Mission and Values


Faculty members in the Developmental Psychology Program are interested in social, emotional, cognitive, and biological development, focusing especially on stability and change as a function of maturation and experience. We conduct research with infants, children, adolescents, and adults, making use of both observational and experimental methods in cross-sectional and longitudinal research designs with diverse populations.

Our research is informed by a multi-system approach. We seek to explain the ways in which biological factors (genetic, neurobiological, hormonal, physiological) interact dynamically over the course of ontogeny with environmental contexts to shape individual differences in life trajectories. Typically, we frame our research questions in the context of the parent-child dyad, the family, the classroom, and the community. This broad focus often results in collaborations across the University with colleagues at the Center for Developmental Science, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, School of Education, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, Nutrition Research Institute, and Departments and Programs within the School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Public Health.

Graduate training is a central component of our program, which is generally counted among the top ten programs in the country and is currently ranked as fifth (U. S. News and World Report). The program of study is rigorous, but we are flexible in our requirements because we understand that each student’s preparation is likely to be unique. With the training that we provide, our students acquire the substantive knowledge and methodological sophistication that enable them to become outstanding researchers and highly skilled teachers who are capable of providing effective public and professional service in the community. Our graduates occupy a wide range of positions in colleges and universities, research institutes, and applied settings.