Krystale Littlejohn

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Occidental College
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About Krystale

Littlejohn’s research focuses on how culture shapes reproductive health outcomes in contraception and abortion. Her work lies at the intersection of health and medicine, race and gender, and social inequality. Two of her current projects investigate gender and women’s experiences using birth control across relationships and how medical providers talk about birth control in contraception counseling visits (with Katrina Kimport).   


"Contesting and Differentially Constructing Uncertainty: Negotiations of Contraceptive Use in the Clinical Encounter" Journal of Health and Social Behavior (forthcoming).

Analyzes just over 100 contraception counseling visits to understand how clinicians discuss side effects with patients. Finds that while some present the uncertainty of side effects in a straightforward, patient-accessible way, others negotiate their predictions by suggesting that positive side effects are likely and negative side effects are unlikely and, presenting the risk of serious side effects as controllable.

"Why Do Young, Unmarried Women Who Don’t Want to Get Pregnant Contracept Inconsistently? Mixed-Method Evidence for the Role of Efficacy" (with Paula England, Monica Caudillo, Brooke Conroy Bass, and Joanna Reed). Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World 2, no. 1 (2016): 1-15.

Presents quantitative and qualitative evidence that contraceptive inconsistency sometimes results from having too little efficacy, a concept that includes the subconcepts of planfulness, self-regulation, assertiveness, and believing that one can affect one’s goals.

"Consistent and Inconsistent Contraception among Women 20-29: Insights from Qualitative Interviews" (with Joanna Reed, Paula England, Brooke Conroy, and Monica Caudillo). Family Relations 63, no. 2 (2014): 244-258.

Analyzes rich qualitative data from interviews with 51 unmarried women, age 20-29, including complete sexual histories with detailed narratives on each partner regarding contraceptive use and discontinuation.

"‘It’s Those Pills That are Ruining Me’: Gender and the Social Meanings of Hormonal Contraceptive Side Effects." Gender & Society 27, no. 6 (2013): 843-863.

Argues that the gendered emphasis on women’s appearance and emotionality shapes women’s perceptions about the seriousness of hormonal contraceptive side effects, like weight gain and emotional volatility, and their propensity to stop use as a result. 

"Hormonal Contraceptive Use and Discontinuation because of Dissatisfaction: Differences by Race and Education." Demography 49, no. 4 (2012): 1433-1452.

Examines the effects of race and education on the likelihood that women have ever used particular types of hormonal contraception and have ever discontinued hormonal contraception because of dissatisfaction.