Social Development Lab

About our Research

Our research focuses on understanding how individual characteristics (i.e. social anxiety) and interpersonal relations jointly influence young peoples’ development, especially in terms of having healthy interpersonal relationships and emotional health.

We often focus on development during times of transition, including the transition to school, the middle school transition, and the transitions of emerging adulthood. Transitions are particularly fascinating periods to study development because individuals sometimes respond to changed environmental circumstances in ways that represent positive turning points in their life pathways.

Our current research makes connections between patterns of development in middle childhood and early adolescence and young adult emotional health and developmental milestones, such as education, employment, interpersonal relationships including romantic relationships, and having children.

In the future, we plan to start a new longitudinal project with toddlers to examine the effects of social learning processes and temperament on the development of anxiety in childhood.

Lab Director

heidi headshot

Heidi Gazelle, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Current Graduate Students

Meghan Litchfield

Recent FSU Ph.D. Graduates

Jessie Shafer-Lundin

Current Practicum Students and Volunteers

Would you like to join the Social Development Lab? Please complete an application.

Carlyn Berke

Olivia Boykin

Brianna Clinton

Carly Davenport

Mary McNair Krause

FSU Collaborators

mcui headshot

Ming Cui, Ph.D.


Qiong (Joanna) Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

M.A. Graduates

Jacob Williams

B.A. Graduates & Former Students/Volunteers

Madelynn Bryant – Practicum Student
Addison Bulloch – Volunteer
Taylor Carter – Practicum Student
Sheldy Dorsaint – Practicum Student and Volunteer
Jenna Goins – Practicum Student
Annika Heetderks – Practicum Student
Andria King – Practicum Student
Meghan Litchfield – Practicum Student
Zoraida Martinez – Practicum Student
Starr Mandell – Honours Student
Michael Pierre – Practicum Student
Xiomara Romero – Practicum Student
Samantha Solomon – Volunteer
Hannah Stein – Practicum Student
Frankie Tibbitts-Bryce – Practicum Student
Kristen Turner – Practicum Student & Volunteer
Jacob Williams – Practicum Student

Lab Director and Associate Professor Heidi Gazelle is interested in interpersonal and intrapersonal processes that forecast continuity in change in socially anxious children’s and adolescents’ developmental pathways over time. Her research is guided by a Child-by-Environment Model, which focuses on how socially anxious youths’ strengths and vulnerabilities interact with interpersonal supports and stressors in their everyday environments (school, peers, and family) to influence their social and emotional development.

Learn more

Media Interviews

Family Time: Dealing with anxiety as kids transition to middle school
 Read Article
The Daily News (Jacksonville, NC), August 2019

Why Transitioning from Elementary to Middle School is so Difficult for Students
 Listen to Audio
BYUradio, July 2019

FSU researcher: Leap to middle school is hard, but can be a fresh start for socially anxious children
 Read Article
FSU News, April 2019

“Being 12”
 Listen to Audio |  View Post
WVFS Tallahassee 89.7 FM, December 2018


Shy teenagers find it easier to be included by classmates when starting secondary school.
 Read Article
The Conversation, February 2016

Childhood shyness: When is it normal and when is it cause for concern?
 Read Article
The Conversation, July 2016


From 2005 – 2010, the Youth Wellness Project traced the development of 230 youth in North Carolina from third through seventh grade. We are now reconnecting with these youth in young adulthood and are fascinated to see the diverse life paths they’ve chosen.

Dr. Heidi Gazelle directed the original Youth Wellness Project and is currently leading the young adult follow-up. The project was originally located at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It is now located at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.

If you were part of the original study, we’d like to hear from you!

Get in Touch

Call or Text
Lab Number 850.644.5722

Local Numbers: Meghan (336) 310-9734 and Olivia (336) 904-3268
Social Development Lab, 332 Sandels, 120 Convocation Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1490