Benjamin Valen Receives Grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Benjamin Valen, a first-year social psychology Ph.D. candidate, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation-Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) for their research project, Outcomes of Affectionate Touch Among Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Couples: Effects of Gender Composition and Perceived Audience. Valen will investigate how perceived audience will impact the outcomes of perception and touch in couples, particularly how a perceived audience may impact the interactions between same-sex couples.
Valen studied psychology and art history at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida. After participating in research as an undergraduate researcher, Valen discovered a passion for psychology research, which was fostered by their psychology mentors Dr. Catherine Cottrell, associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Steven Graham, associate professor of psychology, both from New College of Florida. Valen joined the Department of Psychology’s social psychology Ph.D. program in 2021. They currently work with their advisor Dr. Sara Burke, assistant professor, as a researcher within the Intergroup Bias Lab.
Valen intends to use their research to understand how the stigma and prejudice, that couples belonging to sexual and gender minority groups face, impact the way that same-sex couples engage with one another. Valen hopes the findings from their research will help to normalize different relationships by shedding light on the implications of societal prejudice on LGBTQ couples.