Projects in Developmental Psychology

Supervised by Jean Burr

Professor Burr will supervise both one- and two-semester projects in developmental psychology related to the following topics. Two-semester projects may involve empirical data collection with children and/or adolescents in the local schools. Students undertaking a senior project in developmental psychology are encouraged to have taken either topical course in Child Psychology, Educational Psychology, or the Applied Developmental Psychology lab course.

Implicit Beliefs about Relational Aggression
A common weakness of studies of relational aggression (behaviors intended to hurt or harm others by manipulating interpersonal relationships) is a reliance on self-report measures, which are susceptible to self-report biases. The goal of this line of research is to examine high school students' implicit (or unconscious) beliefs about relationally aggressive situations. Future studies in this area will (1) continue to refine measures of implicit beliefs about relational aggression, (2) examine how beliefs about relational aggression relate to aggressive behavior and social adjustment, (3) Examine age-related differences in these processes.

The Transition to Hamilton
Although going away to college is an exciting experience, research shows that many students have difficulty adjusting to new academic and social demands. As part of first-year orientation, members of the Hamilton class of 2011 completed surveys describing their expectations, concerns, and excitement about college life. Thesis students who work on this project will re-survey members of the Hamilton class of 2011 to examine how first-years' early expectations relate to their overall college experience, including academic, social, and personal adjustment.

Relational Aggression, Peer Relationships, and Cyberbullying
Much of my prior research has focused on children and adolescents' relationally aggressive behavior and friendships, with an eye to understanding how social relationships are related to academic achievement and adjustment to school. Some directions for future research include: the role of friends in supporting relationally aggressive behavior, how aggression manifests itself in electronic media, individual differences in aggressiveness, and the development of a laboratory-based behavioral measure of relational aggression. Projects in this area may focus on a variety of different age groups.