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Adolescence and Young Adulthood

The transition from childhood to adulthood is fraught with changes in emotion, cognition, relationships with parents, peers, and society. Thirty or forty years ago, the sequence of transitions from childhood to adulthood was predictable. Today, individuals traverse a variety of pathways as they go from the dependency of childhood to achieving adult milestones and independence. In the U.S., many individuals spend years finishing their education and establishing a foothold in adulthood. In some other countries, the pathway to adulthood ends sooner. Research on adolescence and early adulthood focuses on understanding cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity in paths through this protacted transition period.

Faculty Research

  • Sharon Christ
    Dr. Christ’s work focuses on the effects of maltreatment (abuse and neglect) during childhood and adolescence on adolescent well-being and development. A particular focus is on the question of how adolescent involvement in formal and informal groups outside the family impact development and may mitigate the negative impacts of maltreatment.

    Dr. Christ has also been studying how employment and the characteristics of employment during adolescence and young adulthood impact the health and well-being of individuals over the life course.
  • Aryn Dotterer
    Dr. Dotterer's work in this area examines the development of ethnic/racial identity, school transitions, academic achievement and school engagement, and parent-adolescent relationship quality.
  • Doran French
  • Blake Jones
    Risk for obesity increases during certain stages of childhood and adolescence, and the majority of those who become obese during these critical times often remain obese into adulthood. Dr. Jones is interested in understanding how to prevent obesity throughout childhood and adolescence and to help adolescents establish healthy routines that will promote health throughout adolescence and into adulthood.
  • Zoe Taylor
    Dr. Taylor’s research examines psychological, environmental, and biological processes that contribute to social and emotional development during the transition from middle childhood into early adolescence. In particular, she focuses on positive dispositional characteristics, as well as parenting behaviors, that are linked to positive development and competence in youth.
  • Shawn Whiteman
    Dr. Whiteman's research examines the family processes related to youth's family relationships and individual adjustment from adolescence into early adulthood. He is particularly interested in how siblings directly influence each other's attitudes, behaviors, and personal qualities during this period.