Melissa Lewis

Melissa Lewis, Ph.D. | CV
Associate Professor, Psychiatry
1100 NE 45th, Suite 300, Office 314
Box 354944 Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 221-6932

For more information visit Dr. Lewis’ website:

Melissa A. Lewis, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Lewis received her doctorate in Health and Social Psychology from North Dakota State University in 2005 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington’s Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors in 2007. Dr. Lewis has been a member of the faculty at the University of Washington since 2007. As a health and applied social psychologist, Dr. Lewis conducts both experimental and survey research, which focuses on etiology and prevention of health-risk behavior. Much of her research has examined both deliberate and heuristic-based health-risk behavior decision making in adolescents and young adults. One area of risk behavior she is particularly interested in is how social cognitions such as social comparison, risk perceptions, attitudes, social images, and social norms affect decisions to engage in a variety of health-risk behaviors. Throughout her career, she has focused on uncovering why adolescents and young adults engage in health-risk behavior and how we can in turn use that knowledge to identify protective and risk factors as well as prevent risk. Her scholarly interests and pursuits focus on advancing the understanding of the dual processing nature of decisions to engage in health-risk behaviors and to inform theoretically sound and efficacious alcohol use and related risky sexual behavior interventions among adolescents and young adults. She studies social and motivational mechanisms involved in etiology and prevention of addictive and high-risk behaviors (e.g., drinking, risky sexual behavior, hooking up). She has particular expertise in personalized feedback interventions aimed at reducing drinking and related risky sexual behavior. Mechanisms in which she is interested include normative perceptions and protective behavioral strategies. Dr. Lewis also explores who might be more prone to take part in high-risk health behaviors, such as those who are more sensitive to social pressures. A fundamental assumption of her research is that because social pressures and influences have been consistently and strongly implicated in risky health behaviors, especially among young adults, interventions aiming to reduce susceptibility to these influences hold particular promise. She has previously been awarded the Addictive Behaviors Special Interest Group Early Career Award of the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapies, a Division 50 of the American Psychological Association Early Career Presentation Award, and two early career poster travel awards from Division 50 of the American Psychological Association and NIAAA. She has received grants from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and the Alcohol Beverage Medical Research Foundation.

Select Publications:

Lewis, M. A., Litt, D. M., & Neighbors, C. (2015). Chicken or the egg: Examining temporal precedence among attitudes, injunctive norms, and college student drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 76, 594-601.

Lewis, M. A., Sheng, E., Geisner, I., Rhew, I. C., Patrick, M. E., & Lee, C. (2015). Friend or foe: Evaluation of personal use and friends’ use of protective behavioral strategies and their associations to Spring Break drinking and negative consequences. Addictive Behaviors, 50, 96-101.

Lewis, M. A., Patrick, M. E., Litt, D. M., Blayney, J. A., Atkins, D. C., Kim, T., Norris, J., George, W. H., & Larimer, M. E. (2014). Randomized controlled trial of a web-delivered personalized normative feedback intervention to reduce alcohol-related risky sexual behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82, 429-440.

Lewis, M. A., Atkins, D. C., Blayney, J. A., Dent, D. V., Kaysen, D. L. (2012). What is hooking up? Examining definitions of hooking up in relation to hooking up behavior and normativeperceptions. Journal of Sex Research, 1-10.

Lewis, M. A., Litt, D. M., Cronce, J. M., Blayney, J. A., & Gilmore, A. K. (2012). Underestimating protection and overestimating risk: Examining descriptive normative perceptions and their association with drinking and sexual behaviors. Journal of Sex Research, 1-11.

Lewis, M. A., Patrick, M. E., Lee, C. M., Kaysen, D. L., Mittman, A., & Neighbors, C. (2012). Use of protective behavioral strategies and their association to 21st birthday alcohol consumption and related negative consequences: A between- and within-person evaluation. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 26, 179-186.

Lewis, M. A., Litt, D. M., Blayney, J. A., Lostutter, T. W., Granato, H., Kilmer, J. R., & Lee, C. M. (2011). They drink how much and where?: Normative perceptions by drinking contexts and their association to college student’s alcohol consumption. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 844-853.

Lewis, M. A., Granato, H., Blayney, J. A., Lostutter, T. W., & Kilmer, J. R. (2011). Predictors of hooking up sexual behaviors and emotional reactions among US college students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1-11.

Current Research Grants:

Informing Alcohol-Related Risk Intervention with the Prototype Willingness Model (R01AA021379) – Project EPIC

Evaluation of Brief Intervention for Young Adult Alcohol-Related Risk Behaviors (R21AA21767) – Project STARR

Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention (R01AA014576) – Project SNAP

Past Research Grants:
Personalized Alcohol and Related Risky Sexual Behavior Feedback Intervention Project

Recruiting Emerging Adults for Alcohol Use Screening and Brief Interventions via Social Networking Sites

Alcohol-Related Risky Sex Prevention (K01AA016966)