Jennifer Robinette is a health psychologist who views health and development through a social ecological lens. Each of us is born with certain proclivities that shape the degree to which we experience and maintain good health. Some of these proclivities are based in biology, such as our genetic inheritance, while others are dispositional – and even these two examples are arguably difficult to disentangle. Moreover, aspects of our social relationships, health behaviors, thoughts and feelings embed themselves in our biology. Over the course of our lives, these individual characteristics and experiences spanning multiple domains of our functioning shape our mental, physical, and cognitive health and well-being. Dr. Robinette’s research situates all of the above – peoples’ thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and health – in various contexts. Of primary interest is the examination of health in the contexts of age and residential neighborhoods. Older adults represent a large and rapidly growing segment of the world’s population, and older age is among the strongest risk factors for chronic health conditions. Using multiple large national data sets, Robinette has investigated whether neighborhood hazards increase risk for poor health, whether neighborhood resources decrease risk for poor health, and the degree to which peoples’ individual characteristics partially explain or even modify these neighborhood-health associations.
Dr. Robinette’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Aging. Her research is informed by methods and theories within the fields of psychology, demography, social epidemiology, and social genomics, and involves secondary analysis of data in the Midlife in the United States Survey and the Health and Retirement Study.