VCU Psychology Department

Do physicians’ racial biases affect clinical decision making?

Research has demonstrated that automatic, and sometimes unconscious, racial bias can affect how we make decisions about others. But can it influence something as important as a medical decision? read more...


What affects parenting in high-risk communities?

We know that living in high-risk communities is stressful for parents and youth. How does stress, including exposure to violence, affect parents’ management of their adolescents? read more...


How can we predict future rates of tobacco use?

Longitudinal population-based surveys of tobacco use can depict current prevalence levels as well as transitions over time, but how can they be used to forecast those in the future? read more...


Can coping skills help the bereaved bend but not break?

How do college students cope when a loved one dies? Bereavement is difficult at any time in life, but is coping with bereavement different for college undergraduates? read more...

school lunch

Why are VCU researchers dumpster diving?

If school cafeterias force children to take fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays, will students eat them? Will they like them more over time when fruits and vegetables are served regularly? read more...


Dr. Wendy Kliewer

Professor and Chair (tenured)

Developmental Psychology (primary), Social and Clinical Child/Adolescent Psychology (secondary)


PhD (1989), University of California, Irvine

Contact Information

Phone: 804-828-8089

Office: 806 W Franklin, rm 105


Web site: Dr. Kliewer's Prevention Research Lab

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding stress and coping processes in children and adolescents. For the last decade I have focused on chronic stressors such as poverty and community violence. In particular, I am interested in the role of the family in mitigating, or alternatively enhancing, youths' risk for negative outcomes in the face of stressful life events and circumstances. I also have examined psychological, behavioral and physiological (e.g., blood pressure, epinephrine and norepinephrine, cortisol, immune functioning) responses to stressors. Currently, I lead two projects: Project CARE -- A study of risk and resilience in South African youth (located in Durban, South Africa) and Project HEART – Health and Resilience in Teens focused on low-income African American adolescents and their mothers in Richmond. Both studies examine associations between cumulative risk and physiological outcomes, as well as examining individual, familial, and environmental factors associated with resilience. Additionally, I am part of a community and family intervention team working to reduce youth violence in Richmond.

Selected Publications

Kliewer, W., & Lepore, S. J. (in press). Exposure to violence, social cognitive processing, and sleep problems in urban adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Borre, A., & Kliewer, W. (2014). Parental strain, mental health problems, and parenting practices: A longitudinal study. Personality and Individual Differences, 68, 93-97.

Kliewer, W. (2013). The role of neighborhood collective efficacy and fear of crime in socialization of coping with violence in low-income communities. Journal of Community Psychology, 41, 920-930. 

Lepore, S. J., & Kliewer, W. (2013). Violence exposure, sleep disturbance, and poor academic performance in middle school. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41, 1179-1189.

Kliewer, W., Dibble, A. E., Goodman, K., & Sullivan, T.N. (2012). Physiological correlates of peer victimization and aggression in African American urban adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 637-650.

Recent Courses
Recent Grants

Project HEART:  Health and Resilience in Teens.  Co-Principal Investigator.  July, 2013 – December, 2014.  VCU, Presidental Research Quest Fund. $50,000.

Virginia Commonwealth University – Center for Youth Violence Prevention. Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Farrell). September, 2010 – September, 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1U01CE001956-01, $6,500,000.

Can parents help prevent youth tobacco use? An evaluation of two evidence-based parenting programs?  Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Corona). July, 2012 – June, 2015.  Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. $449,973.

Violence, drug use, and AIDS in South African Youth: A US/South Africa Research Collaboration. Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Sanders-Phillips). April, 2011 – March, 2013. National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21DA030298-01, $341,438.

School-based expressive writing intervention trials for youth exposed to violence. Principal Investigator. June, 2008 – April, 2011. The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. R01 MH081166.