Headshot of Eric Layland with blonde hair, beard, light blue shirt, and blue and white striped sweater.

Eric Layland


My research takes a transdisciplinary approach to studying adolescent and emerging adult individual development in a free time or leisure context. I am graduate student in both Human Development & Family Studies and Recreation, Park & Tourism Management. I subscribe to Bronfenbrenner’s and Gottlieb’s developmental frameworks, suggesting multiple levels of individual development and analysis, including context. As a NIDA Predoctoral Fellow (T32) through Penn State’s Prevention and Methodology Center, I focus on longitudinal analysis and evaluation of HealthWise South Africa, a substance abuse and sexual risk prevention program utilizing leisure as a prevention context. My current projects use longitudinal data from multiple cohorts of participants in trials of HealthWise. I am using this data to model timing of sexual debut and co-occurring risks in a competing risks analysis and additionally to compare generational differences between pre- and post-apartheid born generations with growth curve models of positive psychology, substance use, and sexual risk outcomes over time. During my master’s, I studied the role of leisure in adolescent and emerging adult development. I conducted an exploratory, qualitative study of emerging adults in a leisure context by leading a research team on a three-month field study across more than a dozen European countries, interviewing emerging adults about their lives and free time. I utilized discourse, metaphor, and content analysis to provide evidence for leisure as an important resource in emerging adult identity development, relationship building, and establishment of independence.