The KLIFF/VIDA Project



Our group is currently pursuing two major projects, and we welcome interest in either or both of these. 


The Kliff Vida Project

The first is an ongoing longitudinal study examining the influences of social relationships, autonomy, and attachments to parents as they predict development from adolescence into adulthood.  We began in adolescence as the Kids, Lives, Families and Friends (KLIFF) project and are continuing 18 years later as the Virginia Institute for Development in Adulthood (VIDA).  In our study, we are working to learn how individuals as adolescents are influenced by their parents, interact with their peers, and go on to thrive (or struggle) in their adult relationships with romantic partners, peers, in the work place.  We also want to understand what it is in the teenage years that predicts not just a successful adolescence, but a successful adulthood—which we examine not only in terms of mental health and adjustment, but also in terms of physical health (e.g., immune functioning, cardiac risk factors, etc.).  This study began with 184 early adolescents, who we have followed since 1998, with 97% still participating as of our most recent round of data collection.


The Connection Project

We are also at the early stages of developing an intervention to change the quality of adolescents’ peer relationships.  We start from the recognition that, under the right conditions the adolescent world, rather than being a Darwinian struggle for survival, can be a source of support and encouragement.  In groups from well-run summer camps, to theatre troupes, to wilderness experiences to retreats, under the right conditions, adolescents are willing to gradually open up to their peers and let down their guard.  When peers can provide support and reciprocate, tight, life-changing bonds are often formed and endure.  We have been working to identify and replicate critical ingredients in this process.  The result is The Connection Project, a school-based program, based on cutting edge-research in the social sciences to enhance academic and life outcomes for at-risk teens.