Areas of Study: Developmental Psychology
The Developmental Psychology program offers graduate students the opportunity to study social, emotional, cognitive and neuropsychological aspects of human development. Coursework and research in the department touches on development from infancy through old age, and encompasses both theoretical and applied perspectives. Students emerge from the program with a broad knowledge base in developmental psychology and familiarity with diverse methodologies.
Current faculty research interests include cultural and media influences on development, parenting, sexuality, social support, and memory development.
R e s e a r c h P r o j e c t s
Angelillo, C., Rogoff, B., & Chavajay, P. (in press). Examining shared endeavors by abstracting video coding schemes with fidelity to cases. In R. Goldman, R. Pea, B. Barron, & S. Derry (Eds.), Video research in the learning sciences (pp. 189-206). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Chavajay, P. (2006). How Mayan mothers with different amounts of schooling organize a problem-solving discussion with children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30, 371-382.
Chavajay, P., Angelillo, C., & Pease-Alvarez, L. (2005). Teachers, mentors, friends?: Undergraduates' engagements with Latino children in an After-School Program. In L. Pease-Alvarez & S. Schecter (Eds.), Learning, Teaching, and Community: Contributions of situated and participatory approaches to education innovation (pp. 151-169). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Pease-Alvarez, L., Angelillo, C., & Chavajay, P. (2005). Working through dilemmas about homework in an after-school program: Integrating theory, research and practice. In L. Pease-Alvarez & S. Schecter (Eds.), Learning, Teaching, and Community: Contributions of situated and participatory approached to education innovation (pp. 131-150). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Chavajay, P., & Rogoff, B. (2002). Schooling and traditional collaborative social organization of problem solving by Mayan mothers and children. Developmental Psychology, 38, 55-66.
Chavajay, P., & Rogoff, B. (1999). Cultural variation in management of attention by children and their caregivers. Developmental Psychology, 35, 1079-1090.
Rogoff, B., & Chavajay, P. (1995). What’s become of research on the cultural basis of cognitive development? American Psychologist, 50, 859-877.
Chavajay, P. (1993). Independent analyses of cultural variations and similarities in San Pedro and Salt Lake (Afterward to Rogoff, B., Mistry, J., Goncu, A., Mosier, C., Guided participation in cultural activity by toddlers and caregivers). Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 58 (7, Serial No. 236).
Nunez, G., Aju, C., Xocop, G., & Chavajay, P. (1990). Patterns of socialization of Guatemalan Mayan children. Guatemala City, Guatemala: Universidad Rafael Landivar, Programa Nacional de Desarrollo Integral para la Poblacion Maya (PRODIPMA).
Cross-cultural differences in autobiographical memories
Traditionally, researchers have focused on universal or domain-general aspects of memory. However, recent work suggests striking differences in how individuals from different cultures engage in long term remembering. In collaboration with students and colleagues, Leichtman has explored cultural differences in the timing, structure and content of childhood memories, and has sought to explain these as a function of differences in the social and cognitive contexts of childhood. This research program has included participants in China, Korea, India, Japan, Canada, and the US, as well as US immigrants. Leichtman and colleagues have used multiple research methods to explore how variations in children's environments influence autobiographical memory processes, and have studied both children and adults. For example, their work has documented the relationship between measures of interdependence of social orientation and the structure of autobiographical memory narratives in China and the US. Leichtman and colleagues have studied children's autobiographical narratives, story memories and parent-child conversations in several countries.
Leichtman, M. D. (2006). Cultural and maturational influences on long-term event memory. In C. Tamis-LeMonda & L. Balter (Eds.). Child psychology: A handbook of contemporary issues (Second Edition.). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Leichtman, M.D. & Wang, Q. (2005). Autobiographical memory in the developmental niche: A cross-cultural perspective. In C. Tamis-Lemonda & B. Homer (Eds.). The development of social cognition and communication. New York: Sage.
Leichtman, M. D., Wang, Q., & Pillemer, D. B. (2003). Cultural variations in interdependence and autobiographical memory: Lessons from Korea, China, India and the United States. In R. Fivush & C. Haden (Eds.), Connecting culture and memory: The social construction of the autobiographical self. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Wang, Q., & Leichtman, M. D. (2000). Same beginnings, different stories: A comparison of American and Chinese children’s narratives. Child Development, 71,5
Wang, Q., Leichtman, M. D., & Davies, K. I. (2000). Sharing memories and telling stories: American and Chinese mothers and their 3-year-olds. Memory, 8, 3, 159-177.
Leichtman, M. D. (1999). Cultural, social and maturational influences on childhood amnesia. In C. Tamis-LeMonda & L. Balter (Eds.), Child psychology: A handbook of contemporary issues (pp. 447-466). Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis.
Wang, Q., Leichtman, M. D., & White, S. H. (1998). Childhood memory and self-definition in young Chinese adults. Cognition, 69, 1,73-103.
Han, J. J., Leichtman, M. D., & Wang, Q. (1998). Autobiographical memory in Korean, Chinese and American children. Developmental Psychology, 34, 4, 701-713.
Suggestibility of children's memory
In recent decades, children's increased participation in legal proceedings in the US has inspired numerous important questions about their capabilities as eyewitnesses. How capable are very young children--for example, 3-year-olds--of providing accurate testimony about events that they have experienced? How does testimonial competency change with age? Are young children more vulnerable than older children and adults to the distorting effects of suggestions from sources outside the original event (for example, repeated suggestions or leading questions from adults)? If so, why? Leichtman's research has contributed to the growing body of literature on these issues, documenting some of the basic age trends in suggestibility and the boundary conditions that limit them. In collaboration with colleagues, she has also explored some of the factors that contribute to individual differences in young children's suggestibility, including source monitoring and language capabilities.
Leichtman, M. D., & Ceci, S. J. (2000). Preschoolers remember Sam Stone. In U. Neisser & I. Hyman (Eds.) Memory Observed (Second Edition, pp. 232-247). New York: Worth Publishers. (Reprinted from Developmental Psychology, 31, 4, 568-578)
Leichtman, M. D., Morse, M. B., Dixon, A., & Spiegel, R. (2000). Source-monitoring and suggestibility: An individual differences approach. In K. Roberts and M. Blade (Eds.), Children’s source monitoring (pp. 257-287). New York: Routledge.
Leichtman, M. D., Ceci, S. J., & Morse, M. B. (1997). The nature and development of children’s event memory. In P. S. Applebaum, L. A. Uyehara & M. Elin (Eds.), Trauma and memory: Clinical and legal controversies (pp. 158-187). New York: Oxford University Press.
White, T. L., Leichtman, M. D., & Ceci, S. J (1997). The good, the bad, and the ugly:Accuracy, inaccuracy, and elaboration in preschoolers’ reports about a past event. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 11, S37-S54.
Schacter, D. S., Kagan, J., & Leichtman, M. D. (1995). True and false memories in children and adults: A cognitive neuroscience perspective. Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, 1, 2, 411-428.
Basic issues in early and later memory
Leichtman's work touches on a number of other basic issues in memory development throughout the lifecourse. One broad question is how parent-child conversation influences what children remember about events. In a series of recent studies, Leichtman and colleagues (D. Pillemer, Q. Wang) have provided evidence that how parents talk with their young children about the personal past has a large effect on what children remember over the long term --even if the parents were not present during the event and have no knowledge of what transpired.
Other research interests include factors that affect childhood amnesia, or memory for the first three years of life, sex differences in the way that children and adolescents remember and talk about personally experienced past events, and the relationship between social attributions and event memories.
Gibson, B. M., Leichtman, M., Kung, D., Simpson, M. (2007). Use of landmark features and geometry by children and adults during a two-dimensional search task. Learning and Motivation, 38, 89-102.
Leichtman, M.D. & Wang, Q. (2005). A socio-historical perspective on autobiographical memory development. In D.B. Pillemer & S.H. White (Eds.), Developmental Psychology and Social Change. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Leichtman, M. D., Pillemer, D. P., Wang, Q., Koreishi, A., & Han, J. J. (2000). When Baby Maisy came to school: Mothers’ interview styles and preschoolers’ event memories. Cognitive Development, 1-16.
Pillemer, D. B., & White, S. H. (Eds.) (2005). Developmental psychology and social change: Research, history, and policy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pillemer, D. B. (1998). Momentous events, vivid memories. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Light, R.J., & Pillemer, D.B. (1984). Summing up: The science of reviewing research. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Feldman, C., Lee, B., McLean, J.D., Pillemer, D.B., & Murray, J. (1974). The development of adaptive intelligence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Dickson, R. A., Pillemer, D. B., & Bruehl, E. C. (2011). The reminiscence bump for salient personal memories: Is a cultural life script required? Memory & Cognition, 39, 977-991.
Thomsen, D. K., Pillemer, D. B., & Ivcevic, Z. (2011). Life story chapters, specific memories and the reminiscence bump. Memory, 19, 267-279.
Bemis, R. H., Leichtman, M. D., & Pillemer, D. B. (2011). “I remember when I learned that!” Developmental and gender differences in children’s memories of learning episodes. Infant and Child Development, 20, 387-399.
Pillemer, D. B. (2011). Review of D. Berntsen, Involuntary autobiographical memories: An introduction to the unbidden past, Cambridge University Press, 2009. Memory Studies, 4, 343-345.
Kuwabara, K. J., & Pillemer, D. B. (2010). Memories of past episodes shape current intentions and decisions. Memory, 18, 365-374.
Ivcevic, Z., Pillemer, D. B., & Brackett, M. A. (2010). Self-esteem memories and school success in early adolescence. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 1265-1278.
Pillemer, D. B. (2009). “Hearing the news” versus “being there”: Comparing flashbulb memories and recall of first-hand experiences. In O. Luminet & A. Curci (Eds.), Flashbulb memories: New issues and new perspectives (pp. 125-140). London: Psychology Press.
Pillemer, D.B. (2009). Twenty years after Baddeley (1988): Is the study of autobiographical memory fully functional? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, 1193-1208.
Skowronek, J. S., Leichtman, M. D., & Pillemer, D. B. (2008). Long-term episodic memory in children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 23, 25-35.
Ivcevic, Z., Pillemer, D. B., Wang, Q., Yubo, H., Huizhen, T., Mohoric, T., & Taksic, V. (2008). When we feel good and bad about ourselves: Self-esteem memories across cultures. Memory, 16, 703-711.
Pillemer, D. B., Ivcevic, Z., Gooze, R. A., & Collins, K. A. (2007). Self-esteem memories: Feeling good about achievement success, feeling bad about relationship distress. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1292-1305.
Collins, K. A., Pillemer, D. B., Ivcevic, Z., & Gooze, R. A. (2007). Cultural scripts guide recall of intensely positive life events. Memory & Cognition, 35, 651-659.