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Elizabeth Culatta, PhD - Augusta University. Augusta, GA, US

Elizabeth Culatta, PhD

Assistant Profoessor | Augusta University


My research program concentrates on how identity processes affect health, especially during the transition to adulthood.


My research interests focus on the intersection of social psychology and medical sociology. My research explores a range of outcomes including mental health during the transition to adulthood, barriers to accessing medical services following sexual victimization, and the impact of contact with the criminal justice system on mental health. My current teaching focus is on the Sociology of Health and Illness, the Sociology of Health Care, and Introduction to Sociology and I have previously taught courses on Sociological Theory, Gender and Work, Social Psychology, and the Life Course.

My recent research examines health and identity during the transition to adulthood. In my dissertation, I explored how views of one’s self as an adult and perceptions of how others view one’s progress toward adulthood affect health risk behaviors and mental health. I explored the cultural understandings of adulthood as they relate to participation in health risk behaviors and mental health outcomes. The dissertation builds upon themes introduced in my previous research. In an article published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, I analyzed how romantic relationship quality and stability affect mental and physical health. In an article published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, I examined the role of depressive symptoms and alcohol use in sexual revictimization. In my current work, I am identifying barriers to accessing both physical and mental health services following sexual victimization both on and off college campuses using an original diverse sample of young adult women. I am also working with The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health dataset to understand the impact of contact with the criminal justice system on mental health and attitude trajectories in early adulthood.

My teaching experience at Augusta University has focused on two Medical Sociology Courses as well as Introduction to Sociology. At the University of Georgia, I taught the department's required undergraduate Sociological Theory course, a course on Gender and Work, Introduction to Sociology and a class about The Life Course. Through four years of teaching, I have consistently received outstanding student evaluations for my effectiveness, preparation, and ability to guide classroom discussions.

Areas of Expertise (10)

Sexual Harassment

Mental Health

Identity Processes in Transition to Adulthood

Sociology of health and illness

Sociology of Health Care

Social Psychology

Social Stress

Sexual Victimization

Gender and Work

Social Determinants of Health

Education (3)

University of Georgia: Ph.D., Sociology 2018

University of Georgia: M.A., Sociology 2012

University of North Carolina Asheville: B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Ethics and Social Institutions 2009

Articles (9)

Justice Perceptions, Sexual Identity, and Race: Likelihood of Police Reporting Intentions Following Sexual Assault

Sage Journals

Elizabeth Culatta, Kaitlin M. Boyle, Tara E. Sutton


Perceptions of law enforcement shape a willingness to report crime and are particularly important for sex crimes and among groups oppressed or neglected by the legal system. We examine three types of perceptions of justice—the fairness of outcomes (distributive), procedures (procedural), and victim treatment (interpersonal). We expect each measure of justice perceptions to increase the likelihood of reporting, or recommending a friend report, a hypothetical sexual assault to police. Our survey of 18- to 24-year-old women (N = 1,414) oversampled women of color and stratified the sample by educational attainment. In a series of path analyses, we find full support for our hypotheses about reporting one’s own sexual assault and partial support for encouraging a friend to report based on perceptions of three forms of justice. In addition, we examined indirect effects of sexual identity and race on reporting intentions and discuss how those patterns are partially driven by negative perceptions of justice.

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Preparing for Medical School: How Sociology Helps Premedical Students Prepare for the MCAT and beyond

Sage Journals

Elizabeth Culatta, Melissa Powell-Williams, Kim Davies


Educators have recently highlighted the importance of social science courses for students entering the medical field. This has led to the inclusion of sociological theories and concepts on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), a requirement for any student seeking formal medical training. Using open-ended survey data responses provided by students who recently completed the MCAT, we explore how students perceive that sociology courses prepare them for the MCAT and their lives more generally. We find that students report that their sociology courses introduced them to key concepts and laid a foundation for material assessed on the exam, but those courses could improve by aligning with the MCAT structure by prioritizing application of concepts and critically analyzing case studies. Students also reported that sociology courses helped them develop empathy and inclusivity and use their sociological imaginations, which will ultimately positively impact their careers in the medical field and lives overall.

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Sexual revictimization: A routine activity theory explanation

Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Elizabeth Culatta, Jody Clay-Warner, Kaitlin M Boyle, Assaf Oshri

2017 Research has shown that victims of sexual assault are at a significant risk of revictimization. We use routine activity theory to predict how sexual victimization in adolescence relates to depression, substance use, and ultimately revictimization as a young adult.

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Gender and organizational justice preferences

Sociology Compass

Jody Clay‐Warner, Elizabeth Culatta, Katie R James

2013 Despite evidence that women and men possess similar workplace values, debate continues regarding gendered preferences for justice in the workplace. In particular, some have argued that women and men have fundamentally different justice orientations, which lead men to value fair outcomes and women to value fair procedures.

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Romantic relationships and health among African American young adults: Linking patterns of relationship quality over time to changes in physical and mental health

Journal of Health and Social Behavior

Ashley B Barr, Elizabeth Culatta, Ronald L Simons

2013 With trends in delayed marriage, scholars have begun to explore how a wide range of romantic relationships contribute to health. Although a welcome shift, this largely cross-sectional work ignores potential (in)stability in relationship supports and stressors thought to affect health.

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Exploring the Moderating Effect of Multiple Role-Identities on the Relationship Between Perceived Distributive Injustice and Psychological Distress

University of Georgia

Elizabeth Culatta

2013 The purpose of this research is to discover how the number and quality of role-identities affect the relationship between perceived distributive injustice and psychological distress. In order to examine the relationship between under-reward in the workplace and symptoms of psychological distress, I conduct several Ordinary Least Squared regressions using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to determine if a count of up to 8 roles moderates this association.

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“I’m an adult now”: Health risk behaviors and identifying as an adult

Journal of Health Psychology

Elizabeth Culatta, Jody Clay-Warner


Is identifying as an adult associated with lower rates of participation in risky behaviors? This study focuses on how identity affects health behaviors for young adults. We use an original sample of over 500 18- to 29-year-olds in the United States to explore how self-identification as an adult is associated with three clusters of health risk behaviors: substance use, risky sexual behavior, and risky driving behavior. Consistent with our predictions, we find that viewing oneself as an adult is associated with lower levels of participation in each of the health risk behavior outcomes.

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Microaggressions and Mental Health at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in Graduate and Law School

Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education

Kaitlin Boyle, Elizabeth Culatta, Jennifer L Turner, Tara E Sutton


There is a proliferation of research on the effects of microaggressions among undergraduate students and in the workplace. However, scholars have not focused on biased interactions among graduate and law students, their capacity to create or exacerbate health inequities, and the types of support that might mitigate these effects. In two studies, we center minoritized graduate and law students—those who identify as women, LGBQ+, and/or people of color.

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Sociology is Essential for Students in Medicine – and Beyond

First Publics

Elizabeth Culatta


I love sociology majors. They have a unique perspective as they try to apply recently learned concepts and methods while grappling to understand the sometimes-broken systems in our society so they can change them from within and address the disparities they’ve noticed in their daily lives. Some of the sociology majors taking my courses are focused on specific instances of injustice, often related to a structural inequality that has impacted them personally. I had a transgender student in my class who was interested in educating others about the violence related to a trans identity. I have had female students involved with organizing a “Take Back the Night” event to raise awareness and reduce stigma around sexual assault. I had a student who was president of the Black Student Union (BSU) focused on hosting cultural events with the goals of providing a social support network for Black college students. In each of these examples, the students had lived experience in a minoritized role – and the language to talk about it. And importantly, they wanted to use their training in sociology to raise awareness and provide support and services to those impacted by structural inequalities. But because I work at the only public institution in Georgia to have a medical school and because I teach undergraduate medical sociology courses, most of the students in my sociology classes are not sociology majors. In fact, many of the people who take my class will only take this one class in the social sciences. This is their only formal exposure to sociology. And they see my course as just another box to check off their list towards their degree so that they can get to their actual career…in medicine.

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