In the HERD Lab, we examine biopsychosocial models of the links between socialization experiences, neurobiological regulation, and the development of social-emotional well-being and difficulties. This work encompasses a diverse range of topics. The neurobiological processes we study encompass brain, autonomic, adrenocortical, adrenogonadal, and immunological functioning, and the relations among these. The socialization processes and contexts we study include family relationships, family structure and parenting behavior; peer behaviors and relationships; living in poverty or economic hardship; culture and ethnicity; and discrimination experiences associated with having one or more ethnic, racial, cultural, gender and/or sexual identity characteristics that are not considered “majority.” We examine these in relation to many topics: the development of physiological, emotional, behavioral and cognitive self-regulation; empathy, sympathy, compassion, prosocial behavior and altruism; play, peer engagement and social competence; depression, anxiety, suicidality and internalizing problems; aggression and externalizing problems; and substance use. We study these topics in the lab, in homes, in schools, and in other settings; we utilize observational procedures, behavioral tasks, computer-administered tasks, surveys and questionnaires, interviews, physiological assessments, and administrative datasets; and we work in several states of the USA and several countries across the globe.

There are unifying themes that cut across these many topics. We focus on individual differences between children, youths and parents – including the sources, manifestations, and consequences of individual differences – as critical facets of development, rather than being the “noise” or “measurement error” around central tendencies. We examine context as pivotal for providing meaning to measurement, as any given physiological change, emotional expression, or parenting behavior may have very different implications, depending on what it is made in response to or where it occurs. We implement cutting-edge quantitative methods to reveal processes of change and development across multiple time-scales, from seconds to years. And across all topics, this research is focused on understanding characteristics and development as being a function of coordinated processes at multiple levels, within the individual, between social partners, and across social, cultural and structural settings.

Interested in Participating?

We are currently recruiting adolescents to take part in our Adolescents’ Emotional Experiences and Decision Making Study.

This is a home-visit project, which means we will come to you whenever you are available for a one-hour visit in your home. For this project we are recruiting youths aged 11-15 years and one of their parents. Both the adolescent and their parent will be asked to complete a few questionnaires. The adolescent will watch a few short videos and play one computer game that involves decision making. During this time, the adolescent will have adhesive electrodes applied to their chest and hand to assess their heart and skin physiology during these tasks. As a way to thank youths for their time, adolescents will be compensated with cash valuing at $20.

This research project is being done in order to learn more about early adolescents’ social behaviors, as well as the types of decisions that adolescents make and why they make them. The study is not intended to change or help with adolescents’ behaviors and we are not qualified or trained to offer you those kinds of services to adolescents, parents or families. 

If you are interested in participating, please reach out to us at