Sophia Choukas-Bradley's lab

About the lab

The Teen and Young Adult Lab (TAYA Lab) is led by Dr. Sophia Choukas-Bradley. Our lab studies interpersonal and sociocultural influences on adolescent mental health. Much of our research focuses on understanding adolescents' social media use, including its effects on peer relationships, mental health, and wellbeing. We are especially interested in the role of social media in adolescent girls' body image. We also study sexual and gender development in adolescence, with an emphasis on mental health among LGBTQ+ youth.The lab is moving from the University of Pittsburgh to the University of Delaware in the summer of 2020.

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Featured research (30)

There is a dearth of research examining Black adolescents' body image, with even less work examining gender differences or the influence of ethnic-racial identity (ERI) commitment. It is critical to understand how culturally relevant aspects of appearance beyond commonly measured ideals such as thinness and muscularity are particularly relevant to Black adolescents. The present study of Black youth (n = 252; 55% girls, 45% boys, ages 13-18, M age = 15.5) explored the roles of gender and ERI commitment in the associations between skin tone, hair, and facial satisfaction and appearance esteem, depressive symptomatology, and self-objectification. With a few exceptions, satisfaction with skin tone, hair, and face were significantly associated with higher appearance esteem and lower self-objectification and depressive symptoms, even when controlling for weight and muscle tone satisfaction. Findings were similar across genders, with some associations stronger among Black girls relative to boys. Among youth with higher ERI commitment, associations were stronger between skin tone, hair, and facial satisfaction and some indicators of wellbeing. Findings elucidate the role of culturally relevant appearance concerns of Black adolescents and the potential benefits of ERI commitment. This work can inform culturally sensitive research practices and therapeutic interventions related to Black youth's body image experiences.
Appearance-related social media consciousness (ASMC) is the persistent awareness of one’s attractiveness on social media. The ASMC Scale, recently developed for use with adolescents (Choukas-Bradley et al., 2020), provides a promising tool for systematically examining ASMC and associations with mental health. The current study examined the psychometric properties of the ASMC Scale among emerging adult men and women. Participants for Study 1 were 428 emerging adults (M age = 21.9) from five Anglophone, industrialized countries (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand). Results from Study 1 provide evidence that the 13-item ASMC Scale has a unidimensional structure, strong internal consistency, measurement invariance across gender, and convergent validity (i.e., associations with related offline appearance concerns and cognitions) and incremental validity (i.e., associations with depressive symptoms and disordered eating, above and beyond time spent on social media). Participants from Study 2 were 296 U.S. college students (M age = 18.6). Results from Study 2 confirmed the factor structure and further demonstrated the convergent and incremental validity (above and beyond both time spent on social media and offline appearance concerns) of the ASMC Scale. Findings suggest that the ASMC Scale can be used among emerging adults, aiding future research investigating social media experiences and mental health.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth report disproportionately high rates of mental health problems when compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers, including suicidality, depression, and substance use. These mental health disparities likely result from experiences of minority stress, such as bullying and victimization, discrimination, and internalized homo/transnegativity. Many of these stressors are modifiable, as are the protective factors and coping strategies that provide most LGBT youth with resilience in the face of minority stress. A comprehensive review of the literature on LGBT youth mental health is beyond the scope of this brief chapter, and we do not provide a systematic review here. Rather, our goal is to provide an overview of the state of this emerging literature. Specifically, we will provide an overview of minority stress theory as it relates to the experiences of LGBT youth, review current knowledge of mental health disparities among LGBT adolescents, describe how minority stress experiences are related to the mental health of LGBT youth, and summarize our current understanding of resilience and protective factors within this population.KeywordsLGBT youthAdolescenceMental health disparitiesSexual minorityGender minorityDepressionSuicidalityNSSISubstance use
Sexual communication with partners is important for adolescents' sexual and socioemotional well-being. Behavioral assessments of partner sexual communication capture the complex and nuanced process of communication and are commonly used with adults, yet the existing literature among adolescents overwhelmingly relies on self-report measures. In the current paper, we reviewed the literature on adolescent partner sexual communication, identifying 14 studies including 2,043 participants (M age = 16) that used behavioral assessments (i.e., dyadic observations, role-plays with confederates, role-plays with vignettes). We also identify key gaps in the current literature: First, only one study recruited couples; studies that assessed dyadic interactions largely relied on confederates. Second, assessments often assumed that participants engaged in heterosexual sex, and no studies specifically recruited LGBTQ+ adolescents. Third, behavioral tasks often involved assumptions of participants' sexual goals (e.g., desire to refuse sex) and focused almost exclusively on sexual refusal and condom negotiation. Additionally, coding schemes lacked standardization and micro-analytic strategies (e.g., coding change over time). Finally, observational methods have been almost exclusively used to assess intervention efficacy, rather than to understand associations between behaviorally-assessed communication skills and sexual outcomes or self-reported communication in basic research. We discuss recommendations for future research, including regular use of behavioral observation methods with diverse samples, to triangulate across multiple methodologies and identify correspondence between behavioral and self-report measures.
In this theoretical review paper, we provide a developmental-sociocultural framework for the role of social media (SM) in adolescent girls' body image concerns, and in turn, depressive symptoms and disordered eating. We propose that the features of SM (e.g., idealized images of peers, quantifiable feedback) intersect with adolescent developmental factors (e.g., salience of peer relationships) and sociocultural gender socialization processes (e.g., societal over-emphasis on girls' and women's physical appearance) to create the "perfect storm" for exacerbating girls' body image concerns. We argue that, ultimately, body image concerns may be a key mechanism underlying associations between adolescent girls' SM use and mental health. In the context of proposing this framework, we provide empirical evidence for how SM may increase adolescent girls' body image concerns through heightening their focus on (1) other people's physical appearance (e.g., through exposure to idealized images of peers, celebrities, and SM influencers; quantifiable indicators of approval); and (2) their own appearance (e.g., through appearance-related SM consciousness; exposure to idealized self-images; encouraging over-valuing of appearance; and peer approval of photos/videos). Our framework highlights new avenues for future research on adolescent girls' SM use and mental health, which recognize the central role of body image.

Lab head

Sophia Choukas-Bradley
About Sophia Choukas-Bradley
  • I'm an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh studying sociocultural influences on adolescent mental health, with a focus on social media use, body image, gender, and sexuality. | Lab website: | Psychology Today blog: | Twitter:

Members (3)

Savannah R. Roberts
  • University of Pittsburgh
Anne J Maheux
  • University of Pittsburgh
Claire Stout
  • University of Pittsburgh

Alumni (5)

Emily Carrino
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Yiyao Zhou
  • Indiana University Bloomington
Brianna A. Ladd
  • University of Maryland, College Park
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