The Center for Youth Relationship Development conducts research, develops interventions, and educates students and professionals to improve understanding of the emotional and cognitive processes in relationships. Satisfying relationships are central for mental and physical health.
For most American youth, initiating, maintaining, and dissolving romantic relationships are challenging life tasks to which they devote considerable energy. For youth who were maltreated as children or who are victimized in their relationships, these tasks may be particularly difficult.
The Center for Youth Relationship Development at TCNJ seeks to understand emotional and cognitive processes that help explain which youth are likely to develop relationship problems. A particular interest is youth with a history of victimization. Research at the Center integrates work on the development of romantic life with that on victimization and sexuality. The focus is on multiple facets of romantic life, considering not only romantic relationships but also romantic experiences that occur when a romantic relationship per se does not exist (for example "hooking up", sexual relationships, and passionate friendships). Romantic development will be considered in varied contexts including relationships with family, friends, and the larger social network that takes place in home, school, and community settings.
The Center will fulfill its mission by: 1) Conducting theory-based research using person-centered as well as variable-oriented methodologies; 2) Developing evidence-based interventions; and 3) Educating students and professionals on research findings and methods, and intervention strategies.