Assistant Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
B.S., University of New Hampshire
I am interested in the development of children's reasoning about social subversion and moral resistance. My research is focused on the coordination of children's social and moral judgments, with an emphasis on opposition and resistance. I study ways children attempt to counter inequalities with overt and covert activities aimed at changing and subverting social practices that favor those in positions of power.
My research interests are in the area of social and moral development of children, specifically children's reasoning about social subversion and moral resistance. At the broad level, my research explores the ways in which issues of justice, personal autonomy, authority, and social conventions become increasingly coordinated and integrated in children’s social and moral decisions and action. I employ the framework of social domain theory, a constructive, social-cognitive, and domain-specific approach to understand the development of social knowledge. I am interested in how children and adolescents understand and coordinate competing social concerns, especially moral matters (issues pertaining to others' welfare, fairness, and rights), social conventions (arbitrary, culturally variable rules and norms) and psychological issues (personal jurisdiction).
Currently, I am studying the ways children and adolescents reason about and resolve situations involving social and moral conflict, and how they evaluate and coordinate the salient features of those situations in executing their judgments. Using clinical interviews, naturalistic observation, and survey methods, I have focused on children’s reasoning and behaviors related to honesty and deception, and the ways children make judgments about deception as a means of advancing their interests and moral priorities.
In one study in this line of this research, my colleagues and I explore the ways in which adolescents view and coordinate features of parent-adolescent relationships with a variety of adolescent behaviors, both highly controversial and normative, in evaluating and justifying the use of disobedience and deception to resist parental directives.
In a second line of work, I look at children’s conceptions of authority and their commands, as well as children’s judgments about obeying and disobeying authorities. I investigate the influence of different types of acts, authority figures, and social settings on children’s judgments about directives, defiance, and deception. I also look at children’s strategic use of various forms of information management, such as secrecy, avoidance, and partial truth telling, and the reasoning that supports their judgments of these behaviors.
I am also conducting a number of research projects with undergraduate student in my lab at the Elizabeth Amen Laboratory School. Our primary project investigates children’s altruistic behavior as it relates to classroom activities and the ways students evaluate and engage in behaviors related to fairness, kindness, and distributive justice.
Child Development; Lifespan Development; Social Development; Moral Development; Introduction to Psychology; and lab courses in developmental research methods
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