Welcome to the Colby Health Psychology Lab! We are interested in both understanding the psychological, social, and environmental factors that relate to health behaviors and improving the design of health promotion interventions. In general, our research asks questions of how, for whom, and under what circumstances these factors affect health. We are currently pursuing three lines of research .
Influences of peers on health. Our primary area of research seeks to understand peer influence, particularly in the context of college student alcohol use. We are examining how and for whom students’ peer social networks encourage risky behavior and constrain efforts at changing behavior. We are currently examining the processes that underlie mimicry of heavy alcohol use and testing strategies that might protect individuals against this form of peer influence. Collaborators on this research include Kate Carey at Brown and Eric Robinson and Matt Field at the University of Liverpool.
Improving interventions to reduce alcohol use. This line of research focuses on improving alcohol interventions for young adults by producing a better understanding of the mechanisms through which interventions bring about behavior change. This work has included a systematic review examining evidence for mechanisms of behavior change in college alcohol interventions. We are currently testing the efficacy of individual intervention ingredients to improve our understanding of which strategies are effective and which might be abandoned. We are also interested in differentiatiating the factors that are important for initiating versus maintaining behavior change.
Influences of stigma and discrimination on health. In a third line of research, we examine influences of stigma and discrimination on health. With collaborators Jeannette Ickovics, Trace Kershaw, and others at Yale, we are examining how and for which individuals experiences with discrimination negatively affect a number of health outcomes, including maternal and child health. We are also working with Jack Dovidio and Blair Johnson to examine the influence of structural forms of stigma (e.g., residential segregation, community attitudes) on the efficacy of interventions for improving African American’s health.