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Cynthia Edwards

Department Head, Psychology and Social Work; Professor of Psychology

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108-A Ledford
(919) 760-8441

Areas of Expertise

  • Lifespan Developmental and Social Psychology
  • Research interests include the role of social support networks in the development of young women at key life transitions (high school to college; college to workforce).
  • Current projects include collaborating with students on a pair of longitudinal studies focused on the role of social support in mediating  stress and  risk behaviors associated with the transitions of adolescence and emergent adulthood.

Work Experience

Cynthia Edwards joined the Meredith faculty in 1991.  Dr. Edwards enjoys diverse research interests and particularly appreciates working collaboratively with Meredith students in the development of research projects. She has co-authored a reader in the history of psychology, published in Developmental Psychology, presents regularly at national and international conferences, and has mentored numerous students to national conference presentations. Dr. Edwards is a faculty mentor in the Duke University Preparing Future Faculty program, and a member of the faculty at the Center for Developmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Edwards has served in a number of administrative posts at Meredith, but most enjoys working with students in the classroom and the laboratory.  In addition to teaching Developmental and Social Psychology, Edwards supervises Psychology Community Field Placements, and maintains an active student-led research laboratory.

Academic Credentials

  • Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • M.A., Psychology, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • B.A. with honors in Psychology, Wake Forest University

Professional Credentials

Graduate, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard Institute for Higher Education, Cambridge, 2008


The transitions from high school to college and, subsequently, from college to career track are considered points of vulnerability for stress and high-risk behaviors in young adults (Dahl, 2013). Rates of clinically significant psychiatric episodes are higher among the 15-25 year-old population than at any other life point, with young women at significantly higher risk than young men (Eaton, et. al., 2012; Kessler,, 1994).

Edwards’ research program is comprised of two overlapping longitudinal studies aimed at understanding the role of family and peer social support in mediating the stressors associated with adolescent and early adult life transitions.  One longitudinal study has followed a cohort of Meredith alumnae since they enrolled in the college as freshmen in the fall of 2002.  A second, launched in the fall of 2013, aims to compare current students with the original cohort as well as illuminating additional factors that buffer or mediate stress at these critical life transitions.

Numerous Meredith students have contributed to this research over the years with most going on to present their work at regional and national conferences. The rich longitudinal database has provided foundational research and data analysis experience for students, while ongoing data collection has given them room to develop research questions of their own.


  • School of Education, Health and Human Sciences, Dean's Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Profession and Meredith College, Meredith College, Raleigh, NC
  • Friend of Dorothea Dix Mental Health Community Service Award, Raleigh, NC
  • Distinguished Alumna in Psychology, Psi Chi Honor Society, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC


  • Edwards, C.A. (under review).  Leadership and social network centrality among recently acquainted girls in a summer camp.  Social Development.
  • Edwards, C.A., Hall, A.R., & Wettroth, C. (2013, January).  Partisan politics, social psychology, and finding common ground.  Through a Sustainable Lens, TEDx Event, Meredith College.  YouTube:
  • Edwards, C.A. (2012, November).  Why has this election cycle been so divisive? (November, 2012), Under the Dome, Raleigh News and Observer.
  • Edwards, C.A., and Suttenfield, K. (2012, October).  Longitudinal predictors and correlates of leadership and community embeddedness in young adulthood:  The role of early leadership self-efficacy, social networks, and collegiate involvement.  Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development themed meeting, Transitions for Adolescence to Adulthood, Tampa, FL.
  • Edwards, C.A. and Suttenfield, K. (2012, May).  Five tips for dealing with post-college shock.
  • Edwards, C.A. (2012, February).  Lessons Learned:  Building a career and a research agenda at a small liberal arts college.  Invited address, Developmental Psychology Colloquium, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Edwards, C.A. (2011, March). Emergent leadership among girls and young women: Self-efficacy, chance, choice, and reciprocal socialization. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Canada.
  • Edwards, C.A. (2009). Leading from the Middle, invited essay in Kristi Lahr Pearce, The Associate Chief Academic Officer in Sheying Chen, ed., Academic Administration:  A Quest for Better Management and Leadership in Higher Education.  Nova Science Publishers.

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