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. One cognitive risk factor I have examined is positively biased self-perceptions of social acceptance. Although most children have accurate perceptions of their social abilities, some children report that they are more well-liked and competent than other measures would suggest. My research has explored why certain children demonstrate this bias in thinking and how such thinking may influence social behaviors like aggression and children's emotional adjustment. My research also has examined how differences in executive functioning skills (i.e., higher order cognitive abilities implicated in goal directed thinking and behavior) may explain why certain children are more socially impaired than others. And finally, my work has examined how children's emotion regulation capacities, including physiological regulation of emotion, can influence children's behaviors and social success. Some of my research focuses specifically on children with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), who often demonstrate significant social impairments. This work focuses on characterizing the social impairments that these children possess and the underlying mechanisms that are implicated. I also examine social adjustment in typically developing children. This work is currently focused on understanding the causes and consequences of engagement in physical aggression (i.e., hitting) as well as relational aggression (i.e., gossip, systematic exclusion) and how these two forms of aggression differ.
Please visit the Peer Relationships Lab website for more information about my research.