Grantee: Todd Lucas

Todd Lucas

Todd Lucas, PhD

Health Psychology Researcher
  • Michigan State University

Dr. Lucas conducts research on racial and ethnic health disparities, as well as health and social behavior in urban environments. He is particularly interested in health-related cognition and behavior among African Americans. Dr. Lucas' program of research is informed by a long-standing interest in the psychology of justice -- the causes and consequences of perceived fairness. His contributions to the literature illustrate how thoughts about justice affect stress and health behavior, as well as psychological processes that connect justice to existing health and social disparities.

In collaboration with a range of scholars, clinicians, and community partners, Dr. Lucas is currently conducting experimental research on the use of health messaging (i.e., gain and loss-framed messages) to encourage colorectal cancer screening among African Americans residing in Southeast Michigan (Detroit and Flint). This research is also exploring whether message-framing can be culturally targeted to African Americans by including justice-oriented content, and the potential for broad and culturally targeted messaging to intersect with race-related cognitions (e.g., perceived racism and medical mistrust) that often affect receptivity to cancer screening.

The work of Dr. Lucas and colleagues is significant not only because it addresses an important cancer disparity among African Americans, but also because it aims to evaluate the impact of cultural differences on the effectiveness of a widely used health messaging strategy. Furthermore, this research has the potential to increase understanding of the way race-related cognitions and emotions underlie risk perception and response to health messaging. Ultimately, knowledge gained from Dr. Lucas' work carries implications not only for African Americans in the context of colorectal cancer, but for an array of prevention and screening-related behaviors that fundamentally contribute to a broad range of racial and ethnic health disparities.

Southeast Michigan has been the setting of my scholarly training as well as my career , and this context has greatly informed my sensitivity to the importance of justice for individuals and communities, and my appreciation for the potential that justice holds as a psychological solution to health and social problems.”

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