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Couples Weather Bickering With a Little Help from Their Friends

Couples Weather Bickering With a Little Help from Their Friends

Every couple has conflict, and new research finds that having good friends and family members to turn to alleviates the stress of everyday conflict between partners. In fact, according to the study led by The University of Texas at Austin's Lisa Neff, social networks may help provide protection against health problems brought about by ordinary tension between spouses.

Welcoming New Faculty

Welcoming New Faculty

The College of Natural Sciences welcomes a number of new tenured and tenure-track faculty members to campus this fall. Whether determining the best ways to help disadvantaged families become stronger or examining prevention-based interventions that help communities, these industrious and trailblazing scientists build on the college's reputation for cutting-edge research and research-based teaching.

Binge Drinking Remains High Among LGB Youth Despite Increased Acceptance

Image courtesy of Kotivalo, via Wikimedia Commons


Despite increased acceptance of same-sex marriage and workplace equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people, many LGB youth continue to have higher-than-heterosexual rates of binge drinking, according to a new paper published today in Addiction.

Bullying and Bias Can Cost Schools Millions in Lost Funding

Illustration by Jenna Luecke

When children avoid school to avoid bullying, many states can lose tens of millions of dollars in funding, and California alone loses an estimated $276 million each year because children feel unsafe.

New research from The University of Texas at Austin published in School Psychology Quarterly highlights the hidden cost to communities in states that use daily attendance numbers to calculate public school funding. When children are afraid to go to school because classmates target them because of bias against their race, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation, schools lose tens of millions of dollars each year linked to this absenteeism.

"Bullying is a big social problem that not only creates an unhealthy climate for individuals but also undermines schools and communities," says Stephen Russell, professor and chair of human development and family sciences at UT Austin. "We are interested in the economics of bullying and how it can affect a whole school system."

Russell Recognized for Significant Contribution to LGBT Psychology


Professor and chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences Stephen Russell has received the prestigious Distinguished Book Award from Division 44—the American Psychological Association's Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues.

Commencement Speaker Helps Shape Young Minds Through Sesame Street


Before Elmo and Cookie Monster come alive on the small screen, childhood experts like Jennifer Kotler Clarke, Vice President of Content Research & Evaluation at Sesame Workshop, conduct experiments and review data to ensure these and other Sesame Street Muppets have the intended impact on children, parents and educators all over the world.

3 Lessons from Research About Supporting Mothers

Illustration by Jenna Luecke

Mothers have been celebrated and honored in the US for the last century on a national Mother's Day. But we all also know that families—and perhaps especially mothers—are under increasing pressure, financial, social and otherwise. Supporting mothers is critical for moms, kids, businesses and communities, and research from the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at UT Austin is pointing to what can be done.

With a Focus on Others, Graduate Lands Campus-Wide Awards

Marilu Sanchez receiving the Outstanding Student Award from Texas Parents Association from Rec Sports' Chris Burnett

While studying for her degree in Human Development and Family Science (HDFS), Marilu Sanchez—one of the world-changing CNS students graduating this month—dedicated herself to helping others.

UT Austin Family Sciences Program and Mathematics Among Top 10 in World Rankings


The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) has ranked the University Texas at Austin among the top 10 universities worldwide in three College of Natural Sciences subjects: Family Studies (#7), Mathematics, Interdisciplinary Applications (#1), and Mathematics, Applied (#5).

The Science of Relationships (Audio)

Illustration by Jenna Luecke

In honor of Valentine's Day, we're speaking with Lisa Neff, a researcher studying what makes happy, healthy romantic relationships tick. Neff is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. She answers several burning questions, including: What are the health benefits of romantic relationships? How can newlyweds avoid communication breakdowns that result from external stress? and, Do optimists make better partners?

Stephen T. Russell Named Fellow of National Council on Family Relations

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) has conferred its prestigious Fellow status on Stephen T. Russell, the Priscilla Pond Flawn Regents Professor in Child Development in and Chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.

A 90-Year Milestone at the Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory

Young children play on the porch of the original UT Lab School in 1928

On this morning, newspaper headlines herald Ma Ferguson's last days in the Texas capitol, Charles Lindbergh's plans to bypass the Atlantic by air, and Charlie Chaplin's divorce and tax evasion woes.

Sowing Seeds for a Life of Research

Image credited to Vivian Abagiu

Migration—within and between countries—can have profound effects on children and their families. It was economic migration in rural China and the impact on children separated from their parents that first piqued Yang Hou's research interest. Now a UT Austin human development and family sciences graduate student, she is studying the effect of social context on families from the two largest immigrant populations in the US—Asians and Latinos.

For the Holidays, Researchers Give Insights into Relationships and Dieting

Thinking about how to connect with distant friends and family? Searching for how to drop ten pounds in a week?

Who Learns at the Lab School?

Reading to children at the UT Lab School. Image credited to Vivian Abagiu

Everyone's engaged in the Lab School's Pecan Room. Fledgling engineers debate the construction of a block tower. Bookworms explore bright pictures unfolded on laps. Clothing tie-dyers fiddle with the gigantic plastic mitts covering hands. Artists converse while snipping florescent straws with blunt scissors.

Research on Corporal Punishment Prompts Federal Letter Calling for Practice to End

Research on Corporal Punishment Prompts Federal Letter Calling for Practice to End

This week—on November 22, 2016—U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. asked states to reconsider corporal punishment in public schools, noting that this form of discipline "is harmful, ineffective, and often disproportionately applied to students of color and students with disabilities."

A recent policy report by associate professor of human development and family sciences Elizabeth Gershoff showed that corporal punishment is not practiced with an even hand in the nearly half of the states where it remains legal. Gershoff and colleague Sarah Font analyzed 160,000 cases of corporal punishment from the 2013-2014 school year and found that children who are African American, have disabilities, or are male are more likely to be hit.

Busting the Myth that Living with Your Parents is Harmful

Young adults who live with their parents find that their relationships feel more tense, with higher highs and lower lows. But they are no worse off as a result of these daily experiences than young adults living elsewhere, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin.

Children Adjust Poorly When Parents Cannot Handle Normal Misbehavior

New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that children adjust more poorly when parents react negatively in direct response to their child's crying, fussing and other aversive behavior than if the parent is negative in general. Children who routinely experience negative backlash from a parent are also less successful at navigating social situations.

Professor Emeritus Karrol Kitt's Legacy

Drs. Stephen Russell, Elizabeth Gershoff, Lisa Neff, and Marci Gleason celebrate with Dr. Karrol Kitt in September.

Human Development and Family Sciences professor emeritus Karrol Kitt—vibrant, incisive, and perpetually poised to act—can distill her 38 years on campus into a metaphor that would be familiar to students who have taken her personal finance course. There, she talked about "the three-legged stool" approach to saving for retirement (stocks, bonds and cash), and now she says: "If my career were a stool, the three legs would include insurance regulation, student affairs, and education and research. I've had a wonderful career."

Schools Use Corporal Punishment Disproportionately

Schools Use Corporal Punishment Disproportionately

In parts of the 19 states where the practice is still legal, corporal punishment in schools is used as much as 50 percent more frequently on children who are African American or who have disabilities, a new analysis of 160,000 cases during 2013-2014 has found. Corporal punishment — typically striking a child with a wooden paddle — continues to be a widespread practice in disciplining children from pre-K through high school, according to a new study by Elizabeth Gershoff of The University of Texas at Austin and Sarah Font of Penn State University. The paper is published this week as a Social Policy Report by the Society for Research in Child Development.