Department of Psychology
University of Oklahoma
Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology
Welcome to the graduate program in Developmental and Personality Psychology! This program is uniquely designed to provide considerable flexibility for the research-oriented student interested in earning a doctoral degree in these areas of Psychology. Students may concentrate in either Developmental or Personality Psychology, or their coursework and research may be structured to emphasize both areas.
Our program is also unique in two other ways. First, individual differences often form a unifying element across faculty members and students in the program. Many of the faculty members and students in this program share an interest in such characteristics as aggression, extraversion, sociability, impulsivity, entitlement, adaptability, as well as gender, age, and a wide range of abilities and expectancies. Second, while the background of each faculty member supporting the program demonstrates mastery in their specific area of psychology, each faculty member and the composite of all the supporting faculty members reflect a strong interest and commitment to interdisciplinary research and training. We believe our program is ideal for the student who not only wants training in the clearly recognized traditional areas of Developmental or Personality Psychology, but also wants the added advantage of gaining strength from exposure to allied sub-disciplinary areas such as Quantitative Psychology, Clinical and Clinical Neuropsychology, Human Factors/Performance, Cognitive Psychology, and Psychometric Theory/Methods. Those students with a primary interest in Developmental Psychology will find a program that focuses on understanding processes of normative development and provides training in the core areas of social and social-cognitive development.
Students have the flexibility to develop expertise within specific content areas or particular age groups. For those students with a primary interest in Personality Psychology, the program provides advanced training in the areas of personality theory and modern personality research. In the context of experimental work, this graduate training program values and encourages collaborative and cross-disciplinary approaches to research problems, including shared interests in theory, methodology, technology, and applications. The training that supports this program is designed to prepare our graduates for a career as an academic/research psychologist or for an applied research career. Our graduates are equipped with the necessary theoretical/conceptual, methodological, statistical, and design skills to make high-quality independent research contributions to our field. In addition, our students will have the opportunity to develop teaching skills through teaching assistantships, supervised independent class instruction, and through mentorship by faculty members with broad and often award-winning experience in teaching small and large classes, as well as specialized and alternative format seminars.
The topics addressed in our program would enable the successful student to develop a research program pertaining to one or more of the following areas:
- Adaptive Skilled Performance/Ability
- Academic Entitlement
- Academic Success
- Adolescent Risk Behavior
- Stereotypes and Prejudice
- Computer-based Neuropsychological Testing
- Peer Relations
- Human Factors/Performance
- Peer Status
- Biological Bases of Personality
- Stress and Coping
- Cognitive/Perceptually-Based Traits
- Social Cognition
- Social Functioning
- Cognitive Style
- Emotion and Motivation
- Academic Entitlement
- Transfer of Learning
- Development of Problem
- Solving Strategies
- Emotion and Motivation
- Representational Change
In order to complete the Ph.D. in the Developmental or Personality program of the Department of Psychology, a student must complete 90 hours of coursework beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Generally, the individual student, in consultation with a faculty committee, will design a course of study that matches the student’s interests and career aspirations. Successful completion of all coursework, the Ph.D. general exam, and the dissertation is required for the Ph.D. A Master of Science degree is completed on route to the Ph.D., and is a required step in the Ph.D. process. The M.S. degree requires 30 hours of coursework beyond the Bachelor’s degree and completion of a Master’s Thesis and oral defense.
Core Developmental and Personality Faculty
Jennifer L. Barnes (Ph.D. Yale University) Assistant Professor of Psychology.
Dr. Barnes’s research focuses on the cognitive science of fiction and storytelling, targeting questions such as: Why do people like fictional books, movies, and television shows, even though they know they aren’t real? How is our sense of “fictional morality” different than real-world morality, and why do we sometimes like fictional characters who are not moral, when we probably would not care for them if they were real people? How do adults and children who frequently engage in imaginary worlds differ from those who do not? Do children with imaginary friends grow up to read more fiction? Do they grow up to write more fiction? What is the psychological and cognitive profile of professional fiction writers? These questions are explored by investigating how our relationship with the un-real changes across the course of development. Additional interests include children’s understanding of intellectual property and “ideas” more broadly, including how understanding of “ideas” is distinguished from other domains of theory of mind, such as understanding of knowledge and beliefs, and work focused on moral development.
Nicole Judice Campbell (Ph.D. Arizona State University) Associate Professor of Psychology
Dr. Campbell’s research in social cognition targets the following question: What factors influence how people gather and process social information? In previous research, she approached this question within the context of the self-fulfilling prophecy–the process whereby we cause others to behave in ways that are objectively consistent with our expectations. In a related line of research, she investigates individual differences in cognitive style, approaching the question of social cognition from the perspective of chronic motivations and characteristic ways of thinking. More recently, she has begun researching factors affecting student retention and success, including individual differences in students’ attitudes toward their education. (Note: Because of my administrative duties, I am not currently recruiting students.)
L. Eugenia Cox-Fuenzalida (Ph.D. University of Oklahoma) Associate Professor of Psychology
Her research is interdisciplinary as it combines the study of both personality and human factors: she primarily studies traits with biological and perceptual bases (e.g. extraversion, anxiety, and neuroticism) and is particularly interested in research employing human performance and psycho-physiological measures. Her current research focuses on behavioral aspects of individual differences, examining specifically mediating effects on performance in response to workload variation. Other research projects involve the study of self-esteem and social support. (On leave for the 2012-2013 academic year.)
Kirby Gilliland (Ph.D. Northwestern University) David Ross Boyd Professor of Psychology
Major research utilizing human performance (psycho-physiological and cognitive) and psycho-physiological measures. Future research will also explore models of stress adaptation.
Lara Mayeux (Ph.D. University of Connecticut) Associate Professor of Psychology
Her overall research focus is on behaviors and characteristics that can be construed as socially dominant: Specifically, she is interested in physical aggression (intimidation, bullying), relational aggression (manipulation, gossip, exclusion), and perceived popularity. Youth who are perceived-popular are socially well-connected, highly visible and influential, and make up the "popular" or "cool" crowd in a given school. She is interested in how these youth achieve such high status, as well as how they use their status to further their own social goals. We know that perceived popularity is highly stable across adolescence, but little is known about how much continuity there is from adolescence into early adulthood or about what form popularity or dominance might take once adolescents leave the high school context. She also studies the link between popularity and antisocial or risk-taking behaviors such as delinquency, aggression, and substance use, and the role of peer influence in adolescent risk-taking behaviors.
Clarissa Thompson (Ph.D. The Ohio State University) Assistant Professor of Psychology
Research in the Cognitive Development Lab investigates the ways children learn, develop strategies to solve problems, generalize knowledge to novel contexts, and remember information. Children’s learning is tracked on a trial-by-trial basis using the microgenetic method. The microgenetic method highlights how learning occurs in preschoolers, elementary through high school students, and college-aged adults. Current projects in the Cognitive Development Lab focus on shifts in children’s numerical representations with increasing age and experience, circumstances under which transfer of numerical knowledge is facilitated or inhibited, children’s use of “buggy” estimation strategies, how children draw analogies between numerical contexts to help them solve problems, the costs and benefits of representational change, and the impact that numerical representations have on the types of numbers children are able to remember. Research in the Cognitive Development Lab can inform classroom interventions and best practices in teaching children about numbers.
Affiliated and Adjunct Developmental and Personality Faculty
Robert Terry (Ph.D. University of North Carolina) Associate Professor of Psychology
Dr. Terry has two primary research interests; first interest lies in the development, understanding, and application of psychometric theory useful in test construction and evaluation. He investigates the full ramifications of measurement error on both psychological assessment and psychological theory, with particular interest in the effects of measurement error on the assessment of change. His second interest involves understanding the processes underlying interpersonal perception and the making of social judgments. Using a technique called sociometry, he has developed mathematical models which attempt to illuminate the processes humans use in understanding their social world and in relating to their peers.
C. Eugene Walker