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Authors: Sotoudeh, Ramina
Advisors: Conley, Dalton
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Culture
Relational sociology
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Human behavior is complex, embedded in social and cultural structures and influenced by human biology. Across three different but interrelated studies, this dissertation integrates epistemological approaches to why and how people and groups adopt behaviors. The studies in this dissertation reveal how 1) cultural, 2) institutional 3) network-based and 4) biological mechanisms interact and jointly shape adolescent risky behavior. Study I (co-authored with Dalton Conley and Kathleen Mullan Harris) identifies metagenomic effects among adolescents, finding that having peers with higher genetic propensity to smoke leads adolescents to smoke more. In doing so, it reconceptualizes the social environment to include not only the behaviors of one’s peers but their biologies as well. Study II assesses the relational consequences of institutional punishment and finds that smokers are more likely to cluster together in friendship networks when they attend schools that harshly punish smoking behavior. The extent to which clustering varies with punishment is moderated by one’s genetic propensity to smoke. Those with lower genetic propensity to smoke are more likely to exhibit clustering based on smoking behavior in higher punishment environments. Higher smoking homophily and the harshness with which one’s school punishes smoking are shown to be consequential for these adolescents’ adult health outcomes. Finally, Study III argues for more holistic approaches to the study of human behavior. It reasons that any given behavior is best understood as part of a broader ecology of potential behaviors. This intuition is used to uncover multiple configurations of behaviors among American middle and high school students. It assesses the extent to which institutional setting, friendships and family environments explain these modalities of behavior and show that outcomes for drug users are conditioned by how drug use is embedded in the broader behavioral ecology. Overall, the dissertation advances the development of an epistemologically integrated and multi-level approach to understanding behavioral complexity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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