There is a mismatch between the static categories used as proxies for culture in health research and the fluidity of identities and practices identifed by cultural research. This mismatch is especially salient in adolescence, when identities and behavioral scripts are in flux. To achieve our long-term goal of advancing the basic science of culture and health, we have recruited an exceptionally strong network of scholars in sociology, anthropology, psychology, and public health who bring deep theoretical and methodological expertise in culture, health, and adolescence. The objective in this application is to conduct empirical examination of the implicit and explicit processes that link cultural identity and attitudes to health attitudes, behaviors and outcomes for adolescents. Psychologists have developed measures to tap implicit attitudes related to identity in many domains. Research with adults provides evidence that a) implicit attitudes help explain health behavior above the effect of self-reported explicit attitudes;and b) implicit attitudes can be "trained" to reduce risky behavior. Implicit attitude measures show great promise for advancing basic research, culture and health as they assess aspects of cultural "scripts" and attitudes relevant for health that are outside of conscious awareness or control. These methods are important for research on culture and health among adolescents as they can be assessed prior to engagement in risky habits. Major gaps must be addressed in order to realize this promise: a) Research focused on early and mid-adolescence, developmental windows critical for the internalization of cultural scripts relevant for health sexual health is absent;and b) substantive analysis of how effectively implici methods operationalize key aspects of culture is lacking. To address these gaps, our first specific aim is to create a sustained infrastructure for trans- disciplinary research to advance culturally-informed methods for assessing implicit attitudes. Our pilot project brings together experts in culture, implicit attitudes, and adolescent health to develop and pilot measures to assess implicit cultural attitudes related to health domains for Mexican American adolescents, a rapidly growing population with heightened health risks. In the pilot study, we address two specific aims: 1) Develop measures to assess adolescents'implicit associations linking cultural identity to (a) sexual health and (b) violence;and 2) Identify relationships among implicit and explicit attitudes regarding cultural identity and (a) sexual health and (b) violence. Our exploratory aim is to: Develop a protocol for assessing the effects of counter-stereotypical narratives on implicit and explicit attitudes regarding (a) sexual health and (b) violence.
The proposed Culture, Health, and Adolescence Network enables trans-disciplinary basic science on culture and health that is informed by theory and methods in anthropology, psychology, sociology, and developmental science. A pilot study with Mexican American teens integrates research on culture with implicit attitudes research, demonstrating the power of the proposed network's approach for developing innovative methods to assess - and ultimately influence ~ processes linking culture and health.