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My program of research focuses on interpersonal and sociocultural influences on mental health in adolescence and emerging adulthood (aged 11–24), with an emphasis on gender and sexuality. A clinical psychologist by training, I integrate developmental and social psychology theories and methods into my work. I joined the UD Clinical Science Program as an assistant professor in 2020, after three years as an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). I'm the director of UD's Teen and Young Adult Lab (TAYA Lab) in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
One line of my work focuses on identifying specific social media risk factors for adolescents' body image and mental health concerns. For example, I developed and tested the construct of appearance-related social media consciousness (ASMC), which reflects individuals' ongoing awareness of whether they might look attractive to a social media audience. I've found ASMC to be associated with adolescents' and young adults' depressive symptoms and disordered eating, above and beyond overall time on social media. I also developed the first body image-specific social media eye-tracking paradigm (“Funnel") with a pilot grant from the APA Div. 7 Early Career Grant in Developmental Psychology. Recently, in collaboration with my longtime collaborator Jackie Nesi (Brown University) and my graduate students Annie Maheux and Savannah Roberts, I proposed a developmental-sociocultural model of how and why the features of social media create the “perfect storm" for girls' body image concerns. I've recently applied for federal funding to test this theoretical model. Additionally, as a co-investigator on a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (PIs: Jen Silk, Cecile Ladouceur), I'm collaborating on a study that uses fMRI and ecological momentary assessment to understand social media predictors of adolescent girls' suicide risk.
A second line of my work focuses on the body image, mental health, and sexual behaviors of LGBTQ+ youth, as well as adolescent sexuality more broadly. With my longtime collaborator Laura Widman (North Carolina State University), I've conducted many studies focused on adolescents' sexuality and sexual behaviors. With colleagues at Pitt, I've developed methods for recruiting large nationwide online samples of LGBTQ+ adolescents. Our Gender Minority Youth Study included over 1,900 transgender adolescents, allowing us to examine a broad range of mental and behavioral health indicators (e.g., body image, disordered eating, depressive symptoms, suicidality, sexual behaviors), with a focus on understanding gender minority subgroups (e.g., transfeminine, transmasculine, nonbinary). I also recently conducted a quantitative and qualitative study of LGBTQ+ adolescents in treatment for bipolar disorder, funded by NIH via Pitt's Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
I'm excited to share two new directions for my program of research, as of 2021: (1) an increasing focus on intersectionality and (2) intervention development. With regard to intersectionality, I'm collaborating with Jioni Lewis (University of Maryland) to understand Black young women's experiences at the intersection of racism and sexism, as well as resilience, in the development of gendered racial identity, sexuality, and body image. I recently received UD's 2021 Women's Studies Faculty Research Award, which will fund our qualitative interviewing this fall, led by TAYA Lab Manager Brianna Ladd. With regard to intervention development, Brian Galla (Pitt School of Ed.) and I recently published the results of two school-based randomized controlled trials, demonstrating the efficacy of a brief values-alignment intervention for adolescent social media use. We are beginning to collaborate with other researchers to adapt and disseminate our intervention in schools. I'm also collaborating on the development of a social media-based intervention for rural LGBTQ+ youth experiencing suicidality, with researchers in Pitt's School of Medicine.
My strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) is evident in my work as a researcher, teacher, mentor, and departmental/university citizen. For example, as an out queer faculty member, I've started and led LGBTQ+ affinity groups within the Pitt and UD psychology departments, and I'm one of two faculty members on UD's university-wide PRIDE Caucus. And as a White antiracism ally, I consistently engage in critical self-reflection and antiracist training as I work toward improving the departmental and university climates for BIPOC students and staff.
To learn more about my team's work, please visit my lab website and my new Psychology Today blog.
Ph.D., University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (2016)
A.B., Brown University (2008)
PYSC445 - Adolescence
PSYC380 - Psychopathology
PSYC867 Social Influences in Adolescent Development
Choukas-Bradley, S., Nesi, J., Widman, L., & Galla, B. M. (2020). The Appearance-Related Social Media Consciousness Scale: Development and validation with adolescents. Body Image, 33: 164-174. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2020.02.017
†Salk, R. H., †Thoma, B. C., & †Choukas-Bradley, S. (in press). The Gender Minority Youth Study: Using social media recruitment to examine mental health disparities between cisgender and transgender adolescents. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
†First authorship for this paper is shared.
Choukas-Bradley, S. & Thoma, B. C. (in press). Mental health among LGBT youth. In W. I. Wong & D. VanderLaan (Eds.), Gender and Sexuality Development: Contemporary Theory and Research. New York: Springer.
Maheux, A. J., Evans, R., Widman, L., Nesi, J., Prinstein, M. J., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (2019). Popular peer norms and adolescent sexting behavior. Journal of Adolescence, 78: 62-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.12.002
Choukas-Bradley, S., Nesi, J., Widman, L., & Higgins, M. K. (2019). Camera-ready: Young women's appearance-related social media consciousness. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 8(4), 473-481. doi:http://dx.doi.org.pitt.idm.oclc.org/10.1037/ppm0000196
Stewart, J. L., Spivey, L. A., Widman, L., Choukas-Bradley, S., & Prinstein, M. J. (2019). Developmental patterns of sexual identity, romantic attraction, and sexual behavior among adolescents over three years. Journal of Adolescence, 77: 90-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2019.10.006
Choukas-Bradley, S., Nesi, J., Widman, L., & Noar, S. M. (2019). Examining the role of self-objectification and appearance expectations in young women's indoor tanning behavior. Sex Roles, 80: 52-62. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0913-9
Nesi, J., Choukas-Bradley, S., & Prinstein, M. J. (2018). Transformation of adolescent peer relations in the social media context: Part 1—A theoretical review and application to dyadic peer relationships. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 21: 267-294. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-018-0261-x
Choukas-Bradley, S., Giletta, M., Widman, L., Cohen, G. L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2014). Experimentally measured susceptibility to peer influence and adolescent sexual behavior trajectories: A preliminary study. Developmental Psychology, 50, 2221-2227. doi:10.1037/a0037300
Dr. Choukas-Bradley's ResearchGate Profile
*Indicates student/trainee author in Choukas-Bradley lab
**Indicates paper in press as of August 2021
Rezeppa, T. L., *Roberts, S. R., *Maheux, A. J., Choukas-Bradley, S., Salk, R. H., & Thoma, B. C. (in press**). Psychosocial correlates of body image and disordered eating among sexual minority adolescent girls. Body Image.
*Maheux, A. J., Nesi, J., Galla, B. M., *Roberts, S. R., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (in press**). #Grateful: Longitudinal associations between adolescents' social media use and gratitude during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Research on Adolescence.
†Giletta, M., †Choukas-Bradley, S., Maes, M., Linthicum, K. P., Card, N. A., & Prinstein, M. J. (in press**). A meta-analysis of longitudinal peer influence effects in childhood and adolescence. Psychological Bulletin. †First authorship for this manuscript is shared.
Hamilton, J. L., Nesi, J., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (in press**). Re-examining adolescent social media use and socioemotional well-being through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic: A theoretical review and directions for future research. Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Galla, B. M., Choukas-Bradley, S., Fiore, H. M., & Esposito, M. V. (in press**). Values-alignment messaging boosts adolescents' motivation to control social media use. Child Development.
Choukas-Bradley, S. & Thoma, B. C. (in press**). Mental health among LGBT youth. In W. I. Wong & D. VanderLaan (Eds.), Gender and Sexuality Development: Contemporary Theory and Research. New York: Springer.
Nesi, J., Choukas-Bradley, S., *Maheux, A. J., *Roberts, S. R., Sanzari, C., Widman, L., & Prinstein, M. J. (2021). Selfie appearance investment and peer feedback concern: Multimethod investigation of adolescent selfie practices and adjustment. Advance online publication. Psychology of Popular Media. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000342
Widman, L., Javidi, H., *Maheux, A. J., Evans, R., Nesi, J., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (2021). Sexual communication in the digital age: Adolescent sexual communication with parents and friends about sexting, pornography, and starting relationships online. Sexuality & Culture. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-021-09866-1
*Roberts, S. R., Salk, R. H., Thoma, B. C., *Romito, M., Levine, M. D., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (2021). Disparities in disordered eating between gender minority and cisgender adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23494
*Romito, M., Salk, R. H., *Roberts, S. R., Thoma, B. C., Levine, M. D., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (2021). Exploring transgender adolescents' body image concerns and disordered eating: Semi-structured interviews with nine gender minority youth. Body Image, 37: 50-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.01.008
*Maheux, A. J., *Roberts, S. R., Evans, R., Widman, L., & Choukas-Bradley, S. (2021). Associations between adolescents' pornography consumption and self-objectification, body comparison, and body shame. Body Image, 37, 89-93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2021.01.014
“Glow up, own up: Should we all be honest about photo filters?" (2021, July 9). By Rachel Moss, Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/norway-law-influencer-retouching-labels_uk_60e6c0e3e4b0f28cac98e7a6
“Why experts say Norway's retouched photo law won't help fight body image issues" (2021, July 8). By Allyson Chiu, The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/photo-edit-social-media-norway/2021/07/08/f30d59ca-df2c-11eb-ae31-6b7c5c34f0d6_story.html
“Social media likes and teenagers" (2021, July 8). The Lisa Show. Retrieved from https://www.byuradio.org/LVC-2021-07-08-Social-Media-Likes-and-Teenagers
“Will hiding likes on Instagram and Facebook improve users' mental health? We asked experts." By Allyson Chiu, The Washington Post (online and printed, May 28, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/likes-facebook-instagram-mental-health/2021/05/27/132073d0-be55-11eb-9c90-731aff7d9a0d_story.html
“Measuring the effect of social media on body image" (2020, June 2). Top of Mind with Julie Rose. Retrieved from http://www.byuradio.org/episode/6e5168ca-cf9a-4ca6-be84-95068613277b/top-of-mind-with-julie-rose-why-some-democracies-have-thrived-during-covid-19-avoid-afternoon-dr-appointments-nps-dive-team?playhead=5390&autoplay=true
“Talking with both daughters and sons about sex." (2017, January 11). New York Times. Retrieved from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/well/family/talking-about-sex-with-daughters-and-sons.html
“Alas, you do have to talk to your teen about sex." (2015, November 2). TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/4094495/alas-you-do-have-to-talk-to-your-teen-about-sex
“Sex, drugs, and pluralistic ignorance: Why smart groups do dumb things." The Atlantic. (2015, January 9). Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/01/sex-and-drugs-and-high-school-but-also-social-psychology/384339/
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