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Research Nieuwenhuis Institute for Educational Research Youth Studies


In the research line Youth Studies, we study young people's development and adjustment in different social contexts. Key themes include peer relationships, peer-led educational settings, mental health in sexual and gender minority youth, young people's adjustment problems including internalizing and externalizing problems, and the culture of youth in three generations. To understand how youth are impacted by their social environments, a large array of empirical methods is used including population-based and longitudinal cohort studies, as well as qualitative interview studies and content analyses. Research foci include:

Mental health among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth

In this research area, we study mechanisms and risk factors of the wellbeing and behavior of LGBT youth. Baams' work explores experiences of sexual and gender minority youth, a vulnerable population in our society. In Baams' VENI project, she examines LGBT youth's mental health using large (longitudinal) population-based studies. In addition, Baams utilizes a daily diary approach to examine what daily experiences affect LGBT youth wellbeing on a micro-level. Baams' plans to examine macro-level factors such as laws and policies, closely align with the faculty's focus on societal resilience and the university's goals to work toward a healthy and sustainable society. In her PhD project, De Lange examines experiences with mental healthcare for LGBT youth with suicidal thoughts. In addition, De Lange examines whether suicidal ideation can be decreased with an intervention based on online cognitive behavioral therapy.

Youth participation and social development

Youth participation has become a highly relevant topic in societies worldwide. Within this research field, we study whether participation contributes to the social development of children and young people. Van der Ploeg’s work focuses on youth participation in scientific research and interventions. One of the central questions is to what extent the needs and experiences of youth match with the vision of researchers and policymakers.

We also pay attention to participation in the pedagogical domain of childcare. Schreuder's research focuses on the implementation of children’s participation in practice, based on the vision and experience of pedagogical staff. The aim of this research is to contribute to policy development for childcare organizations by determining whether and under what conditions child participation can have pedagogical value for childcare.

Family, peers, and youth development

The family and the peer group constitute important contexts for youth development. To this end, we study how family formation, specifically father absence, affects reproductive and psychosocial development in three cultural contexts, using a mixed methods approach. This focus challenges notions from evolutionary psychology that father absence has a uniformly negative effect by considering societies in which father absence is normative. As young people enter adolescence, peer relationships take center stage and become increasingly important for psychosocial adjustment. How do problems with peers impact development in the longer term, however, is hardly understood. Working with longitudinal, intergenerational and genetically informed data, we explore social development in a lifespan perspective.

Young people in higher education

Developing critical thinking skills is a central element of higher education. Within 'Learning Communities', one of the university's strategic spearheads, Blom and van den Bosch study how students develop a critical attitude towards research and how peer learning, the teacher and the educational space can play a role herein.

Youth in three generations

The youth-in-three generations project studies the intergenerational transmission of the youth world. The influence of societal processes, such as individualization, that may or may not influence manifestations of the youth world for different generations, will be described. Qualitative life-story interviews provide insight in differences and similarities of this youth world for three generations of one family

Last modified:19 March 2021 3.09 p.m.