My research interest revolves around four areas about which I am deeply passionate: identity, motivation, achievement, and group difference—the last of which includes topics related to race, social justice, equality, stigma, inter and intra-group relations. I am interested in how those areas interact with each other and the powerful research questions that come from such interactions. For example, what is the relationship between mindset inclinations and instances of successful rehabilitation in the juvenile detention system? What parts of our identity do we unknowingly conceal and express as a function of our social standing? To what extent does the internalization of growth mindset practices help decelerate collective as well as individual transgressive behavior?

In a Lewinian fashion, I am equally interested in theory-based interventions that can help alleviate pressing societal issues. The populations most dear to my heart are children and adolescents in the school system and adolescents in the juvenile detention system—especially subpopulations who are stigmatized in terms of deviation of personal traits and in terms of deviation of tribalized traits such as race and ethnicity. I am also interested in building theory and devising interventions for the population that Harvard cultural sociologist Orlando Patterson calls “the disconnected,”—youth who are out of school and unemployed—who are often excluded from procedural, evaluative, and declarative social networks of mobility. I want to better understand the role that identity, race, and stigma play in motivation in diverse institutional contexts. As much as I am committed to social psychology, I am also committed to education. I find home in the cross-fertilization of ideas from different fields.

I am very grateful to have such fruitful relationship with Harvard University. I direct the Artificial Intelligence, Brain, and Cognitive Sciences thematic within The Future Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (link), facilitate senior thesis workshops with groups of bright and dedicated Mind, Brain, Behavior Harvard College seniors (link), work as a Co-Instructor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a Spring course on technology, learning, and motivation theory (link), and as a Teaching Fellow for a Fall course on the introduction of statistics for research (link), and for a Spring and Fall course on financial management for non-profit organizations (link). I also facilitate different programs at Harvard like the Family Engagement in Education: Creating Effective Home and School Partnerships for Student Success and the Management Development Program. I have worked at the Phillips Brooks House as Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Dean and temporary Department Administrator and have also worked as a research assistant in the laboratory of Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology Daniel Gilbert, assisting post-doctoral fellow Bethany Burum in research related to future self-perception, inter-temporal altruism, and novel information sharing. I in addition to having worked in research, teaching, and administration, I have also worked in business, for-profit and non-profit, as an entrepreneur.

I have been fortunate to have won awards such as the Harvard University Leadership in Education Award and the Coca-Cola Foundation and the USA Today New Century Scholar Award. As a Magellan and Walker Institute Scholar, I travelled to the Amazon, Brazil, in order to assist the Anna Frank House with measuring the changes in leadership dispositions of students as they became peer guides in the Anna Frank traveling exhibits. I love volunteering and mentoring. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Central Midlands Council of Governments, tutor pro-bono, and volunteer at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and in different youth organizations. I attended Midlands Technical College before attaining a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Economics with high honors and special distinction in research from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina and a Master’s degree in the interdisciplinary Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

In my free time, I enjoy reading philosophy, poetry, classical studies in social, developmental, and cognitive psychology and neuroscience, fiction, and non-fiction. I also love reading, and often getting wonderful ideas from, academic work from fields like evolutionary biology and physics. My favorite poets are Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Drummond De Andrade, Fernando Pessoa, T. S. Eliot, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson, and Wallace Stevens. I also enjoy having deep conversations with friends, volunteering, attending church, cycling, running, playing soccer, taking the time to think, listening to music, playing chess, and writing.

Contact me at pedro_de_abreu@mail.harvard.edu

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