(Adolescents, Schools, Peers, and Interpersonal Relationships)

The aim of the ASPIRE study is to identify the affective and neurocognitive characteristics of adolescent social relationships that impact academic success and wellbeing. We assess the impact of family, peer, and romantic relationships on academic engagement. This is important because social relationships can help teens navigate the path to school and career success, but they can also pose challenges, and at times, hinder engagement in school. We partnered with two local high schools and collected data from 99 dating adolescent couples. This sample consisted of 42% Hispanic/Latino, 42% White, and 16% African-American, Asian American, Native American teens. These adolescent couples participated in a laboratory study at Arizona State University that included observations of conflict discussions, survey assessments, dual-acquisition EEG while playing an interactive computer game, and salivary stress physiology assessments. Participants were also tracked longitudinally for 12-weeks using mobile ecological momentary assessments.

Principal Investigator: Thao Ha

Graduate students: Adam Rogers, Frank Poulsen, Charlie Champion, Katie Panza

Funding: T. Denny Sanford School of Family and Child Dynamics



(ASU Support for Success Initiative for Students Transitioning to College)

The ASSIST Study, a collaboration among REACH, ASU Educational Outreach & Student Services, and the Department of Psychology, seeks to better understand the challenges students face as they move from high school into the college environment. The primary goal of ASSIST is to learn from ASU incoming students in order to develop a web-based prevention program that promotes strategies and tools for a successful college transition. ASSIST uses a multi-method approach, including twice-weekly diaries, questionnaires, focus groups, and academic records, to assess students and parents before, during, and after the transition to college to better understand the experiences and coping strategies that predict success and well-being. These data will directly inform the design of support services for parents and students in an effort to increase the likelihood of positive adjustment and decrease problematic behavior and drop out.

Multiple Principal Investigators: Thao Ha, Leah Doane, William Corbin, and Thomas Dishion

Graduate students: Scott van Lenten and Will Pellham

Funding: ASU Educational Outreach and Student Services, the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, the Department of Psychology and the REACH Institute

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The ability to form and maintain healthy relationships is a key developmental milestone in early adulthood, and the resulting relationship dynamics form the foundation for family stability and health. This study is focused on brain responses of romantic couples in new relationships during game playing with their partner. Specifically, we will investigate how couples’ brains react on a millisecond level to a computerized game using encephalogram (EEG) neural assessments. Moreover, we relate these brain responses to their observed relationship dynamics and their academics, emotional adjustment, as well as alcohol and drug use.

Principal investigator: Thao Ha

Graduate students: Ryan Hampton

Funding: Arizona State University



TIES Study: Tucson Interpersonal and Educational Success study

We partnered with a large school district in the Southwest to study how school and social connectedness can improve students’ school engagement, academic success, health, and wellbeing over time. We expect that students who feel connected to school and who engage in supportive relationships will show improved social and emotional skills that help their continued engagement in academic pursuits, promoting academic success. Furthermore, we investigate how a students’ ability to navigate student support services can promote academic success.

Principal Investigator: Thao Ha

Co-Investigators: Olga Kornienko (George Mason University), Adam Rogers (Brigham young University), and Katharine H. Zeiders (University of Arizona)

Funding: Arizona State University



The Relationship Dynamics study examines how alcohol use and drug use and abuse affect the formation and quality of young adult intimate relationships. This longitudinal research builds on existing data that involves a multiethnic sample of 999 youth and families assessed at youth age 11-12, 12-13, 13-14, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19, 22-23, and 23-24 years. Approximately 400 committed couples are interviewed, involved in videotaped interactions, and participate in momentary assessments for 1 year. Analyses will focus on understanding stability and change in alcohol use and drug use and abuse in early adulthood relative to changing relationships and activity lifestyles, in the context of developmental trajectories of problem behavior from early adolescence through adulthood. The study will inform the design of the Relationship Check-up and other interventions for use in a variety of service contexts-such as postsecondary education, social services, and the military- to support young adults navigation of complex issues of lifestyle and partner selection as they form families and long-term committed relationships.

Principal Investigator: Thao Ha

Co-I: Mark Van Ryzin (Oregon Research Institute), Jenn Yun Tein (ASU)

Funding: National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA; R01 AA022071)



This study builds on the same sample as in the Relationships Dynamics grant. This grant enabled us to genotype the participants and their romantic partners. These data will be used to address the following hypotheses: (a) the disrupted self-regulation hypothesis, that adult problem behavior generally and addictive behavior specifically are part of an overall pattern of adaptation that is characterized by a low-investment strategy in respect to family relationships and other adult milestones, with low demands on self-regulation; (b) the genetic moderation hypothesis, indicating that the effects of poor parental monitoring and deviant peer exposure on progressions in AOD use and other problem behaviors are most pronounced for youth who are genetically vulnerable; and (c) the risk malleability hypothesis, which proposes that early environmental risk can be modified and that these effects are especially pronounced for genetically prone youth.

Principal Investigator: Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant

Co-I: Thao Ha, Jen Yun Tein

Funding: National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA007031)