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Adolescence is characterized by increases in internalizing-type difficulties as well as the initiation of certain risk behaviors (e.g., experimentation with alcohol). Although most teens traverse this period with minimal difficulty, a significant minority develop problematic anxiety and substance use behaviors. It is this intersection of normative developmental experiences and clinically-relevant outcomes that the Teen St.A.R. Laboratory is most interested in illuminating.
We examine how individual difference factors (e.g., emotion regulation strategies) change across the period of adolescence and interact with contextual factors (e.g., facets of pubertal development; stressful events) to promote the incidence of anxiety, substance use, and their co-occurrence. To date, our primary foci have been the etiology of social anxiety and panic-spectrum problems, as well as how these forms of anxiety psychopathology relate to alcohol use behaviors among adolescents (i.e. ages 8-17 years). We are in the process of expanding our efforts to include a broader spectrum of substances (e.g., marijuana, prescription medication), as well as considering anxiety and risky behaviors in the context of emerging adulthood.
The Teen St.A.R. Laboratory is an experimental psychopathology laboratory designed to study "real-time" anxious responding produced by analogue procedures such as the Trier Social Stress Test and voluntary hyperventilation. In addition, we gather self-report, short-term prospective, multi-informant, interview, and hormonal (via salivary sampling) data.