Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Chair
Ph.D. North Carolina State University
Areas of Specialization:
My general research interests are in the sociology of crime/deviance/social control and the sociology of mental health. Currently, my work follows two directions. First, I am interested in law violation and mental health among adolescents and young adults, focusing on social psychological mediators. Recent projects included an examination the role of victimization as a stressor that contributes to delinquency, and an analysis of history of abuse, self-control and negative social consequences among homeless young adults (with Dr. Kim Tyler). In an on-going project, I am exploring how extracurricular, religious, and civic involvement in high school influence young adult well-being, arguing that the social psychological factors associated with positive youth development mediate the relationship between activity portfolios and antisocial and prosocial behavior. This data will also be used to determine how within-activity experiences influence outcomes.
Second, I am interested in representations of crime in the media, how consumers perceive such messages, and the potential impact on criminal justice policies. A recent project entailed a content analysis of children’s superhero cartoons, which revealed messages about crime causation, crime control, and criminal justice that were consistent with the dominant ideology. In another paper, co-authored with Kelley Hartshorn, I utilized NASIS data to examine how viewing different types of crime shows (e.g., dramas; non-fiction; news) differentially contributes to fear of crime and how this is linked to confidence in and support for dominant justice policies. The results of this research, published in Sociological Quarterly, were featured across several news outlets, such as Yahoo News and MSNBC. After another round of data collection, we plan to further dissect these relationships, such as separating news reporting from news commentary shows, and news magazine shows from other non-fiction documentary style shows