Yao Zheng, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Psychology Dept

Pronouns: he, him, his


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Psychology Dept
(780) 492-0187
P-349 Bio Science - Psychology Wing
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9


Area of Study / Keywords

Developmental psychopathology adolescent development behavioral genetics developmental methodology prevention science intensive longitudinal data


I am an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta in the Developmental Science area. I was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at Simon Fraser University and University of Quebec at Montreal. I received my Ph.D. and M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as a M.A.S. in Applied Statistics, from the Pennsylvania State University. I received my B.S. in Psychology from Yuan Pei Honors College, Peking University.  


As a lifespan researcher taking a developmental psychopathology perspective, I conduct research on the influences of family and peer processes that shape different developmental trajectories of problem behaviors using innovative quantitative methodology at multiple levels of analysis (e.g., genetic, behavioral) and time scales (e.g., days, years) in various ecological contexts (e.g., school, neighborhood, culture). My research focuses on four interrelated themes: 1) family and peer processes that shape different developmental trajectories of problem behavior using mixture modeling; 2) genetic and environmental interplay in the development of problem behavior using quantitative genetic modeling; 3) intra-individual developmental processes at a micro level using intensive longitudinal data with time series analysis; and 4) evaluation of preventative interventions using dynamical system analysis and longitudinal growth curve modeling. I am particularly interested in how children and adolescents from at-risk or ethnic/racial minority populations can prosper and show resilience despite adverse experiences. I am also interested in child and adolescent development from the Majority World. 

Read more about my research here: https://sshdonline.org/september-2022-researchers-window-dr-yao-zheng/


I teach PSYCHO 327 (Adolescent Development), PSYCHO 421/622 (Special Topics: Developmental Behavioral Genetics), PSYCHO 423/622 (Special Topics: Developmental Psychopathology), PSYCHO 521 (Developmental Concepts and Theories), PSYCHO 523 (Developmental Methods: Statistical Application), and PSYCHO 631 (Special Topics: Introduction to Applied Mixture Modeling).


Undergraduate: I am currently NOT accepting any new undergraduate students for honors program or independent research due to capacity. Hence I will no longer reply to any inquiry about potential honors thesis supervision, independent research supervision, or research volunteering experience.

Graduate: I may potentially accept graduate students starting in Fall 2025 who are interested in the socioemotional and behavioral development in adolescence and young adulthood. Interested students for graduate programs are encouraged to contact me with their CV and unofficial transcript for me to evaluate potential fit. If you do not hear back from me after three weeks, it would be best for you not to proceed to application.

Please note that I will NOT reply to your inquiry email if it is clearly a template with generic contents and no specificity to my research programs. Sending multiple reminders won't facilitate any reply from me. In general, previous education and research experience in psychology, especially in developmental psychology, is required. 

GRE requirement: In general GRE is not required to apply for the graduate program under my supervision. However, I will not provide GRE waiver to all applicants, which partly depends on your prior undergraduate and graduate education and research experiences. If your previous degree is offered in a non-English language, not in psychology major, and/or you have relatively less research experience, having a strong GRE score (a minimum of 80% in Q) would make your application more competitive. For English speaking tests, I require a minimum of a total TOEFL score of 100 (minimum of 20 in each section) or a minimum IELTS score of 7. I do not consider Duolingo score.

Sabbatical Statement

I will be on sabbatical from January 1 2024 to December 31 2024. I will not take on any new service commitment. I will reply to emails very selectively.


PSYCH 423 - Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology

An in-depth review and analysis of research in an area of developmental psychology. Prerequisites: PSYCH 213 or STAT 151 or 161, and PSYCH 323 or PSYCH 327 or 329. Note: Consult with the Department for the specific topic offered each year and any additional prerequisites. [Faculty of Arts]

PSYCH 622 - Topics in Developmental Psychology

[Faculty of Arts]

Browse more courses taught by Yao Zheng

Featured Publications

Zheng, Y., Brendgen, M., *Meyer, Z., Vitaro, F., Dionne, G., & Boivin, M.

Behavior Genetics. 2021 May;

Zheng, Y., & Hu, Y.

Journal of Personality. 2020 December;

Genetic and environmental influences on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in Chinese adolescents: A longitudinal twin study

Zheng, Y., Pingault, J-B., Unger, J., & Rijsdijk, F.

European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020 February; 29 (2):205–216

Lability in parental warmth in childhood: Antecedents and early adolescent outcomes

Zheng, Y., & McMahon, R. J.

Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. 2019 October;

Peer alcohol use differentially amplifies genetic and environment effects on different developmental trajectories of adolescent alcohol use

Zheng, Y., Brendgen, M., Girard, A., Dionne, G., Boivin, M., & Vitaro, F.

Journal of Adolescent Health. 2019 September; 65 (6):752–759

Genetic and environmental influences on adolescent emotional inertia in daily life

Zheng, Y., & Asbury, K.

Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 2019 July; 48 (9):1849–1860

Zheng, Y., Pasalich, D., *Oberth, C., McMahon, R., & Pinderhughes, E. E.

Prevention Science. 2017 January; 18 (3):281–291

Zheng, Y., Rijsdijk, F., Pingault, J-B, McMahon, R., & Unger, J.

Psychological Medicine. 2016 January; 46 (9):1829–1838

Zheng, Y., Plomin, R., & von Stumm, S.

Psychological Science. 2016 January; 27 (12):1611–1619

Zheng, Y., Wiebe, R. P., Cleveland, H. H., Molenaar P. C. M., & Harris, K. S.

Multivariate Behavioral Research. 2013 January; 48 (2):241–266

Zheng, Y., & Cleveland, H. H.

Journal of Adolescence. 2013 January; 36 (2):371–381

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