Anna V. Song
Director of News and Social Media
Ever wonder why teens do the things they do – especially when they know their actions are dangerous or illegal? Getting to the bottom of the high-risk behaviors in teens and young adults is what Anna Song does. Her most recent work, the findings of which have been published in the American Journal of Public Health, focused on teen smoking. In short, part of the answer to why adolescents use tobacco, alcohol or engage in sexual activity are the perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs they hold about these behaviors. For instance, her tobacco use study found that contrary to the stereotype of the brash, non-thinking teen, young people do care about the risks and benefits associated to smoking.
Teens who believe smoking is very risky and holds little value are less likely to smoke, compared to teens who believe smoking is safer and is socially valuable. Her research examines why teens start smoking, continue smoking, become social smokers, and why they may eventually quit smoking. Her other areas of expertise include: factors that lead teens to become sexually active, how perceptions and attitudes affect risk behavior, how beliefs about risk change, the effectiveness of risk communications, and ethnic differences in risk behaviors.