ResearchOur major research interests are in adolescent and emerging adult development, with a focus on two main questions:
(a) What predicts the individual differences found among adolescents and emerging adults with regard to risk taking, academic underachievement, and media use (e.g., video game play), particularly in terms of different developmental trajectories, and how are these trajectories related to psychosocial adjustment?
(b) Is adolescence and emerging adulthood a sensitive period for development, resulting in unique vulnerabilities and opportunities for both negative (e.g., risk taking, depression) as well as positive behaviors (e.g., engagement in structured activities; spirituality)?
In order to answer some of these questions, we have conducted an longitudinal-sequential survey study of 3993 adolescents, from grade 9 to grade 12, and a 4-year longitudinal survey study of 1124 emerging adults. The surveys assess risk taking (e.g.,substance use, aggression, delinquency), intrapersonal adjustment (e.g., depression, nonsuicidal self-injury, suicide ideation, social anxiety, stress, life satisfaction), involvement in structured and unstructured activities, Internet/videogame use, interpersonal relationships with parents and friends, school culture, neighbourhood quality, temperament, sleep quality, spirituality/religiosity, academic achievement, parental monitoring, physical activity, coping, etc. The surveys are unique in their comprehensive assessment of lifestyle choices over time and are a critical extension to the extant literature on risk taking and positive youth development.
We also develop experiments where we explicitly test some of the hypotheses generated from our survey research. For example, we currently are conducting experiments on the relation between violent video game play and aggression. We also are using physiological assessments (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure) to examine the role of emotion in influencing decisions to become involved in social issues, and whether that differs between adolescents and adults.
Some current projects include:
(a) the bidirectional association between depression and externalizing behaviors across the high school years;
(b) the relation between video game play and competition/cooperation over time;
(d) different pathways of academic achievement across adolescence and how they are related to internalizing and externalizing behaviors;
(e) predictors of adolescent non-involvement in multiple risk behaviors across time;
(f) how nonsuicidal self-injury and suicide ideation in an undergraduate population are related to ways of coping, depression, stressors, academic achievement, as well as other risk taking behaviors;
(g) a longitudinal examination of the bidirectional associations among sleep quality, intraindividual adjustment, time management, and friendship quality among university students.
We employ a variety of research methods in our lab, from survey data, interviews, to experiments. Our lab has an eyetracker, physiological equipment, and access to a large longitudinal survey database conducted with adolescents that explores issues related to resilience and youth lifestyle choices.
Our lab facilities are located in the Lifespan Development Research Centre at Brock where we have extensive computer facilities, testing rooms, as well as access to observation rooms, interview rooms, a conference room, and lounge facilities.