Fahima Mohideen, a third-year graduate student in RU-N's Department of Psychology, recently won a prestigious grant from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) to examine motivations for social action in her native India.
Mohideen is one of four recipients of SPSSI’s 2021 Global South Grants, which support scientific research by doctoral students on social issues in the Global South and Majority World settings such as Africa, Latin America, Asia, and southern and eastern Europe. The other three recipients this round are female scholars from the University of Bristol (U.K.), Turkey’s Ministry of Education, and the University of Talca, in Chile.
“Graduate students commonly struggle with imposter syndrome, more so for women, people of color and those from minoritized communities,” said Mohideen, who as an international student is ineligible for many fellowships and funding opportunities. “Winning this award felt reassuring, that my work here has potential and matters.”
Mohideen, who arrived at RU-N in 2019, has long been interested in the intersection of social and positive psychology, focusing on well-being and positive outcomes in individual and social contexts, especially those of understudied populations. Her current work explores the social mobility among first-generation college students, and the role of meaning in life and well-being in collective action.
At RU-N Mohideen has been working in the Well-being Lab of Professor Samantha Heintzelman, a personality and social psychologist who studies the experience of meaning in life and subjective well-being, and in 2020 she won the Psychology department’s Teaching Assistant of the Year award.
My central question is whether happiness and concern for societal problems predicts social action in the context of ongoing socio-political unrest in India.
Prior to coming to RU-N, Fahima worked at Christ University, India, on a research project aimed at developing a positive schooling intervention for middle school students. She received an M.S. in Applied Psychology from Pondicherry University, India, where she conducted research on caste-based microaggressions among college students.
Mohideen’s current SPSSI-funded research, which will take place over the next year, aims to understand the relationship between happiness and engagement in social action in India. She says that social action plays a critical role in creating societal change and progressive societies, but there is little work examining how these actions relate to our well-being, especially in cross cultural contexts.
“My central question is whether happiness and concern for societal problems predicts social action in the context of ongoing socio-political unrest in India,” said Mohideen. “I think this work is timely given the recent spate of social movements in India, in response to discriminatory citizenship laws and controversial farm legislation. It’s part of a new line of work that I'm pursuing to further our scientific understanding of social action and well-being.”
SPSSI is an ideal partner to support Mohideen’s work.
An affiliated organization of the American Psychological Association, it was formed during the Great Depression to bring together a national group of socially minded psychologists to address social and economic issues. Based in Washington, D.C., the group publishes scholarly journals, books, newsletters and a blog; awards grants, honors and fellowships; puts forth policy papers and proposals based on member research; holds conferences; and offers resources for teachers and professors.
“I am grateful for SPSSI’s support and very happy that the group recognizes the need to diversify psychological research and support work being conducted within Global South populations,” said Mohideen.