Faculty Name

Shani Harris, Ph.D.


Associate Professor





Office Location

Giles Hall 105


Ph.D, Duke University
MA, Duke University
BA, Spelman College

Courses Taught

PSY 423: Health Psychology

PSY 306: Developmental Psychology

PSY 200B: Risky Behaviors (HIV/AIDS)

PSY 201/202: Introduction to Psychological Science

PSY 308: Honors Seminar

PSY 491/492: Honors Thesis Research

ECON/PSY/BIO: AIDS: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (in development)

Research Interests

Identifying psychosocial and contextual factors related to sexual risk taking, and discerning their association with HIV incidence among African-American adolescent girls; examining the presence the sexual stereotypes in media, and exploring its impact on physiological responsiveness, sexual development and expression; and developing novel media-based interventions based on entertainment-education strategies to promote sexual health.

Dr. Harris is the director of the Sexual Health and Media Lab at Spelman College. Her work focuses on developing and implementing entertainment-education based HIV interventions and examining the relation between exposure to media, brain and physiological responsiveness, and sexual attitudes and behaviors. More broadly, the SHM Lab examines media’s impact on sexual expression and risk in adolescents and adults. 

Current projects include the development of an E-E serial video intervention and identifying the physiological effect of exposure to stereotypical sexual imagery in music videos and its impact on sexual attitudes and behaviors in men and women. Dr. Harris is the former Chair of the Feminist Media Task Force, an initiative of the American Psychological Associations’ Society for the Psychology of Women. As chair, she developed the popular blog - FemPop: Feminist Perspectives of Popular Culture (

Dr. Harris completed a NIH-IRACDA fellowship at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, the W.K. Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2003, she received her doctorate from Duke University in the area of Clinical Psychology and received her B.A. from Spelman College in 1997.


Holmes, M., Harris, S., Bass, R. & Whitfield, L. (2012). Leveraging HIV in curricular innovation at Spelman College. Network: A Journal of Faculty Development. 

Peterson, S.H. (2010). Instructor’s Manual. In Lilienfeld, S.O., Lynn, S. J., Namy, L.L., & Woolf, N.J.’s Psychology: A Framework for Understanding. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Cunningham, S. & Harris Peterson, S. (2010, Spring). Brain activation and physiological responsiveness to sexual stereotypes in music videos and its association with sexual attitudes and behaviors, MBRS-RISE Journal of Undergraduate Research, 5, 10-15.

Wingood, G.M., Reddy, P., Peterson, S.H., DiClemente, R.J., Nogoduka, C., Braxton, N. & Mbewu, T. (2008). HIV Stigma and Mental Health Status among Women Living with HIV in the Western Cape, South Africa, South African Journal of Science, 104 (5), 237-240.

Peterson, S.H., Wingood, G.M., DiClemente, R.J., Harrington, K., & Davies, S. (2007). Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African-American Female Adolescents. Journal of Women’s Health, 16(8), 1157-1164. 

Peterson, S. H. (2006). The importance of fathers: contextualizing sexual risk taking in “low risk” African American adolescent girls. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13(3), 67-83.