My research examines social competence in children and adolescence. Some children are well liked, make friends easily, and are good at reading and understanding social cues. Yet other children struggle to make friends, are rejected or bullied by peers, and engage in behaviors that are harmful to others. My research seeks to understand the cognitive and environmental factors that explain these differences in social functioning. Some of my research focuses specifically on children with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), who often demonstrate significant social impairments. One aspect of social functioning that I have examined in these children is biased self-perceptions. Studies have found that some children with ADHD perceive themselves as socially competent despite being rated by others as significantly impaired. This difference in perceptions has been termed a positive "illusory" bias and is more common and extreme in children with ADHD than in children without this disorder. My research seeks to understand why some children with ADHD demonstrate a positive illusory bias and how this thinking relates to other indices of social adjustment, such as aggression. I also investigate these processes within typically developing children. This work has focused specifically on risks for physical (hitting, physical intimidation) and relational aggression (gossiping, systematic exclusion of a peer) and examines individual, cognitive, and social factors that may explain differences in risks.
Please visit the Peer Relationships Lab website for more information about my research.