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Spencer Olmstead

Spencer B. Olmstead

Associate Professor, Co-Director of the Well-Being in Adolescents and Emerging Adults Laboratory (WAE), Director of Graduate Studies


Olmstead’s research program focuses broadly on the sexual health and wellbeing of young adults. Specifically, it addresses young adult men’s sexual and reproductive health. The majority of his work draws upon two theoretical orientations: life course development and symbolic interaction. His attention has recently turned to understanding how early sexual health education may promote safer sex practices among individuals making the transition to college. He employs a variety of methods and analyses, and prefers a mixed-methods approach to studying young adults sexual and reproductive health and risk behaviors.


  • Young adults’ sexual and reproductive health behaviors
  • The intersection of sexual decision making during the transitions to emerging adulthood and the college environment
  • Father involvement
  • Sexual health and romantic relationship education and intervention for young adults


  • Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from the Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
  • M.Ed. in Counseling, Family, and Human Services (specialized in Marriage and Family Therapy) from the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, 2006
  • B.S.  in Sociology and Psychology (Dual Major) from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, 2004

Curriculum Vitae

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2014 - University of Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, 2014 Creative Teaching Grant, Re-designing CFS 240: Human Sexuality ($3,500, funded). PI: S.B. Olmstead.
  • 2014 - SARIF-GRA award to support a graduate assistant to analyze data from the Promoting the Sexual Health and Wellbeing of First Year Students project, University of Tennessee Office of Research ($3,600, funded). PI: S.B. Olmstead.          
  • 2013 - University of Tennessee, Professional Development Award research project: Promoting the Sexual Health and Wellbeing of First Year Students ($2,780, funded). PI: S.B. Olmstead.


Selected Recent Publications

Olmstead, S. B., Anders, K. M., & Conrad, K. A. (in press). The meanings for sex and commitment among first semester college men and women: A mixed-methods study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0777-4

Anders, K. M., Olmstead, S. B., & Johnson, E. I. (in press). The sexual possible selves and strategies of first semester college student: What do they hope for and fear and how do they plan to get there? Journal of Sex Research. Advanced online publication. doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1188877

Olmstead, S. B., Roberson, P. N. E., Pasley, K., & Fincham, F. D. (2015). Hooking up and risk behaviors among first semester college men: What is the role of pre-college experience? Journal of Sex Research, 52, 186-198. doi:10.1080/00224499.2013.843147

Olmstead, S. B., Billen, R. M., Conrad, K. A., Pasley, K., & Fincham, F. D. (2013). Sex, commitment, and casual sex relationships among college men: A mixed-methods analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 561-571. doi:10.1007/s10508-012-0047-z

Spencer Olmstead

Contact Information

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