The Social and Moral Development Laboratory is housed in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, College Park. The laboratory is supervised by Professor Melanie Killen (mkillen@umd.edu), and the focus of the research is on how children, adolescents, and adults evaluate social and moral issues in everyday life.


The general topics that we investigate include developmental social cognition, moral reasoning, intergroup attitudes and relationships, social exclusion, social inequalities, resource allocation, morality and theory of mind, stereotyping, the origins of prejudice, and peer relationships. The projects are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NIH).


Faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students collaborate on a range of projects. Current projects include international collaborations with colleagues in Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Nepal, The Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. Please visit other links on this web page for more detailed information!


Lab Announcements


Click here to see a feature piece in the UMD Research Roundup about our lab’s study, Children’s and Adolescents’ Evaluations of Intergroup Exclusion in Interracial and Interwealth Peer Contexts, by Burkholder, Elenbaas, & Killen, 2019!


Congratulations to Michael T. Rizzo, Ph.D., 2018, for receiving the Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2018, from the College of Education, University of Maryland!


Congratulations to Laura Elenbaas, Ph.D., 2017, for winning the APA Division 7 Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2019!


Congratulations to Lenka Kollerová from The Institute of Psychology at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, for receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to join our lab this year!


Congrats to Jeanine Grütter, our former Swiss NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow for her new position at the University of Zurich!


Congrats to Alaina Brenick, Ph.D., 2009, for her promotion to Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut!


Congratulations to Emily Fitzgerald, a current undergraduate research assistant in the lab who was accepted to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Master’s of Social Work Program!


Congratulations to Michelle Gomes, a current undergraduate research assistant in the lab who was accepted to the University of Maryland, College Park, Master’s in Clinical Psychological Science Program!


Congratulations to Nicole Lang, a former undergraduate research assistant in the lab, who is now a Scientific Program Manager at the Scientific Workforce Diversity Office at NIH!


Click here to read about our lab’s Emmy Award winning study, commissioned by Anderson Cooper for CNN AC360, which aired for five nights in 2012.


If you are interested in applying to work with Dr. Killen in the graduate program, please email Dr. Killen, mkillen@umd.edu. If you are a University of Maryland, College Park, undergraduate student interested in joining our lab as a Research Assistant, please fill out the application and email it to bonniew@umd.edu with a copy of your unofficial transcript and your resume.


Lab conference papers were presented this year at the meetings of the following organizations: American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, European Conference on Developmental Psychology, Jean Piaget Society, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Society for Research in Child Development, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for Research on Adolescence.

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