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Sexual orientation disclosure among Latinx sexual minority high school and college youth: An interview with Zhenqiang Zhao

Adolescence is an important time of identity development and exploration. It is also a time of self-disclosure with regard to sexual orientation. Zhenqiang Zhao’s 2021 paper, Sexual orientation disclosure among Latinx sexual minority high school and college youth, examines how minority stressors might mediate the link between sexual orientation disclosure and elements of well-being, including depressive symptoms and self-esteem, in a sample of Latinx youth.

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Longitudinal Effects of the “Acting White” Accusation and Racial Identity Development among Black College Students: An interview with Dr. Myles Durkee

This #MustReadMonday, we are excited to feature a recent paper by Dr. Myles I. Durkee: Longitudinal Effects of the “Acting White” Accusation and Racial Identity Development among Black College Students. This article examines racial identity development among Black students making the transition from high school to college, addresses the implications of cultural invalidations (specifically, accusations of “acting White”), and provides policy recommendations for combatting the detrimental impacts of such cultural invalidations on college campuses.

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Socioeconomic Risk for Adolescent Cognitive Control and Emerging Risk-Taking Behaviors: An interview with Dr. Alexis Brieant

Studies suggest that adolescents’ cognitive development may be impacted by elements of socioeconomic status (SES) such as family income, educational attainment, and social status. Dr. Alexis Brieant’s 2020 paper, Socioeconomic Risk for Adolescent Cognitive Control and Emerging Risk-Taking Behaviors examines how SES might impact youths’ cognitive control and, subsequently, youths’ problem behaviors.

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The Role of Sense of Belonging and Family Structure in Adolescent Adjustment: An interview with Zoë Rejaän

Among adolescents, a strong sense of belonging seems to be linked to important psychological outcomes. However, parental divorce may impact adolescents’ sense of belonging not only within the family but within other social contexts as well.

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Reframing Adolescent Development: Identifying Communications Challenges and Opportunities

This #MustReadMonday, we are featuring an interview with Drs. Andrew C. Pool and Nat Kendall-Taylor on one of their recent articles: Reframing Adolescent Development: Identifying Communications Challenges and Opportunities. This article examines some of the public’s dominant ways of thinking that might pose barriers to an accurate understanding of adolescent development and offers suggestions for ways in which researchers could help dispel common misperceptions. Research on which the article was based was funded by the Funders for Adolescent Science Translation and conducted in partnership with the Center for the Developing Adolescent. 

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“How do Your Research Interests Align with Those of Our Faculty?” Identifying Research Interest Fit for Graduate School Applications

So, it’s time to prepare the personal statement for a research-heavy graduate school program (e.g., a Ph.D. or general/experimental Master’s) and you are faced with the daunting question: “How do your research interests align with those of our faculty?” Although some applicants may have their responses ready as if they have been preparing to put pen to paper all throughout their undergraduate studies, other applicants may have a harder time answering this question. Regardless of the ease with which one comes up with their response, the fit of the applicant’s research interests with the research agenda of their prospective mentor is key to getting accepted into—and succeeding in—graduate school. After all, mentors want to work with graduate students who are passionate about the field, at least in part because the collaboration will be more enjoyable, and the student will be more motivated and successful, when the topic is of inherent interest. For those who could use some guidance in figuring out their area of interest, below I review what constitutes a “research interest”, some reasons why the research interest fit is so important in graduate school applications, and some suggestions for how to identify research interest fit in the personal statement.

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Protecting Adolescents from Emotional Maladjustment during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Adolescents’ Coping and Parents’ Reactions to Adolescents’ Negative Emotions

During the COVID-19 pandemic, adolescents may encounter various stressful events (e.g., compulsory quarantine, changes in modes of learning during school closure, and increased conflicts with family members during home confinement), which may lead to their emotional maladjustment. This research by Shi and Wang (2021) examined adolescents’ own ways of coping with pandemic-related stress, and how their parents’ ways of reacting to their negative emotions may help protect adolescents from experiencing negative emotions, depression, and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

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Can Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey call me Doctor Birdie?

Because professors litter lectures with curated pop culture references and stale dad-jokes, my job requires versing myself with DC and MCU and it has nothing to do with Thor’s biceps. So, for work, I binged the latest animated incarnation of Harley Quinn: a brilliant exploration where HQ severs her identity as joker’s girlfriend, yet struggles to be taken seriously because she’s a girl.  Love the feminism, but come on: give the emancipated anti-hero her academic accolades! Dr. Harley Quinzel, PhD from Gotham University in Psychology (or MD since she practices psychiatry?  Batman should check her credentials).

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Understanding Factors Associated with Intimate Disclosure Between Black Youth and Non-Parental Familial Adults

This #MustReadMonday, we are excited to highlight a recent paper by Ariana Rivens: Understanding Factors Associated with Intimate Disclosure Between Black Youth and Non-Parental Familial Adults. This article examines youth intimate disclosure to non-parental adult relatives among Black youth and outlines implications for adults looking to support Black youths’ disclosure.

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Promoting Interdisciplinarity at SRA

By Lindsay Till Hoyt, on behalf of the SRA Interdisciplinary Committee

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How valuable is the parent-child relationship in protecting adolescents from the mental health impact of COVID-19?

We can all agree: the spread of COVID-19 was, and still is, a huge threat to our physical health. More and more people worldwide have also started to warn about its possible negative impact on our mental health. Adolescents, in particular, could be very vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures imposed, given their age and developmental tasks. Yet, it is only now that the first studies on the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of adolescents are appearing.

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Eight Lessons for Academic Life Gleaned From Exercise

As an academic, it’s no surprise that I have great childhood memories of being ensconced in a big chair reading a book I couldn’t put down. Perhaps less predictable is that I gained as much joy from being physically active. I have many happy childhood memories of playing hopscotch, kickball, tag, or spud; of bike riding or ice skating on the local pond. Fast forward a few decades, and exercise remains critical to my self-care, my sanity. When I step onto the trail or dip into the pool, I am still the academic, and I find myself pondering lessons I’ve learned from my experience with physical activity that apply to the academic life. 

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Benefits of Bullying? A Test of the Evolutionary Hypothesis in Three Cohorts

For this week’s #MustReadMonday, we are excited to highlight a recent (in press) paper by Dr. Tina Kretschmer: Benefits of Bullying? A Test of the Evolutionary Hypothesis in Three Cohorts. This article examines adult outcomes of adolescent bullying perpetration from an evolutionary perspective—be on the lookout for an update with the link to the full article coming soon!

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Predicting Emotion Changes during COVID-19: A Daily Diary Study in Youth

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the mental health of children and adolescents. Identifying the predictors of emotional response to the pandemic is critical for prevention and intervention efforts. Given that the period of adolescence is characterized by high sensitivity to stress, teenagers may be especially sensitive to pandemic-related challenges.

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When Britney Spears Leaves my Lab

Recently, #freebritney, a social media movement protesting the rockstar’s Overprotected conservatorship became quite the Circus as Britney Spears revealed to the world that she is more than a broken celebrity or wounded tabloid victim.  Fans unearthed a satirical gem where the Womanizer singer found herself the Femme Fatale of scientific scrutiny. The esteemed journal Nature published “When Britney Spears Comes to My Lab” in early 2008 when Britney Spears was navigating and ultimately overcoming a heavily publicized mental health crisis.

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Discussing Adolescence: Where Do Video Discussion Assignments Fit?

A common classroom scenario: the instructor poses a question for discussion, followed by uncomfortable silence. No one wants to be the first to engage. Use of message boards for discussion, which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, appears—from my experience anyway—to face a similar problem, with students generally seeming to submit only the minimum number of replies required per the course syllabus. Some instructors have taken advantage of the technological advances available to today’s online learning environment and incorporated video options into their discussion assignments. Such options may show promise in increasing student engagement. While it might be too early to conclude that video-based discussions are more successful than their text-based counterparts in maintaining student engagement, my experience as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a course on Adolescent Development at the University of Texas at El Paso has led me to believe that video boards could be a helpful alternative (or supplement) to traditional text-based message board discussions.

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Slow life history strategies and increases in externalizing and internalizing problems during the COVID-19 pandemic

The ongoing COVID pandemic has had a psychological impact on people of all ages, including adolescents. Although the devastation wrought by COVID appears unprecedented, disease pandemics have recurred throughout human history. Any attempts to mitigate the psychological impact of the current pandemic should reflect the understanding that humans have evolved coping strategies shaped by evolutionarily recurrent adversities, including infectious diseases. Coping with environmental adversities requires coordination between physiological and psychological systems. These regulatory responses are known as fast and slow life history tradeoff strategies.

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Underrepresented Voices: Positive Youth Development among Roma and Egyptian Youth in Times of Pandemic

COVID-19 is disrupting youth development globally. Ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately exposed to the virus and affected by the pandemic due to systemic social and economic disparities. Yet, there is a lack of research on how at-risk minority youth are coping with the present pandemic to shed light on the developmental assets that can boost their positive development during these uncertain times.

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Religious Support and Black Adolescent Girls’ Mental Well-being

Religion is a key source of better mental health and well-being across the life course for Black Americans. A constant among Black youth and their families, it is also a significant cultural and coping resource for Black girls, who tend to be more religious than Black boys. Attending worship services and participating in other organized religious activities has been shown to contribute to a wide range of positive outcomes, including mental well-being. This may be one significant factor to help us understand how to foster mental well-being among Black girls and the emotional support received from relationships formed within the religious communities that Black girls may access.

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Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Slowing Down the Teen Vaping Epidemic?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Monitoring the Future (MTF), a national survey of teen substance use, reported that rates of electronic cigarette (e-cig) use among adolescents were steadily increasing (Miech et al., 2019; Willet et al., 2019). However, with the onset of the pandemic, rates of e-cig use seem to be stalling out. As of May 2020, over a third of underage e-cig users reported desisting use, while another third reported reducing the frequency of their use (Gaiha et al., 2020). Although mostly speculation, some emerging literature points to the COVID-19 as being an unintentional catalyst for this decrease in e-cig use among teens (Dumas et al., 2020; Gaiha et al., 2020)

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