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Oklahoma State University

Michael Merten


Professor; Director - Center for Family Resilience

1101 Main Hall
Tulsa, OK 74106
Phone: 918-594-8318
Fax: 918-594-8281


Degree Institution Area of Study
Ph.D. Iowa State University, Ames, IA Human Development and Family Studies
M.S. Iowa State University, Ames, IA Human Development and Family Studies
B.A. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI Psychology


As a family scientist, Dr. Merten’s research focuses on the determinants of physical and mental health among children, adolescents, and young adults considering both family and community contexts. He has worked successfully with psychologists, sociologists, nutritional scientists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, and economists to form collaborative research teams that have yielded successful outcomes. Dr. Merten has extensive quantitative and qualitative data collection experience from racially and socioeconomically diverse families in Tulsa and throughout Oklahoma.


  • Eagleton, S. G., Fugate, C. S., & Merten, M. J. (2016). Improving self-efficacy and reducing provider bias: A family science approach to pediatric obesity treatment. In Harrist, A. & Welch, G. (Eds.). Living with a chronic condition: helping families survive and thrive. Springer: New York.   

  • Zapata Roblyer, M. I., Carlos, F. L., Merten, M. J., Gallus, K., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2016). Psychosocial factors associated with depressive symptoms among Latina immigrants living in a new arrival community. Journal of Latino Psychology. doi:10.1037/lat0000068

  • Banford Witting, A., Lambert, J., Wickrama, K.A.T., Thanigaseelan, S., & Merten, M. J. (2016). War & disaster in Sri Lanka: Depression, family functioning and health among women heading households. International Journal of Social Psychiatry.

  • Eagleton, S., Williams, A. L., & Merten, M.J. (2016). Perceived behavioral autonomy and trajectories of depressive symptoms from adolescence to adulthood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 198-211.
  • Zapata Roblyer, M. I., Grzywacz, J. G., Cervantes, R. C., & Merten, M.J. (2016). Stress and alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use among Latino adolescents in families with undocumented immigrants. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 475-487.
  • Bishop, A.J., Randall, G. K., Bailey, W. A., & Merten, M.J. (2015). Experience of parental marital dissolution earlier in life and the disposition to forgive among older violent and non-violent prisoners. Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging, 27, 108-124.
  • Cox, R. B., Shreffler, K.M., Merten, M.J., Schwerdtfeger, K. L., & Dowdy, J. (2015). Parenting, peers, and perceived norms: What predicts attitudes toward sex among early adolescents? Journal of Early Adolescence, 35(1), 30-53.
  • Williams, A. L & Merten, M.J.   (2015). Childhood adversity and development of self among mothers transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Journal of Social Service Research, 41, 398-412.
  • Williams, A. L. & Merten, M.J.   (2015). Characteristics of early community adversity and social resources and adolescent long-term mental health. Journal of Community Psychology, 43, 125-141.
  • Merten, M.J. & Williams, A. L.   (2014). BMI, self-esteem, and weight contentment from adolescence to young adulthood and women?s risk for sexually transmitted disease. Sexual Health, 11, 561-567.
  • Schwerdtfeger, K. L., Shreffler, K. M., Merten, M.J., & Cox, R. B. (2014). Interpersonal trauma and depressive symptoms in early adolescents: Exploring the moderating roles of parent and school connectedness.  Journal of Early Adolescence, online before print.
  • Williams, A. L. & Merten, M.J.   (2014). Linking community, parenting, and depressive symptom trajectories: Testing resilience models of adolescent agency based on race/ethnicity and gender. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43, 1563-1575.
  • Bishop, A.J., Randall, G. K., & Merten, M.J. (2013). Consideration of forgiveness to enhance the health status of older male prisoners confronting spiritual, social, and emotional vulnerability.  Journal of Applied Gerontology.
  • Cox, R.B., Zapata, M., Merten, M.J., Shreffler, K.M., & Schwerdtfeger, K. L.  (2013). Do parent-child acculturation gaps affect early adolescent Latino alcohol use? A study of the probability and extent of use. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 8(4). doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-8-4.
  • Williams, A. L. & Merten, M.J.   (2013). Romantic relationships among women experiencing obesity: Self-perception and weight as barriers to intimacy. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 41, 284-298.
  • Merten, M.J., Bishop, A.J., & Williams, A. L. (2012). Prisoner health and valuation of life, loneliness, and depressed mood. American Journal of Health Behavior, 36, 275-288.
  • Seegan, P., Welsh, K., Plunkett, S. W., Merten, M.J., & Sands, T. (2012). Neighborhood, parenting, and individual qualities related to adolescent self-efficacy in immigrant families. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40, 348-360.
  • Wickrama, T., Merten, M.J., & Wickrama, K. A. S. (2012). Early community influence on young adult physical health: Racial/ethnic and gender differences. Advances in Life Course Research, 17, 25-33.
  • Wickrama, T., Merten, M.J., & Wickrama, K.A. S. (2012). Early socioeconomic disadvantage and young adult sexual health. American Journal of Health Behavior, 36, 834-848.
  • Bishop, A.J. & Merten, M.J.   (2011). Risk of comorbid health impairment among older male offenders. Journal of Correctional Healthcare, 17, 34-45. doi: 10.1177/1078345810385912..
  • Houltberg, B. J., Henry, C. S., Merten, M.J., & Robinson, L. C. (2011). Adolescent perceptions of family connectedness, intrinsic religiosity, and depressed mood. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20, 111-119.
  • Merten, M.J. & Henry, C.S.   (2011). Family structure, mother-daughter relationship quality, race/ethnicity, and adolescent girls’ health risks. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 52(3), 164-186. doi:10.1080/10502556.2011.556966.
  • Williams, A. W. & Merten, M.J.   (2011). iFamily: Internet, social media, and family connectedness. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40, 150-170.
  • Merten, M.J. (2010). Parental health and adolescent obesity in the context of community disadvantage. Health & Place, 16, 1053-1057.
  • Merten, M.J.  (2010). Weight status continuity and change from adolescence to young adulthood: Examining disease and health risk conditions. Obesity, 18, 1423-1428. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.365.
  • Merten, M.J. & Williams, A.L.   (2009). Attitudes toward marital violence among college men and women: Does current dating status matter? College Student Journal, 43, 843-851.
  • Merten, M.J., Williams, A.L., & Shriver, L. H. (2009). Breakfast consumption in adolescence and young adulthood: Community context, parental presence, and obesity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109, 1384-1391. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.05.008.
  • Williams, A. L. & Merten, M.J.   (2009). Adolescents' online social networking following the death of a peer Journal of Adolescent Research, 24, 67-90. doi: 10.1177/0743558408328440
  • Henry, C.S., Merten, M.J., Plunkett, S.W., & Sands, T. (2008). Neighborhood, parenting, and adolescent factors and academic achievement in Latino adolescents from immigrant families. Family Relations, 57, 579-590. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2008.00524.x
  • Merten, M.J. (2008). Acceptability of dating violence among late adolescents: The role of sports participation, competitive attitudes, and selected dynamics of relationship violence. Adolescence, 43(169), 31-56.
  • Merten, M.J., Wickrama, K.A.S., & Williams, A.L. (2008). Adolescent obesity and young adult psychosocial outcomes: Gender and racial differences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37, 1111-1122.
  • Williams, A. L. & Merten, M.J.   (2008). A review of online social networking profiles by adolescents: Implications for future research and intervention. Adolescence, 43, (170), 253-274.
  • Wickrama, K.A.S., Merten, M.J., & Elder, G.H., Jr. (2005). Community influence on adolescent precocious development: Racial differences and mental health consequences. Journal of Community Psychology, 33(6), 639-653.

Courses Taught

Adolescent Development HDFS  3423
Family Dynamics HDFS  3443
Family Risk and Resilience HDFS  4423
Research Methods HDFS  5133
Community and Family HDFS  5563
Adolescence in a Family Context HDFS  5573

Awards & Recognition

  • Best Paper of 2013 in the area of Human Development and Family Studies, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
  • Outstanding Paper Award 2011, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
  • Best Paper of 2011 in the area of Human Development and Family Studies, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
  • Marguerite Scruggs Award for Early Career Meritorious Research, College of Human Environmental Sciences, Oklahoma State University (2010)
  • President’s Outstanding Faculty Award, Oklahoma State University (2010)
  • Winner of the Student/New Professional Award from the NCFR, November 2006, Minneapolis, MN. For paper entitled, "Family structures and adolescent health risk outcomes: A multi-level approach.”


  • Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education. Latino youth development in an agricultural context. Principal Investigator: Michael J. Merten, Co-I’s Jason Belden and Joseph G. Grzywacz, Oklahoma State University. October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014. $20,000.
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma Agriculture Experiment Station Project. Fostering aspirations, opportunities and success through a comprehensive mentoring program for families and adolescents in transitional housing. Michael J. Merten (PI) and Co-PI’s Ron Cox, Amanda Morris, and Amanda Williams, Oklahoma State University. (September 2008-August 2010; $80,376).
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma Agriculture Experiment Station Project. Conflict management and positive parenting intervention study. Amanda Morris (PI) and Co-PI’s Michael J. Merten, Carolyn Henry, and Matthew Brosi, Oklahoma State University. (September 2007- August 2009; $90,520).
  • Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services. (2006, October.). Determining individual, familial and community factors that influence young adolescent Native American dietary and physical activity behaviors. $47,102.

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Research on Adolescence
  • National Council on Family Relations


  • Board of Associate Editors, Health Behavior and Policy Review
  • Associate Editor, Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Youth and Adolescence
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Community Psychology