Ryan Watson, PhD

Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Sciences (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

Watson, R.J., VanKim, N., Rose, H., Porta, C.M., Gahagan, J., &, Eisenberg, M. (in press). Unhealthy weight control behaviors among youth: Sex of sexual partner is linked to troubling differences. Eating Disorders.

Watson, R.J., Fish, J.N., **Allen, A., & Eaton, L. (in press). Sexual identity disclosure and awareness of HIV prevention methods among Black men who have sex with men. Journal of Sex Research. Online Early View, doi:10.1080/00224499.2017.1375452

Watson, R.J., *Shahin, Y., & Arbeit, M. (in press). Hookup satisfaction and outcomes related to initiation techniques differ across LGB young men and women. Sexualities.

Watson, R.J., Peter, T., **McKay, T., Edkins, T., & Saewyc, E. (in press). Evidence of changing patterns in mental health and depressive symptoms for sexual minority adolescents. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health.

Watson, R.J., Goodenow, C., Porta, C.M., Adjei, J., & Saewyc, E. (in press). Substance use among sexual minorities: Has it actually gotten better? Substance Use & Misuse. doi:10.1080/10826084.2017.1400563

Porta, C.M., Watson, R.J., Doull, M., Eisenberg, M., Grumdahl, N., Saewyc, E. (in press). Trend disparities in emotional distress and suicidality among sexual minority and heterosexual Minnesota adolescents from 1998 to 2010. Journal of School Health.

Doull, M., Watson, R.J., Smith, A., Homma, Y., & Saewyc, E. (in press). Are we leveling the playing field? Trends in sports participation among sexual minority youth. Journal of Sports and Health Science, Early Online View, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2016.10.006

Watson, R.J., Grossman, A.H., & Russell, S.T. (in press). Sources of social support and mental health among LGB youth. Youth & Society, Early Online View, 1-19. doi:10.1177/0044118X16660110

Watson, R.J., Lewis, N., Fish, J., & Goodenow, C. (2018). Sexual minority youth continue to smoke cigarettes earlier and more often than heterosexual peers: Findings from population-based data. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 183, 64-70. doi:10.?1016/?j.?drugalcdep.?2017.?11.?025

Watson, R.J., Snapp, S., & **Wang, S. (2017). What we know and where to go from here: A review of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth hookup literature. Sex Roles, 77, 801-811. doi:10.1007/s11199-017-0831-2

Fish, J.N., Watson, R.J., Russell, S.T., & Saewyc, E. (2017). Are alcohol-related disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual youth decreasing? Addiction, 112, 1931-1941. doi:10.1111/add.13896 (IF = 5.79)

Watson, R.J., & Christensen, J. (2017). Big data and student engagement among vulnerable youth: A review. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 18, 23-27. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.07.004

Mehus, C., Watson, R.J., Porta, C.M., & Eisenberg, M. (2017). Living as an LGBTQ adolescent and a parent’s child. Journal of Family Nursing, 23, 175-200. doi:10.1177/1074840717696924

Watson, R.J., Veale, J., & Saewyc, E. (2017). Disordered eating among transgender youth: Probability profiles from risk and protective factors. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50, 512-522. doi:10.1002/eat.22627

Peter, T., Edkins, T., Watson, R.J., Adjei, J., Homma, Y., & Saewyc, E. (2017). Trends in suicidality among sexual minority and heterosexual students in a Canadian population-based cohort study. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4, 115-123. doi:10.1037/sgd0000211

Watson, R.J., Adjei, J., Saewyc, E, Homma, Y., & Goodenow, C. (2017). Trends and disparities in disordered eating among heterosexual and sexual minority adolescents. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 50, 22-31. doi:10.1002/eat.22576

Veale, J., Watson, R.J., Peter, T., & Saewyc, E. (2017). Mental health disparities among Canadian transgender youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60, 44-49. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.09.014

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