• As a developmental psychologist with a background in gender studies, I am interested in the intersections between culture, sexuality and health. I use an ecological perspective to investigate cultural identities' influence on development during adolescence and emerging adulthood. A key objective of my work is the identification of multi- level cultural factors increasing health inequities. I am particularly interested in identifying ways these health trends are informed by sexual scripting processes

    I began this scripting work over a decade ago when examining mainstream Hip Hop culture’s influence on African American women’s sexual risk outcomes. This cutting edge research was among the first in the field of psychology to examine African American adolescent’s scripting processes relationship to Hip Hop culture and behavioral outcomes. My current research foci builds upon this by examining the ways in which cultural beliefs and expectations influence health inequities, identity development, and decision making processes. I frame this research using a non- deficit lens, and I utilize approaches that prioritize cultural humility throughout all phases of the research process.

research interests

  • Dr. Stephens' research examines socio-historical factors shaping minority populations' sexual scripting and sexual health processes, with emphasis on gender and ethnic/ racial identity development. Her research is conducted through the Heath Disparities and Cultural Identities Lab. With an ultimate goal of reducing health disparities, her research specifically examines diverse cultural beliefs' influence on intimate relationships and sexual health decision making in marginalized populations.

    A key goal of Dr. Stephens' work is to identify factors that can help prevent continued health disparities, particularly within understudied and marginalized communities. Her recent study outcomes highlight the importance of gender and racial/ethnic identity, familial processes, and media influences on behavioral outcomes. These studies fall under three broad research foci: Health Disparities, Identity Development, and Culture.

    Dr. Stephens' publication record reflects the development of concepts and the path to her current thinking about the ways in which cultural beliefs and expectations influence health disparities, identity development, and popular culture frameworks.

selected scholarly works & creative activities

full name

  • Dionne Stephens