Lindsay Till Hoyt Receives Child Development Research Award

Lindsay Till Hoyt Receives Child Development Research Award

Lindsay Till Hoyt

Lindsay Till Hoyt, a doctoral student in the Human Development and Social Policy Program, was one of five recipients of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Dissertation Funding Award. Her research is putting a positive spin on adolescence as time of opportunity rather than problems.

The Society gives Dissertation Research Funding Awards for dissertation research proposals that merit special recognition and offer the strong potential to contribute to the field of child development.

“I am interested in social and psychological influences on health and development,” says Hoyt. Her research for her master's thesis, entitled "Happy Youth, Healthy Adults,” found that positive well-being in adolescence predicted better health in young adulthood.

She examined the longitudinal association between positive well-being and future health and health behaviors, using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. She also studied stress physiology, interpersonal relationships and health inequalities.

“More than any other period of life, the adolescent years are widely regarded as a time of social, behavioral and psychological problems. Both scientific literature and popular media are flooded with negative images of teenagers as moody, delinquent and rebellious. However, my dissertation work takes the opposite approach and builds on the fact that adolescence is also a period of opportunity: Positive emotions and characteristics are important for healthy development.”

Hoyt's research demonstrated that “positivity,” meaning positive emotions, self-esteem, optimism and perceived social acceptance, in adolescence was associated with better self-reported health and fewer risky health behaviors in early adulthood. In a series of three studies, her doctoral dissertation will expand this work by using two longitudinal data sets, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative methods.

“I examine the relationship between positivity and objective measures of physical health and incorporate physiological measures of stress, an important pathway between psychosocial experiences and physical health. Together, these three studies contribute empirical support for applying a positive youth development framework to the study of adolescent health, stress, and well-being,” she says.

Her plans related to youth development extend well beyond her dissertation. “I hope to continue to promote positive youth development in my future career as a teacher, mentor, researcher and advocate,” says Hoyt.

At Northwestern, Hoyt is a member of the Cluster for Society, Biology, and Health, an interdisciplinary graduate training environment that fosters innovative research on the associations among human biology, society and health. She also is a graduate student affiliate of the Institute of Policy Research (IPR) and Cells to Society (C2S). She works with SESP professors Emma Adam and Lindsay Chase-Lansdale.

The Society for Research in Child Development is a multidisciplinary professional association with a membership of approximately 5,500 researchers, practitioners, and human development professionals from more than 50 countries, dedicated to promoting multidisciplinary research in the field of human development. Since 2008 the Student and Early Career Council of the Society has given up to five Dissertation Research Funding Awards each year in the amount of $2,000 for exceptional dissertation research proposals.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/4/12