Cleopatra Abdou

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Cleopatra Miriam Abdou is a psychologist, author, and professor, best known for her work on health, human flourishing, and culture.

Cleopatra Miriam Abdou-Kamperveen is a psychologist, author, and professor, best known for her work on health, human flourishing, and culture. Abdou is an assistant professor in the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC).[1]

Life and career[edit]

Abdou was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Clearwater, Florida. She and her four siblings, including an identical twin sister, are the children of Coptic Egyptian immigrants. Abdou lost her mother, Miriam Abdou, at birth due to labor and delivery complications and poor medical care, leading Abdou to commit early in life to making health and human flourishing her life’s work.

Prior to joining the faculty at USC, Abdou completed a postdoctoral fellowship in social epidemiology and population health as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of Michigan. Abdou received her Ph.D. in social and health psychology, minoring in quantitative psychology, from UCLA in 2008. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami in 2000 with a degree in psychology and art.

Abdou has spent almost two decades conducting interdisciplinary research on how individuals, families, communities, and other groups manage to be healthy, happy, and successful against the odds. She is the author of nearly two-dozen scientific articles and book chapters in the fields of psychology, public health, medicine, sociology, and aging.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Abdou served as an associate editor for the Handbook of Minority Aging1 published by Springer in 2013.

Abdou developed the Culture and Social Identity Health Theory2 and the related conceptual framework, Aging Before Birth and Beyond.2 With collaborator, Dr. Adam Fingerhut, Abdou was the first to develop experimental methods for applying the social psychological theory of stereotype threat to the public health problem of health disparities, empirically demonstrating that healthcare stereotype threat is an overlooked psychosocial barrier to healthcare utilization and, thus, good health.[10]

In 2014, Abdou conducted a study at the University of Southern California examining the role that stereotypes play in health disparities. The study identified and explained why women of color are less likely to use healthcare than White women and proposed some solutions. A paper about the study was published in the American Psychological Association journal, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology on July 2014.[1][10]


  1. ^ a b Perkins, Robert. "The role stereotypes play in health disparities". EmPower Magazine. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ Abdou, C.W.; Dominguez, T.P.; Myers, H.F. (2013). "Maternal familism predicts birthweight and ashthma symptoms by age three". Social Science & Medicine 76: 28–38. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.07.041. 
  3. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Hudson, D.; Jackson, J.S.; Kershaw, K.N.; Lee, H.; Mezuk, B. (2013). ""White box" epidemiology and the neurobiology of poor health behaviors: The Environmental Affordances Model". Society and Mental Health 3: 79–95. doi:10.1177/2156869313480892. 
  4. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Eaton, W.W.; Hudson, D.; Kershaw, K.N.; Lee, H.; Mezuk, B.; Rafferty, J.A.; Jackson, J.S. (2010). "Reconsidering the role of social disadvantage in physical and mental health: Stressful life events, health behaviors, race, and depression". American Journal of Epidemiology (172): 1238–1249. 
  5. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Campos, B.; Dunkel Schetter, C.; Glynn, L.M.; Hilmert, C.J.; Hobel, C.J.; Parker Dominguez, T.; Sandman, C.A. (2010). "Communalism predicts maternal affect, stress, and physiology better than ethnicity and SES". Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 16: 395–403. doi:10.1037/a0019808. 
  6. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Jackson, J.S.; Kershaw, K.N.; Mezuk, B.; Rafferty, J.A. (2010). "Socioeconomic position, health behaviors, and C-reactive protein: A moderated-mediation analysis". Health Psychology 29: 307–316. doi:10.1037/a0019286. 
  7. ^ Abdou, C.M; Dunkel Schetter, C.; Hobel, C.J.; Jones, F.; Jones, L.; Lu, M.C.; Rubinov, D.; Tsai, S. (2010). "Community perspectives: Mixed-methods investigation of culture, stress, resilience, and health". Ethnicity and Disease (20): 41–48. 
  8. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Campos, B.; Dunkel Schetter, C.; Glynn, L.; Hobel, C.J.; Sandman, C. (2008). "Familialism, social support, and stress: Positive implications for pregnant Latinas". Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology (14): 155–162. 
  9. ^ Abdou, C.M.; Dunkel Schetter, C.; Glynn, L.; Hilmert, C.J.; Hobel, C.J; Parker Dominguez, T.; Sandman, C. (2008). "Stress and blood pressure during pregnancy: Racial differences and associations with birthweight". Psychosomatic Medicine (70): 57–64. 
  10. ^ a b Abdou, C.M.; Fingerhut, A.W. (2014). "Stereotype threat among Black and White women in healthcare settings". Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 20: 316–323. doi:10.1037/a0036946. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Abdou, C. M. (2013). Aging before birth and beyond: Lifespan and intergenerational adaptation through positive resources. In K. E. Whitfield and T. Baker (Eds.) Handbook of Minority Aging. Springer Publishing: New York.

External links[edit]