Penn State's 17th annual Symposium on Family Issues set for Oct. 8-9

The 17th annual Symposium on Family Issues will take place on Oct. 8 and 9 on Penn State's University Park campus. This year's symposium is titled, "Biosocial Research Contributions to Understanding Family Processes and Problems."

“Conceptual shifts and technological breakthroughs have placed new emphasis on the importance of combining nature and nurture to understand family processes and problems," said Alan Booth, distinguished professor of sociology, demography, and family studies. "The link between biology and behavior is no longer regarded as a simple, unidirectional, cause-and-effect process.”

Today’s researchers emphasize bi-directional relations between physiological processes and behavior, processes that operate in the context of previous experience and the demands of a multi-layered ecology.

“Biological factors mediate and moderate behavioral adaptation to a range of environmental challenges," Booth said. "At the same time, environmental challenges and behavioral responses affect biological processes.”

Family relationships are at the intersection of many biological and environmental influences, he said.

The goal of this symposium is to stimulate conversation among scholars who construct and use biosocial models, as well as among those who want to know more about biosocial processes. Researchers interested in both biological and social/environmental influences on behavior, health and development will be represented, including researchers whose work emphasizes behavioral endocrinology, behavior genetics, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, sociology, demography, anthropology, economics and psychology. In total, 16 symposium presenters will consider physiological and social environmental influences on parenting and early childhood development, followed by adolescent adjustment and family formation. Finally, factors that influence how families adapt to social inequalities will be examined.

Lead speakers include Alison Fleming, University of Toronto at Mississauga; Jenae Neiderhiser, Penn State; Steven Gangestad, University of New Mexico; and Guang Guo, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. For a complete list of presenters and to register, visit online. The Symposium is supported annually by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, as well as departments and centers at Penn State. The 2009 symposium is supported by Salimetrics -- providing researchers salivary assay tools for studying a wide range of genetic and hormone markers affecting health, behavior and development -- online at

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Last Updated January 09, 2015