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.

Young Adult Follow-up

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

We are asking participants to complete a 40-50 minute online survey. You will receive a $60 e-gift card in appreciation for your help. We would also like to reach out to one of your parents and romantic partner or friend to invite them to participate in an online survey about their relationship with you. As a thank you, they will receive a $30 e-gift card. If you are interested in filling out the survey, please contact us to receive the web link.

Please call / text 850.644.5722 or e-mail You may also send mail directly to:

Social Development Lab
332 Sandels Building
120 Convocation Way
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1491

Unsure whether or not you were a participant?

Let us know and we will help. Remember to ask your parents, as they provided permission for you to participate.


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.

Lab Director

heidi headshot

Heidi Gazelle, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Current Doctoral Students

Alexis Hughes

Human Development & Family Science
Doctoral Student

(336) 355-1070

Kayla Stange

Human Development & Family Science
Doctoral Student

(919) 627-7020

Current Practicum Students

Andria King

Meghan Litchfield

Xiomara Romero

Hannah Stein

Current Volunteers

Sheldy Dorsaint

FSU Collaborators

mcui headshot

Ming Cui, Ph.D.


Alexandria Meyer, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Psychology

Michele headshot

Michele Parker, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

joanna wu headshot

Qiong (Joanna) Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Former Students

Jessie Shafer-Lundin – Former Doctoral Student

Jacob Williams – Former Doctoral Student

Alexis Hughes – Former Practicum Student & Volunteer

Kristen Turner – Former Practicum Student & Volunteer

Michael Pierre – Former Practicum Student

Sheldy Dorsaint – Former Practicum Student

Taylor Carter – Former Practicum Student

Jenna Goins – Former Practicum Student

Madelynn Bryant – Former Practicum Student

Zoraida Martinez – Former Practicum Student

Frankie Tibbitts-Bryce – Former Practicum Student

Annika Heetderks – Former Practicum Student

Starr Mandell – Honours Student

Samantha Solomon – Former Volunteer

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

Get in Touch

Call or Text
Lab Number 850.644.1588

Local Number 336.310.9286
Social Development Lab, 336 Sandels, 120 Convocation Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1490