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Image by Mec Rawlings


Directed by Dr. Gizem Erdem, our lab examines the role close relationships in youth development, risk behavior, and mental health. We explore relationships with peers, friends, romantic partners, and non-parental adult mentors in normative and high risk & adverse contexts. We are particularly interested in exploring the benefits of building strong and meaningful relationships for  youth and the mechanisms at which such relational processes could promote positive youth development and mental well-being. We also explore ways to prevent substance misuse and delinquency. 

We have conducted studies with youth who are exposed to various levels and types of risk, such as poverty, neighborhood disadvantage, criminal justice system, foster care system, to name a few. Check out our current & past projects here. Our applied projects examine the efficacy of intervention programs with a focus on changing youth’s interactions with parents, siblings, and non-parental adults.

We also conduct basic scientific studies and explore the association between relationship processes, youth well-being, and problem behavior. We use diverse research methods such as dyadic surveys, quasi-experimental and randomized controlled studies, lab experiments, as well as focus groups and participatory methods. 

We are an active research lab with graduate and undergraduate assistants, volunteers, alumni, and collaborators. If you are a graduate student passionate about family science and want to join us, contact us!

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