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more about the peer relations lab

Children and adolescents' ability to successfully interact with peers is an important factor related to current and future psychological adjustment. Peers can be an important source of support for teenagers during stressful transitions or traumatic events. Peer relationships also can promote healthy social, academic, and behavioral development. However, negative peer experiences, such as peer rejection or bullying from peers, can contribute to disruptive or risk-taking behavior, anxiety, depression, and related psychological symptoms for some children and adolescents.

Our lab is involved in the study of peer relationships and adjustment across development – from early childhood to adolescence. We are interested in understanding how peer relationships might be a factor in psychological distress, and also how psychological impairment can reciprocally influence social development. The focus of our work is specifically on the links among peer experiences and health-risk behaviors over time.

interested parents

We are currently seeking participants. If your daughter is between the ages of 9 and 14, your family may be eligible for the UNC Girls Health Study. At this time, we are specifically seeking girls who have had difficulties with sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, or related symptoms. Families that are eligible earn up to $410 for participating ($335 for teens and $75 for parents). Compensation is given in the form of gift cards.

Call toll-free at 1-855-700-HEALTH or e-mail (GirlsHealthStudy@unc.edu) us today to see if you and your daughter are eligible to participate! Or, CLICK HERE to fill out our online query form and we will get back to you promptly!


During the one-time visit, participants privately complete questionnaires and discuss several topics including their friendships, their thoughts and feelings about themselves, and their current emotional circumstances. Participants also do roleplaying activities. After the visit is over, there are additional follow-up opportunities for those who participate, extending up to one year from the time of visit.

In addition to the benefits of financial compensation, participants generally enjoy and benefit from the experience of being in contact with our mental health staff through follow-ups over time. Most adolescents report that they enjoy being asked about their social lives and well-being.