Ryan Watson, PhD

Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies (Affiliate)

Research Overview

Dr. Ryan J. Watson is an Assistant Professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. He explores protective factors for vulnerable adolescents, with a focus on interpersonal relationships. Dr. Watson situates himself as a mixed-methods interdisciplinary family scientist and draws from life course and developmental frameworks. At InCHIP, Dr. Watson aims to further advance the scholarship of health and well-being, interpersonal relationships, and sexual minority youth through mixed-method approaches. Dr. Watson has used both population-based and non-probability datasets from the US, Norway, and Canada to examine how social support (friends, teachers, and parents) may attenuate the impact of risk factors such as victimization, homophobia, and stigma on well-being. He continues to research how social support provides a foundation for achievement and healthy outcomes for vulnerable youth. In addition, Dr. Watson has led a qualitative study that explores the motivations and outcomes for hooking up among sexual minority populations. His work explores the ways in which the use of different platforms to initiate and engage in hook ups differs by sexual orientation subgroups.


B.A. Psychology; Political Science, UCLA, 2009
M.S. Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2012
Ph.D. Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona, 2014

Featured Publications

Goodenow, C., Watson, R.J., Adjei, J., Homma, Y. & Saewyc, E. (in press). Sexual orientation trends and
disparities in school bullying and violence-related experiences. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender

Stathatos, M., Watson, R.J., Sulkowski, M. (in press). Peer victimization and resilience among LGBT youth.

Watson, R.J., Grossman, A.H., & Russell, S.T. (2016). Sources of social support and mental health among LGB
youth. Youth & Society, Ahead of Print, 1-18. doi: 10.1177/0044118X16660110

Watson, R.J., Adjei, J., Saewyc, E, Homma, Y., & Goodenow, C. (2016). Trends and disparities in disordered
eating among heterosexual and sexual minority adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders, Early
View, doi: 10.1002/eat.22576

Watson, R.J., & Russell, S.T. (2016). Disengaged or bookworm: Academics, mental health, and success for
sexual minority youth. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 26(1), 159-165. doi: 10.1111/jora.12178

Watson, R.J., Barnett, M., & Russell, S.T. (2016). Parent support matters for the educational success of sexual
minorities. Journal of GLBT Family Studies, 12(2), 188-202. doi: 10.1080/1550428X.2015.1028694

Watson, R.J., McDonald, D., Carter, R., & Russo, J. M. (2016). Reducing youth risk behaviors through interactive
theatre. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 4(1), 70-77.

Watson, R.J., Wheldon, C.W., Wichstrøm, L., & Russell, S.T. (2015). Cross-national investigation of health
indicators among sexual minorities in Norway and the United States. Social Sciences, 4(4), 1006-1019. doi:

Watson, R.J., Wheldon, C.W., & Russell, S.T. (2015). How does sexual identity disclosure impact school
experiences? Journal of LGBT Youth, 12(4), 385-396. doi: 10.1080/19361653.2015.1077764

Snapp, S., Watson, R.J., Russell, S.T., Diaz, R., & Ryan, C. (2015). Social support networks for LGBT young
adults: Low cost strategies for positive adjustment. Family Relations, 64(3), 420-430. doi: 10.1111/fare.12124

Licona, A.C., & Watson, R. J. (2016). Sexual minorities. In N. Naples (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of
Gender and Sexuality Studies. New York, NY: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss259

Watson, R.J., & Russell, S.T. (2015). LGBTQ families and schools. In G. L. Wimberly (Ed.), Research on LGBTQ
in Education: Using and Investing in Building Knowledge (pp. 75-88), Washington, DC: AERA.

Russell, S.T., Watson, R.J., & Muraco, J.A. (2011). Development of same-sex intimate relationships. In B.
Laursen & A.W. Collins (Eds.), Relationship Pathways: From Adolescence to Young Adulthood (pp. 215-233).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Contact Information
Mailing AddressDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies
348 Mansfield Road, Unit 1058
Storrs, CT 06269-1058