H. Harrington (Bo) Cleveland 

photo of H. Cleveland

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Contact Information

310B Health & Human Development East
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16803


(fax) 814-863-7963




Research Interests

My research focuses on the intersection of genetic and environmental influences. I am particularly interested in the contextual moderation of both genetic and shared environmental influences on adolescent risk behaviors. On the household level, I have examined differences in genetic influences on adolescent drinking across levels of parental drinking, finding greater heritability for these behaviors in households with drinking parents. On a larger contextual level, I have used the Census data available in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine moderation of genetic and shared environmental influences on adolescent aggression across levels of neighborhood disadvantage. Consistent with the sociological theory of social disorganization, this study revealed greater shared environmental influences in more disadvantaged neighborhoods.

A related interest is using genetically informative designs to examine causal hypotheses and putative mechanisms regarding the links between adolescent experiences and later outcomes, both positive and negative. I was motivated to take up this line of work by several of my studies that suggested evocative and active G-E correlations involving received parenting and exposure to peer substance use. The results of these studies led me to consider the importance of using genetically informative designs to account for shared household influences and genetic influences on longitudinal associations. As part of this work, I have used a within-twin pair difference score approach to address the meaning of associations between adolescent marijuana use and young adult hard drug use. This study finds that this ‘gateway’ drug association survives controls for ‘common’ household environments and adolescent peer marijuana use, but not for genetic influences.

An additional area of my research does not apply behavioral genetic methods – at least not yet. This line of work focuses on the daily use of social and self support strategies. A current project in this area examines the daily use of 12 step social support among young adults in recovery from substance abuse. This is the first project to examine the daily mechanisms through which the 12-step recovery process is purported to function. Subsequent analyses with this data set will consider the day to day role of social networks in maintaining abstinence. In the future, I hope to apply behavioral genetic methods to the study of daily experiences.


B.A., 1988, Political Science, St. Mary's College of Maryland
J.D., 1991, Boston College Law School
Ph.D., 1998, Family Studies and Human Development, University of Arizona


Barnie E. Rushing Outstanding Researcher Award for the College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. 2007.

Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Research Award Nominee for the College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University. 2006. 

Professional Experience

2007- Present, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University

2003-2007, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University

2000-2003, Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

1998-2000, Post-Doc, NICHD, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Selected Publications

Cleveland, H. H., & Wiebe, R. (In Press). Understanding the Progression from Adolescent Marijuana Use to Young Adult Serious Drug Use: Gateway Effect or Developmental Trajectory? Development and Psychopathology.

Fischer, J. L, Fitzpatrick, J., & Cleveland, H. H. (In Press). Multiple Pathway Models Linking Family Functioning to Dating Relationship Quality via Personality and Behavior. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Cleveland, H. H., Harris, K. S., Baker, A., Herbert, R., & Dean, L. R. (In Press). Characteristics of a Collegiate Recovery Community: Safe Haven in an Abstinence Hostile Collegiate Environment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Caldwell, R., Wiebe, R., & Cleveland, H. H. (2006). The Influence of Future Certainty and Contextual Factors on Delinquent Behavior and School Adjustment among African American Adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 35, 587-598.

Vazsonyi, A., Cleveland, H. H., & Wiebe, R. (2006). Contextual Effects on the Relationships between Risk Factors and Risk Behaviors. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33, 511-541.

Cleveland, H. H., Wiebe, R., & Rowe, D. C. (2005). Genetic Influences on Associations with Substance Using Peers. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 166, 153-169.

Fischer, J., Fitzpatrick, J., & Cleveland, H. H (2005). Binge Drinking in the Context of Dating Relationships. Addictive Behaviors, 30, 1486-1516.

Cleveland, H. H., & Gilson, M. (2004). The Increased Importance of Mother-child Relationships on Sexual Behaviors of Adolescents in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, 319-329.

Cleveland, H. H., & Crosnoe, R. (2004). Individual Variation and Family-Community Ties: A Behavioral Genetic Analysis of the Intergenerational Closure in the Lives of Adolescent Boys and Girls. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19, 174-191.

Cleveland, H. H., & Wiebe, R. (2003). The Moderation of Adolescent to Peer Similarity in Tobacco and Alcohol use. Child Development, 74, 279-291.

Strategic Themes

  • Human Development
  • Domains of Health and Behavior