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  • August 26, 2015 12:40 PM | Shannon Claxton

    See below from Michelle Wright, Ph.D.:

    I have learned of your research on emerging adults’ technology usage and I would like to invite you to submit a chapter to an upcoming book on this topic, published by IGI Global. This edited book is called: 

    Identity, Sexuality, and Relationships among Emerging Adults in the Digital Age

    The book will provide a new framework for understanding emerging adults and how they navigate developmental tasks and issues utilizing digital technologies. The book will synthesize the research on emerging adults’ digital technology usage and how these technologies hinder or help their identity development and formation, contribute to aggressive and prosocial behaviors, understand their sexuality, and benefits or harms their relationships with their parents, friends, and romantic partners. In places where the published research on a topic is missing, research from the face-to-face context can be used to provide a starting point for understanding the same topics as related to digital technologies. Gaps in the literature will be identified and future research will be proposed on these topics. Topics might include relationship with parents, friendships, love, romantic relationships, sexting, aggression, prosocial behavior, technology addiction, identity development and formation, and the self.

    The deadline for the chapter proposal is September 30, 2015 and for the completed chapter is January 15, 2016. Decisions on abstracts will be sent to authors by October 15, 2015. Please submit the abstract to: http://www.igi-global.com/publish/call-for-papers/call-details/1901.


    The book is expected to be finalized by August 1, 2016. If you have any questions about potential chapter ideas, please feel free to email the editor at michelle.wright@mail.muni.cz.

    I am looking forward to your hopeful response. If you know of others who might be interested in this chapter call, please feel free to share.



    Michelle Wright, Ph.D.

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Masaryk University

    Institute for Research on Children, Youth, and Family

    Faculty of Social Studies

    Joštova 10, 602 00 Brno, the Czech Republic

    Office Phone: +420 549 49 4259

    Email: michelle.wright@mail.muni.cz

    Website: http://ivdmr.fss.muni.cz/home

  • May 04, 2015 3:34 PM | Shannon Claxton

    Are you a young scholar or do you know of a young scholar who studies romantic relationships and sexuality through social media data? If so, please read on!

    We are organizing a pre-conference at the 7th Biennial Conference of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood (SSEA), Miami, Florida, October, 2015. The theme of the pre-conference is: Sex and Romance: Does the Relationship Matter? As part of this pre-conference, we will have a panel of young scholars (doctoral or post-doctoral level) who use cutting edge techniques in research on sexuality or romance in emerging adulthood. We would like one of the speakers to have expertise in collecting and analyzing data directly from social media sources (e.g., facebook, twitter, etc.). If you, or someone you know, fits this description, please contact us for more information. Thank you very much.


    Best regards,

    Rongqin Yu, Jennifer Connolly, Eva Lefkowitz, and Shannon Claxton

  • April 02, 2015 9:05 AM | Shannon Claxton

    As researchers, many of us work very hard to share our hard earned knowledge with students in the classroom. Unfortunately, it can often be challenging to translate the research we love so much into a presentation that students find interesting (especially when competing with the draw of the internet, apps, and texting). How many of you have spent precious time searching the internet for the perfect video, assignment, activity, etc. for your class? I have spent a lot of time doing just that, and for today’s blog post I wanted to compile a list of some of the resources I have discovered during those quests.  Although this list is by no means comprehensive, these are the resources I have found most helpful for teaching about sexuality and relationships. Some you may already be aware of, some you may not, but hopefully this list gives you a place to start the next time you want to find a way to bring research into the classroom in an engaging and interesting way.

    1. The Science of Relationships. If you don’t already know about this site you should!  It is packed full of information about romantic and sexual relationships (e.g., definitions of sex, bisexuality myths, and the 3rd date rule  just to name a few!). Based on research but written for lay understanding, it is a great source for videos, funny pictures, short articles, and general ideas about topics, and often includes references to popular media (e.g., this article about the marriage of Marge and Homer Simpson). They also have a special section devoted to teaching classes like intimate relationships and human sexuality, including ideas for writing assignments.
    2. Resources for the Teaching of Social Psychology – Attraction and Relationships. This site is maintained by Jon Mueller at North Central College and includes resources for teaching social psychology, including this section on attraction and relationships. It contains ideas for student activities and exercises, ideas for assignments as well as audio and video resources and examples of key concepts.
    3. BBC The Science of Love has information on the science of love including the science of flirting and the language of love (note this page is no longer updated).
    4. Psychology Today Relationships.  Contains posts about relationship related material as well as links to a number of great relationship blogs by prominent relationship researchers.
    5. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) has great resources regarding sex education.
    6. Both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College Health Association - National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) are great resources for stats around sexual health.

    In addition, here are some general teaching resources that include information on sexuality/romance:

    1. The Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Although some resources are for members only, this site has a number of teaching resources available to anyone, including sample syllabi and handouts and the Idea Exchange (ToPIX) which includes activities, lecture topics, video resources, songs,  and current events linked to topics (including gender/sexuality).
    2. Mypsychstuff blog. Includes links to youtube videos about a number of topics, including sexuality and romance
    3. The psychwiki.com example pages. These pages include short descriptions of several topics as well as examples from popular media.
    4. TED Talks  and TedED. TED includes a number of great talks and articles about sexuality. Take it one step further at TedED which allows you to build a lesson around any TED talk or youtube video. You can also use lessons created by others.
    5. APS teaching the science of psychology and the APS Video Archive. The APS offers a number of resources for teaching psychology, including an archive of videos.

    Do you have a favorite resource you don’t see on this list? Please share in the comments!

  • February 13, 2015 12:27 PM | Shannon Claxton

    February is a month in which sexuality and romance are particularly prominent. It seems like there are heart shaped boxes of candy, bouquets of red flowers, and Valentine’s Day cards everywhere you look. Thus, this month may be of particular interest to individuals studying sexuality during emerging adulthood. Despite this draw, there is relatively little research specifically focusing on this topic. There is research examining, for example, the types of gifts men and women want (perhaps not shockingly men want sex, women want jewelry), feelings regarding Valentine’s Day and its purpose, and evidence that relationships may be particularly unstable after Valentine’s Day.

    However, sexuality researchers could ask a number of additional questions about this holiday. For example, are singles more likely to engage in casual sex during this time period? Do rates of unprotected sex increase on Valentine’s Day compared to other days? And importantly, which Valentine’s Day card should you actually choose if you want to impress a potential partner?

    What additional questions could this romance based holiday help us answer?

  • December 17, 2014 5:11 PM | Shannon Claxton

    Dear SSEA Sexuality Topic Network (TN) members,

    We hope you are as excited as we are for plans for the next Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood meeting in Miami. Submissions will be due March 1, and we know that many people are starting to think about what they might present. As Sexuality TN chairs, we wanted to help to facilitate putting together symposia related to sexuality, to increase the visibility of sexuality research at SSEA in 2015. We believe that working together across the entire Sexuality TN will increase the diversity of each symposium, opening up more opportunities for symposia that represent diverse labs, samples, populations, and disciplines. 

    If you are interested in submitting a paper as part of a symposium related to sexuality and would like to connect with other authors, please, no later than January 15, send me an email at sclaxton@kent.edu with the following information:

    • ​A short (no more than a paragraph) blurb describing what your talk would be, including whether you have finalized your analyses yet (if you already have 2 or more talks from different authors that you  plan to put in the same symposium, but need 1 or more additional talks, you can describe each talk separately).
    • ​Whether you would consider a discussant role instead of (or in addition to) giving an empirical talk.
    • ​Whether you are looking for a group for one of the other, non-symposium group formats (discussion session, debate).
    • ​Your interest in organizing/chairing the symposium (1 = prefer not to organize/chair; 2 = fine either way; 3 = prefer to organize/chair).  

    ​We will then work to group talks into coherent symposia based on topics and do our best to group across labs/disciplines/diverse populations etc. Please note a couple of things. First, we are doing this process independent of the conference committee – sending us a blurb does not in any way guarantee or increase your chance of acceptance to the conference. In addition, because we are experimenting with this process for the first time, we do not have a good sense of how many submissions we will get, and therefore we cannot guarantee that we will find perfect matches, or matches at all, for any given proposed talk. 

    Our goal would be to look at all proposed talks and have a quick turnaround time (about a week). Thus people should have enough time to organize symposia, or to find an alternative if we were unable to find a group for them.

    Finally, if you have any other ideas of ways that the Sexuality TN can support you or help connect scholars, don’t hesitate to let us know. 

    Thanks everyone, and have a great holiday season, whatever you may celebrate.


    Shannon Claxton & Eva Lefkowitz

    SSEA Sexuality TN Chairs

    Shannon Claxton
    van Dulmen Lab-Kent Hall 345
    Doctoral Candidate
    Experimental Psychology
    Kent State University
  • December 02, 2014 12:57 PM | Shannon Claxton

    This past Thursday while waiting for my post-Thanksgiving stupor to wear off, I spent some time thinking about the things for which I am grateful, including (in no particular order), mashed potatoes, my family, and Thanksgiving Pants. During this time, my thoughts turned to research, and I realized that I have a lot to be thankful for in this area of my life as well. In light of research suggesting that gratitude is linked to positive health outcomes (see for example Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010), I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you!

    1. Online data collection. Although there are downsides, collecting data using a computer is in many ways faster, easier, and better for the environment than paper-and-pencil data collection.
    2. Interesting research innovations. For example, non-intrusive Blood Alcohol Content monitors, Electronically Activated Recorders (EAR) (see Mehl et al., 2001), Actiwatches, and Smartphones (see Miller, 2012) open up new possibilities for research.
    3. The fact that the 7th Conference on Emerging Adulthood will be in Miami next October. Besides being a great conference and an opportunity to discuss research on emerging adulthood, any excuse to visit Florida during the fall is welcome (especially given that I am currently looking out my window at a cold and snowy day)!

    What are you thankful for? Share your thoughts in the comment section J

  • November 14, 2014 9:45 AM | Shannon Claxton

    Having sexual intercourse without a condom, having more than one sexual partner, engaging in sex at an early age – all of these behaviors have been called “risky sexual behaviors” by researchers. But how do we actually know when a behavior is “risky?” Determining whether a behavior is risky is not as clear cut as simply categorizing behaviors into risky and not. Consider sex without a condom, often referred to as unprotected sex. This same “risky” behavior is considered normative when a couple wishes to conceive a child. In addition, in monogamous committed couples, where both partners are STI-free and want to avoid pregnancy, oral contraception is a more reliable contraceptive choice than condoms. Thus, our definition of risky behavior is somewhat subjective and may depend, at least to some degree, on the individuals’ intentions within their relationship or on the nature of the relationship itself.

    The situation becomes even more complicated when you look at behaviors such as casual sex. Is casual sex inherently risky? How does alcohol use influence whether casual sex is considered risky? What about casual sex with a friend -- is it less risky than causal sex with a stranger? Is only unprotected casual sex risky, or are there aspects of casual sex that make it generally riskier than sex within a committed relationship?

    Furthermore, what do we, as researchers, actually mean when we say a behavior is risky? Generally the label risky sexual behavior denotes that a sexual behavior could lead to negative physical outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy. But should we consider potential negative mental health outcomes when we decide if a behavior is risky? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do think it is important for researchers to be clear what they mean by “risky sexual behavior” and to understand that this concept can be inherently difficulty to operationalize.

    Additionally, moving away from this framework (i.e., labeling behavior as risky or not) may be an important step for research and allow for a deeper understanding of sexuality. For example, researchers have suggested shifting our conceptualization of adolescent sexual behaviors from a risk perspective to a focus on the potential negative and positive outcomes of the behaviors (e.g., Lefkowitz & Vasilenko, 2014; Vasilenko, Lefkowitz, & Welsh, 2014). Similarly, Harden (2014) recently proposed a framework for viewing adolescent sexuality as a positive and developmentally normative behavior, rather than focusing on sexual behavior in adolescence as fundamentally risky. Perhaps we should extend these ideas to sexuality during emerging adulthood and view emerging adults’ sexual behavior as having both positive and negative outcomes, rather than working to classify these behaviors as “risky.”

    What do you think? Is the term risky sexual behavior too difficult to define, or is it useful for researchers focusing on sexuality during emerging adulthood? What other perspectives could be helpful for understanding sexual behavior during this time period?

  • October 30, 2014 10:40 AM | Shannon Claxton

    Halloween is tomorrow, which means an onslaught of witches, goblins, and Frozen costumes (not to mention dogs dressed up as superheroes) is right around the corner. The idea of Halloween generally conjures up images of candy corn, jack-o-lanterns, haunted houses, and ghosts. One thing that may not come to mind when you think of Halloween is research. However, behaviors around Halloween can provide helpful insight for researchers.  

    Halloween is a particularly sexualized holiday, which makes it an interesting holiday for researchers interested in sexuality. One look at this list of unnecessarily sexy Halloween costumes reveals that many Halloween costumes (for females in particular) are designed to be more racy than scary. Furthermore, past years suggest that Halloween celebrations often involve individuals consuming large amounts of alcohol and partying hard

    Research supports these characterizations.  Research has found links between dressing in costume and alcohol use (Miller, Jasper, & Hill, 1993). Additionally, field studies suggest associations between celebrating Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day and higher levels of intoxication (e.g., Glindemann, Wiegand, & Geller, 2007). In this study, those wearing a costume for Halloween had higher BAC levels than individuals not in costume, and individuals who reported a celebratory motive on St. Patrick’s Day (i.e., that they were out to celebrate St. Patrick’s day or another occasion such as a birthday) had higher BAC levels than individuals who were not out celebrating. Others have found associations between student-constructed holidays and alcohol use and crime rates (e.g., Lefkowitz et al., 2012).

    In view of these findings, Halloween (and other high alcohol consumption holidays or celebrations) may be a particularly interesting time to collect data. In particular, given potentially higher rates of alcohol use and sexual behavior, Halloween may provide information about behaviors that have lower base rates (e.g., casual sex). For example, in the Interpersonal Relationships and Developmental Psychopathology lab at Kent State University we have used the days surrounding Halloween to collect data using a daily-diary format. Specifically, we have collected data about affect, casual sexual behavior, alcohol use, and, yes, even costume choice. This type of event-based data collection allows us to examine how costume choice is associated with sexual behavior. Additionally, we are able to examine individuals’ more immediate responses to casual sexual relationships/ experiences. 

    Although less research has addressed them to date, there are likely other holidays and events that are associated with elevated levels of drinking and sexual behavior, such as New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Overall, data collection around holidays/celebrations can provide information that may not be as easily gleaned during the rest of the year.

    What do you think? Does the idea of data collection on Halloween sound like a real treat or is it hair raising? 

  • October 23, 2014 2:40 PM | Shannon Claxton

    Anthony B. Walker, Ph.D (Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Indiana State University) would like to share the following information about a conference he is organizing entitled Strange Bedfellows?: Religion, Sex and Relationships in College. The conference will be held at Indiana State University on November 3rd and may be of particular interest to the members of the Sexuality Topic Network.

    Dr. Walker would like to invite anyone in the area to join in the conversation. The event will include international and national experts on the topic and an afternoon panel that includes local experts as well as campus and faith-community members. See attachment for more information! 

  • October 14, 2014 4:56 PM | Shannon Claxton

    Research on sexuality during emerging adulthood is often characterized by samples of college students. Although in many cases these samples are appropriate (college is an important aspect of the lives of many emerging adults), reliance on college samples can also be problematic. The use of college samples poses potential problems for generalizability. Many emerging adults do not attend college, and the college environment has a number of unique aspects that make it different from the “the real world.” I’m certainly not the first to mention the potential issues with using convenience samples of college students, and I’m not going to debate the limitations here (see Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010; and Peterson, 2001 for discussions).

    My purpose, rather, is to discuss one of the alternative techniques researchers are using to recruit from different populations. In particular, a number of researchers have turned to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (Mturk) and other online data collection sources to obtain data from non-college samples of emerging adults. I have collected data from Mturk for a number of research projects, and it can be wonderful – instead of taking months or even years to collect data, it is possible to collect data from hundreds of individuals in a few days. Furthermore, it’s relatively inexpensive to collect data on Mturk (average payments for surveys run less than $1 - Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling, 2011).

    Although the ease of online data collection makes it appealing, one may question the representativeness of these samples. Are emerging adults who take surveys for minimal pay different from other emerging adults? Research so far suggests that these samples are more representative of the U.S. population than typical college samples (e.g., Paolacci, Chandler & Ipeirotis, 2010 ) and that results obtained on Mturk are similar to results from in-person studies (e.g., Casler, Bickel, & Hackett, 2013). However, collecting data without ever seeing participants can be disconcerting. Are these participants really who they say they are? How can researchers be sure that participants are answering truthfully? While validity is important for any type of data collection, one wonders if anonymous, online data collection methods such as Mturk lead participants to be more honest about sensitive topics such as sexuality or if the feeling of anonymity creates additional opportunities for lying/misrepresentation.

    What do you think? – Is online data collection a good way to tap into a more diverse population? What other options are out there? What techniques have you used – and were they effective?  What have you done in your research to make sure that data from online sources is reliable? Do you see additional pros/cons of these data collection methods? Share your experiences in the comments!

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