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Although each Axis covers a different part of the lifespan they are not meant to be discrete units but are instead intended to be somewhat overlapping.


Formation & Maintenance of Relationships


Issues related to the development of successful relationships across the lifespan that promote optimal outcomes form the foundation of the axis' activities. A variety of relationships are included under this umbrella including parent-child, sibling, marital, peer and friendships, parent-teacher, teacher-child, and romantic relationships. Theory and empirical work on different relationship systems (e.g., family, peer, teacher) indicates that the bi-directional nature of interactions is critical in understanding the dynamics and quality of relationships across the lifespan; it is also crucial to consider how different relationships, as well as interconnections between relationship systems, make distinct and complementary contributions to human development. Three main themes define the research activities in this axis. First, how are the basic social, cognitive, moral, and emotional processes of children's development related to issues of diversity in environment contexts (e.g., low SES, abuse), family structure (e.g., at-risk families), primary relationship subsystems (parent-child, peer), and the processes and strategies (e.g., conflict resolution) that promote positive socio-emotional development and healthy relationships. Second, pathways to successful development are examined, namely the identification of individual, family, educational micro-contextual (e.g., school, teacher-child, neighbourhood), and macro-contextual (e.g., policy, demographic) factors associated with the development and maintenance of successful and positive relationships across time (e.g., intergenerational transfer of risk and resilience; transition to school). In addition, we study the interactions between these microsystems, that is, the mesosystemic influences. For example, we examine the interrelationships between settings (e.g., home experiences related to school experiences and vice versa). Third, our work seeks to elucidate the antecedents and dimensions of relationships (e.g., early attachment, autonomy, communication, emotional availability, quality of the relationship over time), which are critical for prospective wellbeing across the lifespan. The main issues are addressed in a multitude of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies employing a wide range of systematic methodological approaches and tools.


(Axis Leaders: Annie Bernier, Melanie Dirks, Nina Howe)