Gender and Sexuality

Themes of gender and sexuality inform the majority of work in our lab. We study the impact of traditional and evolving conceptions of femininity and masculinity on personal identity and interpersonal interaction. We examine the meaning of sexuality and sexual expression and the ways in which in these contribute to physical, mental, emotional, and relational health. We focus on the politics of sex and gender and its role in shaping narrative, experience, and meaning.


Research Spotlight

Intimacy and PrEP

Image from the PrEP4Love Campaign.

Image from the PrEP4Love Campaign.

In a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, we highlighted the role of intimacy in decision-making around pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a biomedical HIV prevention strategy.  We found that a desire for greater intimacy with partners was the most important motivator for choosing PrEP as an alternative to condom use. 

This paper sparked a detailed commentary by Kristen Underhill on the importance of these findings for future research, including focusing on the “secondary” benefits of PrEP use for relationships and expanding couples-based approaches to HIV prevention.

This research has also been credited by Jim Pickett as one of the “scientific bases” of the spectacular PrEP4Love campaign led by the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Chicago PrEP Working Group.

Citation: Gamarel, K.E. & Golub, S.A. (2015). Intimacy motivations and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) adoption intentions among HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) in romantic relationships. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49(2): 177-86.

Current Projects

Feminist Identity and Academic Achievement (Team Leader: Fikslin)

This study builds on past research on the association between feminist identity and positive outcomes for college women, and explores the interactions among feminist identity, egalitarian beliefs, and gender centrality in buffering against sexism and stereotype threat and promoting women’s academic achievement.

Choices in Relationship Understanding and Sexual Health: Project CRUSH (Team Leaders: Brill & Fikslin).  

This study aims to contribute to the literature on sexual decision making practices, particularly in relation to varying relationship models. It explores the differences in sexual decision making strategies, processes, and outcomes between individuals in ethically non-monogamous relationships (i.e. agreements that allow for extra-dyadic partners) and those in presumptively or explicitly monogamous relationships.

Stereotype Threat and Sexual Risk (Dissertation Project; Saboshcuk, PI)

This study applies the theory of stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) to the overt and implicit stereotyping and prejudice that gay men have experienced in regard to HIV and their sexual identity and behavior. It tests a theoretical model that contends that sexual identity threat (resulting from overt or internalized HIV stigma) depletes cognitive and affective resources, resulting in both impairment in decision-making processes and increasing the odds of sexual risk behavior.

Enhancing Gender-Affirming Sexual Health Care for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals (Team Leaders: Klein & Solidum)

This mixed methods project is part of our larger research agenda to identify social, behavioral, and structural factors that influence access to and utilization of sexual heath and primary care services among transgender individuals and improve the quality of care they receive. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection, we are working to develop a valid, reliable, and affirming assessment tool for engaging patients in conversations about their sexual health.  This project is funded, in part, by R01AA022067-04S1 (Golub, PI). Click here for more information on our Transgender Health research.