Moin Syed

Photo of Moin Syed

Contact Me

Dept of Psychology
N218 Elliott Hall

75 E River Rd

****Attention! Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year I will no longer advise new graduate students through the Counseling Psychology program. Students interested in working with me should apply to the Personality, Individual Differences, and Behavior Genetics program.


I am a developmental psychologist who is broadly interested in how adolescents and young adults from diverse ethnic, racial, and cultural backgrounds weave together their multiple identities to lead healthy, productive, and purposeful lives. Methodologically, I characterize my work as a mixed-methods program of research, meaning that I use qualitative methods, quantitative methods, or various syntheses of the two depending on the research question. My current research is focused on ethnic identity development along three inter-related lines:

1) Developmental trajectories, precursors, and sequelae of ethnic identity processes. This line of research focuses on developmental patterns and correlates of ethnic identity, including variations by social location, geographical region, institutional context, or relationships with friends and families.

2) Narratives of ethnicity-related experiences. My work on narratives (i.e., stories) has mostly focused on documenting how they function as dynamic representations of ethnic identity development grounded in individuals’ lived experiences. My interest in narrative, however, extends to how narrative serves as a metaphor for not only individual psychologies, but also the psychologies of social groups and societies. Current work to this end examines how culturally-available master narratives inform the process of retelling past experiences and the process of telling stories in conversation with others.

3) How ethnic identity is associated with, and inextricably linked to, development in other important identity domains such as social class, gender, education and occupation, spirituality, and political ideology. My primary interest in this area is how theory and research on ethnic identity might be useful to understand the educational experiences of under-represented ethnic minority students (high school through graduate school), particularly those interested in majors/careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • M.A.: San Francisco State University.
  • B.A.: San Francisco State University.
Courses Taught
  • PSY 1905: The Cultural Psychology of Storytelling
  • PSY 3960: Careers in Psychology
  • PSY 5993: Directed Research - Narrative, Identity, Culture, and Education (NICE) Lab
  • PSY 8541: Multicultural Psychology
  • PSY 8960: Developmental Psychology: Individual and Cultural Influences
  • PSY 8960: Teaching of Psychology
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Editor-in-Chief, Emerging Adulthood: 2016 - 2021
  • Governing Council, Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood: 2013 - 2017
  • President-elect, Society for Research on Identity Formation: 2015 - 2017
  • McLean, K. C., Syed, M., Greenhoot, A., Yoder, A. (in press). The role of domain content in understanding identity development processes.. Journal of Research on Adolescence,
  • Mitchell, L. L., & Syed, M. (in press). Does college matter for emerging adulthood? Comparing developmental trajectories of educational groups. Journal of Youth and Adolescence,
  • Syed, M. (in press). Emerging adulthood: Theory, developmental stage, or nonsense? In J. J. Arnett (Ed.),. The Oxford handbook of emerging adulthood., New York: Oxford University Press.,
  • Syed, M., & McLean, K. C. (in press). Understanding identity integration: Theoretical, methodological, and applied issues.. Journal of Adolescence,
  • Hirai, R., Frazier, P. F., & Syed, M. (2015). Psychological and sociocultural adjustment of international students: Trajectories and predictors. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62, 438-452.
  • McLean, K. C., & Syed, M. (Eds.) (2015). The Oxford handbook of identity development, New York: Oxford University Press.,
  • Syed, M. (2015). Theoretical and methodological contributions of narrative psychology to ethnic identity research. In C. Santos & A. J. Umaña-Taylor (Eds.). Studying ethnic identity: Methodological advances and considerations for future research. , Washington, DC: American Psychological Association,
  • Syed, M., & Nelson, S. C. (2015). Guidelines for establishing reliability when coding narrative data. Emerging Adulthood, 3, 375-387.
  • Ajayi, A., & Syed, M. (2014). Links between patterns of racial socialization and discrimination experiences and psychological adjustment: A cluster analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 1011-1020.
  • Rivas-Drake, D., Syed, M., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Markstrom, C., French, S., Schwartz, S. J., Lee, R. M., & Ethnic and Racial Identity Study Group (2014). Feeling good, happy, and proud: A meta-analysis of positive ethnic-racial affect and adjustment. Child Development, 85, 77-102.
  • Syed, M., & Juang, L. P. (2014). Ethnic identity, identity coherence, and psychological functioning: Testing basic assumptions of the developmental model. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology , 20, 176-190.
  • Syed, M. (2013). Assessment of ethnic identity and acculturation. In K. Geisinger (Ed.) . APA handbook of testing and assessment in psychology , Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 393-405.
  • Syed, M., & Mitchell, L. L. (2013). Race, ethnicity, and emerging adulthood: Retrospect and prospects. Emerging Adulthood, 1, 83-95.
  • Syed, M., Walker, L. H. M., Lee, R. M., Umaña-Taylor, A. J., Zamboanga, B. L., Schwartz, S. J., Armenta, B. E., & Huynh, Q.-L. (2013). A two-factor model of ethnic identity exploration: Implications for identity coherence and well-being. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 19, 143-154.
  • Syed, M., Goza, B. K., Chemers, M. M., & Zurbriggen, E. (2012). Individual differences in preferences for matched-ethnic mentors among high-achieving ethnically-diverse adolescents in STEM. Child Development, 83(3), 896-910.
  • Syed, M., & Juan, M. J. D. (2012). Discrimination and psychological distress: Examining the moderating role of social context in a nationally representative sample of Asian American adults. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 3, 104-120.
  • Syed, M., & Chemers, M. M. (Eds.). (2011). Scaling the higher education pyramid: Academic and career success of minorities and women in science and engineering. Journal of Social Issues, 67(3),
  • Syed, M. (2010). Developing an integrated self: Academic and ethnic identities among ethnically-diverse college students. Developmental Psychology, 46(6), 1590-1604.
  • Syed, M., & Azmitia, M. (2010). Narrative and ethnic identity exploration: A longitudinal account of emerging adults' ethnicity-related experiences. Developmental Psychology, 46(1), 208-219.
  • Syed, M., & Azmitia, M. (2009). Longitudinal trajectories of ethnic identity during the college years. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 19(4), 601-624.
  • Azmitia, M., Syed, M., & Radmacher, K. A. (Eds.). (2008). The intersections of personal and social identities. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 120,
  • Syed, M., & Azmitia, M. (2008). A narrative approach to ethnic identity in emerging adulthood: Bringing life to the identity status model. Developmental Psychology, 44(4), 1012-1027.
  • Syed, M., Azmitia, M., & Phinney, J. S. (2007). Stability and change in ethnic identity among Latino emerging adults in two contexts. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 7(2), 155-178.
  • Arthur "Red" Motley Exemplary Teaching Award, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, 2014 - 2015
  • Best Paper Award, Asian American Journal of Psychology, 2012