Research

Thematic Research Areas

Research in HDFS covers the lifespan, from infancy and early childhood through older adulthood. Across the lifespan, faculty address a number of topics in areas broadly defined as relating to:

Risk, Resilience, & Developmental Psychopathology

Faculty pursue research programs related to why at-risk individuals have favorable outcomes, processes related to developmental psychopathology and atypical development, the nature of risk-taking behaviors, and developmental disabilities.

Treatment, Intervention, & Prevention Science

Most faculty in HDFS are concerned with translational research: How to devise effective intervention and treatment strategies that are based on empirical evidence and careful program evaluations. Such endeavors encompass school-based programs, substance abuse prevention for youth and treatment for young adults, Extension programs, interventions that promote work/family balance, and evaluations of family therapy. Policy analysis also is a key part of prevention science.

Emotion, Regulation, & Relational Processes

Socioemotional processes are a focus of HDFS faculty research (e.g., emotional development; attachment) as are various aspects of regulation including self-regulation and emotion regulation. Such processes are essential to school readiness and success, which is a common thread of several faculty research programs. Relational processes include a focus on parenting, family caregiving, and family/school linkages.

Adult Development & Aging

Several faculty focus their research on emerging adulthood and development in midlife and the later part of the lifespan, as well as intergenerational family relationships. Developmental processes include healthy aging, awareness of age-related change, cognitive, and self-regulation changes across the adult years.

Cultural Context & Diversity

Consistent with HDFS’s basis in ecological theory, many faculty conduct research on cultural diversity, on gender and power dynamics in families, and on other forms of diversity. Also, multiple graduate courses are infused with content related to culture, ethnicity, and gender. Several journal articles describe our infusion model, and the department has been honored with awards for our innovations related to diversity.

Focus on Methodological Quality

HDFS faculty members have expertise in the application of sophisticated research methods and analytical techniques to basic research questions (e.g., dynamic systems methods, multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, daily diary methods, qualitative methods) as well as to real-world problems of program evaluation. Such expertise is invaluable as students learn to conduct research on complex social problems