Ronald L Simons

Ronald L Simons
University of Georgia | UGA · Department of Sociology and Owens Institute for Behavioral Research

Ph.D.

About

300
Publications
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24,168
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Publications

Publications (300)
Article
Background While numerous studies have documented the power of new generation epigenetic clocks to predict morbidity and mortality, research regarding the causes of variation in speed of epigenetic aging is in the early stages. To the extent that these epigenetic clocks are robust measures of biological aging, they should be sensitive to various nu...
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Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) has a complex genetic and environmental architecture that underlies its development and clinical presentation. Despite the identification of well over a hundred genetic variants and CpG sites that associate with T2D, a robust biosignature that could be used to prevent or forestall clinical disease has not been develop...
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The current study extends research on the detrimental health implications of racial discrimination by examining how these implications reverberate across romantic relationships. Using two generations of different-gender romantic couples from the Family and Community Health Study, we examined how racial discrimination experienced by a romantic partn...
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Objective Past research has established a link between romantic relationships and depressive symptoms among adults, including those in later life. There is, however, still a lack of evidence regarding whether romantic relationship status or relationship quality, is a better predictor of psychological well-being among middle-aged and older Black adu...
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Objectives Research on the social determinants of health has suggested that neighborhood disadvantage may undermine healthy aging and is particularly relevant for understanding health disparities. Recently, this work has examined deoxyribonucleic acid methylation (DNAm)-based measures of biological aging to understand the risk factors for morbidity...
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We expand upon prior work (Gibbons et al., 2012) relating childhood stressor effects, particularly harsh childhood environments, to risky behavior and ultimately physical health by adding longer-term outcomes – deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methylation-based measures of accelerated aging (DNA m -aging). Further, following work on the effects of early...
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Research suggests that incarceration exposure increases the prevalence of morbidity and premature mortality. This work is only beginning to examine whether the stressors of the incarceration experience become biologically embedded in ways that affect physiological deterioration. Using data from a longitudinal sample of 410 African American adults i...
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Objective: We examined the association of prospectively assessed harsh parenting during adolescence with body mass index (BMI) in young adulthood among African American youth. We also assessed the role of methylation of obesity-related genes and gene expression markers of obesity as mediators of this association, providing a pathway for the biologi...
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Background . Methylation of FKBP5 is involved in the regulation of the stress response and is influenced by early stress exposure. Two CpG sites, cg20813374 and cg00130530, have been identified as potential reporters of early stress. We examined whether FKBP5 methylation was associated with accelerated DNA methylation aging and indirectly predicted...
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Objectives: The recent biological clocks GrimAge and PoAm are robust predictors of morbidity and mortality. Little research, however, has investigated the factors that influence their ticking speed. No study has used multivariate analyses to examine whether childhood adversity, adult hardship, lifestyle practices, or some combination of these facto...
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Research on biological embedding of the social environment has been expedited by increased availability of biomarkers. Recently, this arsenal of measures has been expanded to include epigenetic clocks that indicate in years the extent to which an individual is older or younger than their chronological age. These measures of biological aging, especi...
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The steeling hypothesis suggests experiencing moderate strain may improve an individual's ability to cope with future strain, whereas crisis theory suggests that experiencing temporary strain will reduce the effect of future strain. The current study improves on past research by utilizing data from two independent prospective panel studies (one of...
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Objective: Numerous studies have found evidence of a link between perceived discrimination and unhealthy behavior, especially substance use. Within this body of literature, however, several studies have found unexpected evidence of a positive relation between perceived racial discrimination among African Americans-mostly women-and certain types of...
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The present study extends prior research on the link between neighborhood disorder and health by testing an integrated model that combines various social and biological factors. Hypotheses were tested using a sample of 325 African American women from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS). As expected, inflammatory burden was the biophysiolo...
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Research has consistently shown that sexual victimization during childhood and adolescence can lead to negative outcomes. However, little research to date has sought to test whether these experiences can shape security of attachment in adulthood, an important concept in attachment theory. Utilizing a longitudinal community sample of African America...
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Some prior studies have found that, for boys, earlier puberty is linked to higher crime and delinquency, while other studies have found that earlier puberty is associated with greater social competence and beneficial psychosocial development. The current study suggests that these seemingly contradictory results actually represent two divergent path...
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Background The weathering hypothesis views the elevated rates of illness, disability, and mortality seen among Black Americans as a physiological response to the structural barriers, material hardships, and identity threats that comprise the Black experience. While granting that lifestyle may have some significance, the fundamental explanation for...
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Epigenetic aging (EA) indices are frequently used as predictors of mortality and other important health outcomes. However, each of the commonly used array-based indices has significant heritable components which could tag ethnicity and potentially confound comparisons across racial and ethnic groups. To determine if this was possible, we examined t...
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A large body of evidence suggests that exposure to childhood adversities increases risk for poor quality physical health in adulthood. Much of this evidence is based on retrospective measures which are believed to be contaminated by the limitations and biases of autobiographical memory. Using longitudinal data on 454 African Americans (61 percent f...
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It is widely accepted that socioeconomic status (SES) is a fundamental cause of health inequality. There is evidence, however, that race is also a fundamental cause of disparities in health. Based on this idea, the weathering hypothesis developed by Geronimus and her colleagues views the elevated rates of illness and disability seen among Black Ame...
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Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, prompting interest in its association with DNA methylation-based measures of biological aging. Considerable progress has been made in developing DNA methylation-based measures that correspond to self-reported smoking status. In addition, assessment of DNA methyla...
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Objectives This study examines hypotheses regarding patterns of developmental change in street code commitment from childhood through emerging adulthood. It tests whether street code commitment demonstrates developmental stability or if it fluctuates in response to evolving socially demoralizing conditions. Methods Latent growth curve and parallel...
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Identifying the mechanisms linking early experiences, genetic risk factors, and their interaction, with later health consequences is central to the development of preventive interventions and identifying potential boundary conditions for their efficacy. In the current investigation of 412 African American adolescents followed across a 20-year perio...
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The prospective relations between perceived racial discrimination (PRD), assessed at 4 different time periods from childhood through adolescence, along with assessments of PRD from the police ("hassling"), and self-reports of arrest and incarceration at a mean age of 24.5 years, were examined in a sample of 889 African Americans from the Family and...
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Objectives: Past research has reported an association between neighborhood disadvantage and healthy aging, but most of these studies utilize self-report measures of health or physical functioning and do not properly account for neighborhood selection effects, creating concerns regarding inflated associations. To overcome these limitations and provi...
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The present study extends prior research on the links between social adversity and aging by employing more comprehensive measures of adversity and a new gene expression index of aging. Hierarchical regression and 20 years of data from a sample of 381 black Americans were used to test models regarding the impact of social adversity on speed of aging...
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Objective: This study examined the role of depressive symptoms in mediating the relationship between early life experiences of racial discrimination and accelerated aging in adulthood for African Americans (i.e., prediction over a 19-year period, from ages 10 to 29) after adjusting for gender and health behaviors. Method: Longitudinal self-repor...
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Objective Chronic inflammation and expression of the TP53 gene are two biomarkers that have been identified as particularly important in the etiology and progression of cancer. While much is known about the determinants of inflammation, there is currently little information regarding the causes of variation in the functioning of TP53, even though i...
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We followed 402 African American young adults from ages 24 to 29, a period of emerging committed relationships, to examine the association of contextual stress (CS), for example, experiences of financial strain, victimization, and racial discrimination, with inflammation, and to test predictions that greater perceived relationship warmth and suppor...
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Although researchers have explored negative individual consequences of racial discrimination, very little work has examined the connection between discrimination and intimate partner violence (IPV) among African American men. Existing work tends to be cross-sectional and does not specify mediators or moderators that might explain this link. Thus, i...
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Objectives: -Determine whether an epigenetic assay for smoking predicts all-cause mortality in adults participating in a longitudinal study of Iowa adoptees. Background: -Improved biomarkers for smoking are needed given its large public health impact and significant limitations of both self-report and current biomarkers, such as cotinine in dete...
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There is strong evidence that chronic, systemic inflammation hastens onset of the diseases of old age that ultimately lead to death. Importantly, several studies suggest that childhood adversity predicts chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, this research has been plagued by retrospective reports of childhood adversity, an absence of controls for ad...
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The purpose of this study is to evaluate the quality of observer ratings of neighborhood disorder using a many-facet Rasch model (MFRM). Our goal is to investigate observer severity and observer consistency. Observers trained in the use of a systematic social observation visited and rated residential neighborhoods. Data for this study are drawn fro...
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An improved approach for predicting the risk for incident coronary heart disease (CHD) could lead to substantial improvements in cardiovascular health. Previously, we have shown that genetic and epigenetic loci could predict CHD status more sensitively than conventional risk factors. Herein, we examine whether similar machine learning approaches co...
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The present study extends prior research on the link between neighborhood disadvantage and chronic illness by testing an integrated model in which neighborhood characteristics exert effects on health conditions through accelerated cardiometabolic aging. Hypotheses were tested using a sample of 408 African Americans from the Family and Community Hea...
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We examined the prospective relations between a cultural risk factor, perceived racial discrimination (PRD), and subsequent negative affect and health behavior (smoking) in a panel of 889 African American children (part of the Family and Community Health Study). Cultural moderators (protective factors) of these relations were also examined. PRD was...
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A substantial amount of research indicates precocious pubertal development is associated with delinquent behavior in girls. However, no clear consensus on theoretical mechanisms underlying this association has been established. Using a prospective panel study of 480 African-American girls, the current study uses latent growth curve analysis to comp...
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Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
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Several studies have reported a relation between race-related stressors and the poor health of Black Americans. Such findings raise questions regarding the mediating biological mechanisms that might account for this link. The present study investigated elevated systemic inflammation, a factor shown to be a strong predictor of chronic illness and mo...
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Full-text available
Although high socioeconomic status (SES) is traditionally conceptualized as a health protective factor, recent literature has documented positive associations between SES (e.g., income) and depression among Blacks, including Black youth. To extend the results of this recent literature, the current study used the Family and Community Health Study (F...
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Background: Recent research has suggested vulnerability to perceived racial discrimination (PRD) as a mechanism behind high levels of depression seen in high socioeconomic status (SES) Black males. To better understand the effects of gender and SES on shaping experiences of PRD among Black youth in the United States, we used data from the Family an...
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Objective: An association between childhood trauma and adult health outcomes has been widely reported, but little is known about the developmental pathways through which childhood trauma influences adult cardiovascular disease (CVD). Methods: Hypotheses were tested with a sample of 405 African Americans from the Family and Community Health Study (F...
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Using data from the Family and Community Health Survey, the current study explores developmental pathways from age 11 to 24 of African American males and females. This study describes the number and type of trajectories of offending for male and female African Americans, as much research in the past on trajectories has focused on White and/or male...
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For many African American youth, the joint influences of economic and racial marginalization render the transition to stable adult roles challenging. We have gained much insight into how these challenges affect future life chances, yet we lack an understanding of what these challenges mean in the context of linked lives. Drawing on a life course fr...
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Experiences with parents during childhood may influence long-term health for those growing up in adverse environments, with effects that extend into young adulthood and beyond. Some effects of parenting on later inflammation and depression may be mediated by later romantic partner relationships and effects on stressors in young adulthood, influenci...
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Recent studies evince that interpersonal racial discrimination (IRD) increases the risk of crime among African Americans and familial racial socialization fosters resilience to discrimination's criminogenic effects. Yet, studies have focused on the short-term effects of IRD and racial socialization largely among adolescents. In this study, we seek...
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Rationale: Past research has established an association between childhood and adolescent stressors and elevated inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers in adulthood, but questions remain about the theoretical model most suited to explain this association. Objective: This study examined alternative hypotheses from four theoretical models regarding...
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Taking a “strength approach” to African American families and cultures, recent research demonstrates that familial racial socialization provides resilience to the criminogenic effects of interpersonal racial discrimination among Black youth. Building on these nascent findings, the present study takes a process-oriented approach to understand how ra...
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Building upon various lines of research, we posited that methylation of the oxytocin receptor gene ( OXTR ) would mediate the effect of adult adversity on increased commitment to negative schemas and in turn the development of depression. We tested our model using structural equation modeling and longitudinal data from a sample of 100 middle-aged,...
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Better biomarkers to detect smoking are needed given the tremendous public health burden caused by smoking. Current biomarkers to detect smoking have significant limitations, notably a short half-life for detection and lack of sensitivity for light smokers. These limitations may be particularly problematic in populations with less accurate self-rep...
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Objectives. Drawing on several interrelated lines of scholarship, we argue that cultural beliefs at individual and neighborhood levels may affect police and court decisions. We hypothesize that individuals who more strongly adhere to the code of the street or reside in areas where the street code culture is more strongly embraced will be more likel...
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Objective: We examined the mediational role of symptoms of anxiety in accounting for the association of discrimination and chronic health conditions among African-American women. Methods: Participants were 646 African-American women who completed self-report measures of perceived racial discrimination, symptoms of anxiety, and diagnosed chronic...
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Parental depression is a well-established risk factor for couple conflict and ineffective or hostile parenting (M. C. Lovejoy, P. A. Graczyk, E. O'Hare, & G. Neuman, 2000; L. M. Papp, M. C. Goeke-Morey, & E. M. Cummings, 2007). Although research suggests that caregiver depression may impact parenting indirectly via increased conflict between couple...
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Studies have found that African Americans are more likely to perceive racial biases in the criminal justice system than are those from other racial groups. There is a limited understanding of how neighborhood social processes affect variation in these perceptions. This study formulates a series of hypotheses focused on whether perceived racial bias...
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An increasing amount of sociological research is directed at unpacking the social processes behind neighborhood effects on youth behavioral outcomes. The goal of the current study is to build upon these prior efforts and advance research on neighborhood cultural mechanisms and adolescent sexual-partnering behaviors. We formulate and test a series o...
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Although multiple studies have found that African Americans commonly experience racial discrimination, available studies have yet to examine how perceived racism might be related to suicide vulnerability in African American youth. The purpose of this study was to examine a framework for how perceived racial discrimination contributes to symptoms of...
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We examined whether romantic relationship satisfaction would serve as a link between early and later stressors which in turn would influence the thyroid function index (TFI), an indicator of physiological stress response. Using the framework of genetic susceptibility theory combined with hypotheses derived from the vulnerability-stress-adaptation a...
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Risky sexual behavior, particularly among adolescents, continues to be a major source of concern. In order to develop effective education and prevention programs, there is a need for research that identifies the antecedents of such behavior. This study investigated the mediators that link parenting experiences during early adolescence to subsequent...
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Objectives To examine the effect of the relationship between alcohol and cigarette consumption on biological aging using deoxyribonucleic acid methylation-based indices. DesignHierarchical linear regression modeling followed by fitting of higher-order effects. SettingLongitudinal studies of aging and the effect of psychosocial stress. ParticipantsP...
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Smoking is associated with poorer health outcomes for both African and European Americans. In order to better understand whether ethnic-specific genetic variation may underlie some of these differences, we compared the smoking-associated genome-wide methylation signatures of African Americans with those of European Americans, and followed up this a...