Keisha Leanne Bentley-Edwards, PhD

Assistant Professor in Medicine
Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Email address

I am a developmental psychologist who uses a cultural lens to understand social, emotional and academic outcomes. My work specifically examines how race, culture and racism stress influence how the world responds to Black Americans and how this influences health and social disparities. I develop culturally cognizant measures, specifically in the areas of racial/ethnic socialization, racial cohesion and dissonance and same-race violence. As an interdisciplinary researcher, I examine the racial and societal contexts that influence health, coping and well-being in schools, communities and within families. I am also the Associate Director of Research and the Director of the Health Equity Working Group for the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

Areas of research include:

  • Racial/Cultural Determinants of Health & Educational Outcomes
  • African American Psychology
  • Race, Religion & Health
  • Using Cultural Strengths to Promote Resilience
  • Racism, Sexism & Discrimination
  • Unarmed Shootings of Black People/Police Brutality
  • Navigating Race and Racial Tensions
  • Racial Socialization
  • Culturally Relevant Assessment
  • Race & Ethnicity in Schools & Communities
  • Effects of At-Risk Neighborhoods on Youth 
  • Bullying 
  • Black Racial Cohesion & Dissonance
  • Black Women's Psychology & Mental Health
  • (Pre)school to Prison Pipeline-Disparate Disciplinary Practices
  • Exposure to Violence
  • Health Equity
  • Black Families
  • Racial Identity
  • Black Children, Adolescents & College Students

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2009
  • M.A., Columbia University, 2000


Thomas, D. E., S. I. Coard, H. C. Stevenson, K. Bentley, and P. Zamel. “Racial and emotional factors predicting teachers' perceptions of classroom behavioral maladjustment for urban African American male youth.” Psychology in the Schools 46, no. 2 (February 1, 2009): 184–96.

Full Text

Bentley, K., V. Adams, and H. Stevenson. “Racial socialization: Roots, processes, and outcomes.” In Handbook of African American Psychology, translated by H. Neville, B. Tynes, and S. Utsey, 255–67. SAGE Publications, 2008.


Robbins, Paul A., Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, Loneke T. Blackman Carr, Eugenia Conde, Richard Van Vliet, and William A. Darity. “Shades of Black: Gendered denominational variation in depression symptoms among Black Christians.” Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, n.d.

Full Text