VCU Psychology Department

Does forgiving others affect your meaning in life?

Relationships are a vital source of meaning in life. But conflicts are inevitable in every relationship. Might forgiving an offense by your partner increase or restore how meaningful you feel your life is? read more...


How can we track the psychosocial functioning of patients?

Understanding a patient’s psychological profile over time can aid in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment planning. What method can we use to track the psychosocial functioning of patients? 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.