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Teaching Adolesence

Emerging Scholar Spotlight: Haylee DeLuca

June 2017

Haylee DeLuca is a doctoral candidate in Developmental Psychology at Kent State University. Haylee’s research examines developmentally salient close relationships during adolescence and young adulthood, including peer, romantic, and sexual relationships, with a focus on individuals who have experienced a family transition or dissolution (e.g., adopted individuals or those involved in the foster care system). Her dissertation examines long-term implications of adoption on educational, employment, and marital outcomes in young adulthood. She is passionate about understanding how social relationships impact development and account for differences in adjustment.

Haylee’s trajectory as a researcher began as an undergraduate at the Ohio State University, working as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Robert Arkin. Haylee was encouraged to further explore her research interests, and thus pursued her Master’s degree in general psychology at the University of Dayton. While pursuing her Master’s degree, Haylee was a graduate fellow at a homeless shelter/transitional living program, Daybreak. At Daybreak, Haylee worked with homeless adolescents and young adults in one-on-one and group settings, focusing on developing independent living skills.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Manfred van Dulmen at Kent State University, Haylee’s research in graduate school has focused on the role of interpersonal relationships and experiences in adolescent and young adult development. Specifically, Haylee has used multiple methods to examine how peer, romantic, and sexual relationships influence adjustment, particularly in the face of adversity. Her program of research has three main objectives: (i) understanding the predictors and consequences of casual sexual behaviors during adolescence and young adulthood, (ii) advancing and propagating best measurement and methodologies for studying close relationships across development, (iii) studying the role of non-familiar close relationships in the development of those who have experienced a family transition or dissolution during childhood, such as those who have been adopted or experienced foster care.

Haylee’s dissertation, which is partially funded by the Henry David Research Grant through the American Psychological Foundation, analyzes the long-term implications of adoption on educational, work, and marital outcomes in young adulthood compared to individuals raised by both biological parents. This project utilizes four waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to account for specific attributes and experiences from adolescence (e.g., mother’s education level, quality of parent-adolescent relationships, quality of peer relationships, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, substance use) that likely contribute to young adult outcomes, as well as adoption-related experiences (e.g., age at adoption, foster care experience, and type of adoption) that may better explain why some adoptees show deficits in developmentally salient outcomes and others do not. Using propensity score analysis, Haylee will test whether the differences observed between adoptees and biologically-reared individuals can be better explained by these other life experiences and attributes (as opposed to adoption status). In addition, she will investigate whether adoption-related experiences impact young adult outcomes of adoptees, while holding all relevant confounds constant.

Haylee is also passionate about using advanced quantitative methods and innovative research designs to answer complex questions about dyadic relationships. She has worked with daily-diary and longitudinal designs, as well as observational and dyadic data. For instance, Haylee has published work investigating the longitudinal impact of perception of peers’ engagement in casual sex, communication with peers about casual sex, and peer approval of casual sex on satisfaction both immediately following a casual sex encounter and a month after the encounter occurred. She also co-authored and a methods paper detailing how to assess measurement invariance for dyadic data and recently submitted a paper examining the psychometric properties of a multiple-informant measure for adolescent and young adult romantic partners.

In addition to her research interests, Haylee enjoys teaching and mentoring. She has pursued teaching opportunities and has been the primary instructor for adolescent psychology, quantitative methods, and writing in psychology. She also co-developed an online course on intimate relationships. Haylee enjoys working with undergraduate students and mentored an honors thesis on the late-adolescent romantic relationship outcomes of adoptees and those who have experienced foster care. She also mentored small groups of undergraduates who presented their work at regional undergraduate research conferences. Haylee looks forward to a career contributing to research and theory on adolescent development while mentoring future adolescent psychology researchers.


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