton, L.M. (2004). Perceptions of “acting Black” among Black teens: Implications of racial dramaturgy for academic and social achievement. The Urban Review, 36(2): 81–100. 
  • Peterson-Lewis, S. and Adams, A. (1990).  Television’s model of the quest for African consciousness:  A comparison with Cross’ empirical model of psychological nigrescence. Journal of Black Psychology, 16(2), 55-72.

Courses Taught 

  • AAS 0834 Representing Race
  • AAS 2218 Psychology of the African American Experience
  • AAS 2255 Introduction to Research Methods
  • AAS 8008 Ethnographic Methods