Reaching Others University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

Jennifer A. Livingston, PhD

Jennifer A. Livingston, PhD

Senior Research Scientist

Educational Psychology

Contact Information

1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY  14203-1016
Phone: (716) 887-2380

Primary Research Areas

Impact of victimization on adolescent health and development, adolescent substance use and sexual behavior, sexual assault risk factors and prevention.

Peer Victimization as a Pathway to Adolescent Substance Use

Livingston | Miller | Testa | Derrick | Lucke | Nickerson
This research will examine the conditions under which bullying and sexual harassment among teens may contribute to emotional distress and the development of substance use.

Unfortunately, many youth experience abuse at the hands of their peers. Some experience few if any consequences, while for others, the consequences can be life-altering and severe. Little is known about the conditions under which peer victimization is most likely to cause harm and for whom. This research will examine the conditions under which peer victimization (i.e., bullying and peer sexual harassment) contributes to emotional distress and the development of substance use among adolescents, both acutely and over time.  A randomly selected sample of 13-15 year-old adolescents (N=950) will be recruited from the community to participate in a two-year longitudinal survey study of peer victimization, emotional adjustment, and substance use.  An 8-week daily process study will be embedded within the longitudinal survey to capture daily experiences of peer victimization and acute responses among a sub-sample of victimized students.  This multi-method approach will enable us to identify the circumstances under which peer victimization is deleterious and for whom, as well as potential protective factors that can be targeted for intervention.  Kathleen Miller, Maria Testa, Jaye Derrick, Joe Lucke and Amanda Nickerson (Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention, Graduate School of Education, UB) are the Co-Investigators on the study. Funded by a grant of $1.8 million from NIAAA, 2013-18.

Developmental Pathways of Teen Dating Violence in a High-Risk Sample

Livingston | Eiden | Leonard
Researchers will explore the effect of early childhood risks, such as parental alcoholism, on teens’ involvement with dating violence.

This project will examine the developmental risk and protective factors associated with involvement in teen dating violence (TDV). An additional wave of data will be collected from an existing longitudinal sample of adolescent girls and boys, who are currently in Grades 11-12. This sample of youth was originally recruited at 12 months of age, along with their parents, for an NIAAA-funded study of the effects of parental alcoholism on child development (Parenting and Infant Development Study, Rina Eiden, PI). The participants have been assessed at key developmental points since 12 months of age, with the most recent wave of data collection occurring at Grade 8. A dynamic cascade model of development will be used to explore the progression from early childhood (i.e., parental alcoholism and parenting behaviors) and early adolescent (i.e. social competence, self-regulation, substance use) risk factors to involvement in TDV during late adolescence. Co-Investigators on the project are Dr. Rina Eiden and Dr. Kenneth Leonard. Funded by a grant of $798,396, awarded by the National Institute of Justice, 2013-2015.

Identifying Sexual Assault Mechanisms among Diverse Women

Hequembourg | Livingston | Derrick | Collins
In this study, we examine sexual identity differences in the mechanisms associated with sexual assault.

Sexual minority women (i.e., lesbian and bisexual; SMW) have been identified as a group at particularly high risk for experiencing sexual assault, yet our justice system often inadequately responds to their needs. Experiences of bias and stigma contribute to lower rates of sexual assault reporting by this population, resulting in victims with unmet needs and fewer criminal prosecutions of assault perpetrators. However, few empirical studies have systematically examined SMWs' risks for sexual assault, the nature of their assault experiences, and their post-assault experiences. In this study, we use Respondent-Driven Sampling procedures to recruit a community sample of 225 lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual women (75 each group; ages 18-35 years old) from the Buffalo, New York region to examine sexual identity differences in the mechanisms associated with sexual assault. Baseline self-administered survey data will allow us to determine sexual identity differences in the relationships among individual-level risk factors (i.e., childhood sexual abuse, perceived discrimination, sexual history, PTSD, substance use and related problems) and adult sexual assault. Data from daily diaries administered via the internet will allow us to determine sexual identity differences in the temporal relationship between sexual assault and various mechanisms that elevate sexual assault risks (e.g., substance use, micro-aggressions, sexual partners). Qualitative, face-to-face interviews will allow for the identification of sexual identity differences in the characteristics of, and mechanisms associated with women's sexual assault experiences, particularly women's resistance strategies; assault consequences; and post-assault disclosure, legal reporting, and informal and formal sources of support. These mixed method results will provide novel insights to develop and implement culturally-sensitive services to better address diverse women’s acute needs at the time of a sexual assault and to improve long-term responses from criminal justice systems, including law enforcement, victim services, and anti-violence programs that serve lesbian and bisexual women. 

Principal Investigator
Amy Hequembourg, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

Jennifer A. Livingston, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

Jaye Derrick, PhD
Research Institute on Addictions

R. Lorraine Collins, PhD
Department of Community Health and Health Behavior
University at Buffalo

Funding Agency
National Institute of Justice


Sexual Harassment and Alcohol Use Among Adolescent Girls: A Pilot Study (funded by RIA Research Development Program). This pilot study involves conducting focus group interviews with adolescent girls ages 14 - 17 years, to explore their perceptions of cross-gendered peer sexual harassment and its relation to alcohol use and risky dating.

Adolescent Alcohol Use, Sexual Assault, and STD/HIV Risk

This Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from NIAAA provided five years of support to Dr. Jennifer Livingston for mentored training, advanced coursework and data collection in the field of adolescent substance use and sexual risk behavior. The first phase of the study involved running focus group sessions with female adolescents (14-17 years old) and, separately, with their mothers to gain a preliminary understanding of adolescent perceptions of risk and how these perceptions influence decision-making related to participation in risk behavior. The second phase of the study involved conducting a cognitively-based retrospective interview with 18-19 year old female adolescents regarding their high school experiences with alcohol, drugs, and sex. Dr. Livingston’s mentors on this project were Dr. Maria Testa, RIA, and Dr. Michael Windle, Emory University. Funded by a grant of $531,904 from NIAAA, 2005-2011.

Alcohol and Women’s Responses to Sexual Aggression

This study examined the impact of alcohol on women’s ability to recognize and respond to risk of sexual aggression. One of the preliminary results was that alcohol consumption impairs women’s ability to recognize subtle sexual aggression cues and subsequently lowers intentions to engage in resistance strategies. Funded by a grant of $351,876 from NIAAA, 2002-2006.

Preventing Alcohol-related STD/HIV and Assault

Alcohol use is implicated in many incidents of indiscriminate sex and sexual assault. In this study, Dr. Maria Testa investigated whether reducing alcohol use among young women, through a parent-based intervention, might be an effective means of preventing STD/HIV infection and sexual assault. This randomized clinical trial examined the effectiveness of a parent-based intervention designed to reduce binge drinking and negative sexual outcomes among women entering college. Funded by an award of $1,962,500 from NIAAA, 2003-2009.