Dr. Lefkowitz's research takes a developmental perspective on sexual behaviors and attitudes during adolescence and the transition to adulthood. She has addressed two major areas of research: (1) predictors of negative and positive aspects of sexual health; and (2) broader health and relationship implications of sexual health. Across her research projects, she includes individuals from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, and asks research questions about how fundamental processes may differ by factors such as gender or race/ethnicity. She has been a principal investigator, co-investigator, or faculty mentor on projects funded by the NICHD, NIAAA, NIA, NIDA, and the WT Grant Foundation. Current projects include the University Life Study, a measurement burst design study in which researchers followed college students across seven semesters to examine their sexual behavior, alcohol use, and other health behaviors, and the PROSPER Peers study, in which researchers are using social network data to better understand how peers and romantic partners influence sexual behaviors. Dr. Lefkowitz is also currently developing a new line of research on sexual violence on college campuses.
Areas of Expertise (8)
Transition to Adulthood
University of California, Los Angeles: Ph.D., Developmental Psychology 1998
University of California, Los Angeles: M.A., Psychology 1993
Brandeis University: B.A. magna cum laude, Psychology 1990
- National Council on Family Relations : member.
- Society for Research in Child Development : member.
- Society for Research on Adolescence : member.
- Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood : member.
Media Appearances (1)
No First Kiss? What to Know Before Your First Smooch
Teen Vogue print
“It’s true that by age 19, more teens have kissed someone than haven’t, but it’s completely normal either way,” says Eva Lefkowitz, a Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Connecticut. In her research on first kisses, she found that about 14% of 17 to 19 year olds had never kissed someone by their first semester of college. These older teens cite lots of reasons for delaying this milestone, like “focus on other things like school and extracurricular activities, feeling shy/inhibited, lack of interest, or lack of opportunity,” Lefkowitz says. No matter the reason for why you haven’t had a kiss, the biggest takeaway from Lefkowitz’s research is that there’s nothing wrong with the pace of your experience.
Fraternity membership, traditional masculinity ideologies, and impersonal sex: Selection and socialization effects.Psychology of Men & Masculinities
Waterman, E.A., Wesche, R., Leavitt, C.E., & Lefkowitz, E.S.
2019 Fraternity culture perpetuates traditional masculinity ideologies, but little research has considered the process by which men internalize these ideologies. Men may select into fraternities based on preexisting ideologies, or fraternities may have a socializing effect on ideologies.
Peer Acceptance and Sexual Behaviors from Adolescence to Young AdulthoodJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Rose Wesche, Derek A. Kreager, Mark E. Feinberg, Eva S. Lefkowitz
2019 Well-liked adolescents are more likely than their peers to engage in sexual behaviors, which may place them at higher risk of negative outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy. Yet, little is known regarding whether peer acceptance in adolescence predicts sexual outcomes in young adulthood.
Daily Associations Between Kissing and Affect During the Transition From Adolescence to Young AdulthoodJournal of Research on Adolescence
Eva S. Lefkowitz, Rose Wesche, Giorgia Picci, Anna K. Hochgraf
2018 Kissing during late adolescence and the transition to adulthood is prevalent, relatively frequent, and distinct from many sexual behaviors in that it affords positive consequences with minimal risk. In this study, we examined within‐person associations between kissing and day‐to‐day variation in affect.
Changes in Diverse Sexual and Contraceptive Behaviors Across CollegeJournal of Sex Research
Eva S. Lefkowitz, Sara A. Vasilenko, Rose Wesche & Jennifer L. Maggs
2018 Researchers have made repeated calls for a better understanding of normative sexuality development during adolescence and young adulthood. We examined how the occurrence of seven penetrative, nonpenetrative, and contraceptive behaviors changed longitudinally across seven waves, and how individual (gender) and contextual (romantic relationship status) factors related to these changes in a sample of college students (N = 730, M age = 18.4 at Semester 1; 51% female; 26% Hispanic/Latino American, 22% Black/African American, 30% Asian American/Pacific Islander, 45% White/European American).
The role of sexual mindfulness in sexual wellbeing, Relational wellbeing, and self-esteemJournal of Sex and Marital Therapy
Chelom E. Leavitt, Eva S. Lefkowitz & Emily A. Waterman
2019 In this study we examine the role of sexual mindfulness in individuals’ sexual satisfaction, relational satisfaction, and self-esteem. Midlife U.S. men and women (N = 194 married, heterosexual individuals; 50.7% female; 94% Caucasian, age range 35–60 years) completed an online survey.
Oral vs. Vaginal Sex Experiences and Consequences Among First-Year College StudentsArchives of Sexual Behavior
Eva S. Lefkowitz, Sara A. Vasilenko, Chelom E. Leavitt
2015 To fully understand late adolescents’ experiences of oral sex, we must consider both risk and normative developmental perspectives. Sexual experiences include a range of behaviors, but research on sexual behaviors and consequences focuses primarily on vaginal sex. Oral sex occurs at rates similar to vaginal sex, and carries some, though less, risk than vaginal sex.