Skip to main content

Esther Burson

Assistant Professor of Psychology


I am an applied developmental psychologist who uses qualitative and quantitative methods to explore themes of intersectionality and solidarity. My research investigates (1) how adolescents form attitudes about social, political, and economic inequality and (2) how these positions affect well-being and intergroup attitudes among young people with historically marginalized racial/ethnic and sexual/gender identities. I draw on theories of developmental, social, and community psychology to frame these questions. 

Before coming to Smith, I completed a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, followed by a two-year postdoctoral position in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research at Cornell University. In this role I led a research-practice partnership with a national youth service organization to explore how national service affects community engagement and intergroup attitudes among program alumni. 

At Smith I teach courses in Adolescent Development, Research Methods, and youth understandings of inequality and social change.


Selected Publications

Burson, E., & Godfrey, E.B., Ibrahim, D.A., & Brown, R.M (2023). Structural and historical attributions in critical reflection. In L.J. Rapa and & E.B. Godfrey (Eds.), Critical consciousness: Expanding theory and measurement. Cambridge University Press.

Burson, E., & Godfrey, E.B. (2020). Intraminority solidarity: The role of critical consciousness. European Journal of Social Psychology, 50(6), 1362-1377.

Godfrey, E. B., Burson, E., Yanisch, T.M., Hughes, D., & Way, N. (2019).  A bitter pill to swallow? Patterns of critical consciousness and socioemotional and academic well-being in early adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 55(3), 525-537.

Godfrey, E. B. & Burson, E. (2018). Interrogating the intersections: How intersectional perspectives can inform developmental research on critical consciousness. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 2018(161), 17-38.

Burson, E., & Godfrey, E.B (2018). The State of the Union: Contemporary interminority attitudes in the United States. Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 40(6), 396-413.