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Karen Kochel's Lab

Lab Description 

In her Child Developmental Science lab, Dr. Kochel and her students posit and test questions about youth psychological, social, and school adjustment. We employ a developmental psychopathology framework, multi-informant survey methods, and the advanced statistical modeling of longitudinal data to shed light on developmental trends in middle childhood through emerging adulthood.

We recently completed data collection for a multi-year, school-based longitudinal study, Project YEARS (Youth Emotional Adjustment and Relationships in School) that we conducted to increase our understanding of how psychological difficulties, and especially depressive symptoms, contribute to, or result from, various forms of children’s peer relations, including peer victimization, friendship, and peer acceptance/rejection. Using these data, we have investigated questions such as:

  • Is social helplessness one process through which children’s depressive symptoms contribute to peer victimization?
  • Do depression-linked behaviors elevate children’s risk for peer relationship disturbances?
  • Does a supportive student-teacher relationship mitigate depression’s effect on peer victimization and rejection?
  • How do self- versus teacher-perceptions of social competence differ among sociometric and perceived popular preadolescents?
  • Does social competence buffer depression’s effect on peer victimization?
  • What is the association between gender atypical behavior and peer relationship difficulties?

We continue to analyze and present Project YEARS data.

Our lab group also studies multiple aspects of adjustment among college students. For example, we have investigated associations between social group membership and hook-up culture, the impact of inclusive pedagogy on achievement and sense of belonging, links between depressive symptoms, FOMO, and social media use, and the relationship between nature and psychosocial well-being.

Currently, we are in the early stages of a research project aimed at identifying factors that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on multiple aspects of college students’ adjustment, with a particular focus on elucidating racial and other disparities in COVID’s impact.