In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Developmental Psychology (Social)

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Historical Works
  • Journals
  • Attachment
  • Temperament
  • Genetics
  • Evolution
  • Emotion
  • Moral and Prosocial Development
  • Motivation and Achievement
  • Aggression and Antisocial Behavior
  • Gender Development
  • Parenting
  • Peer Relationships

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Psychology Developmental Psychology (Social)
Philip C. Rodkin, Glenn I. Roisman
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 November 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0090


The central questions of child social development bear upon the essential nature of human existence, including the lasting importance of the infant’s first social relationships, the stability of human personality, nature-nurture, the way to properly socialize children to be moral and successful, and the importance of family and friends. Social development research has broad relevance to issues in education, public policy, prevention, social work, and the life sciences. In this overview, we begin with some basic information on source material, history, and common journals in the field. Then comes coverage of critical issues in the child’s early social development: attachment to a loving adult, the importance of temperament, the study of genetic and other biological factors in development, and the relationship between ontogeny (the development of the individual) and phylogeny (the development of the species). Next comes a focus on some key behaviors that are seen as essential for successful socialization: moral and prosocial behavior, the motivation to achieve, and (the lack of) aggressive and antisocial behavior. We consider classic and recent research on the role of gender, ethnicity, and intergroup relations on children’s development as children learn to be part of a larger society. Finally comes research on two critical domains of influence in children’s social development: families and peers. The field of children’s social development is vibrant, exciting, and increasingly interconnected with other areas in prevention, education, and the biological and social sciences.

General Overviews

These overviews of social and personality development include Handbook chapters (Damon, et al. 2006) and edited volumes (Underwood and Rosen 2011) appropriate for doctoral-level courses, and at the undergraduate level textbooks (Parke and Clarke-Stewart 2011, Shaffer 2008) and a primary source reader (Killen and Coplan 2011).

  • Damon, W., R. M. Lerner (series ed.), and N. Eisenberg (vol. ed.). 2006. Handbook of child psychology: Social, emotional, and personality development. 6th ed. Vol. 3. New York: Wiley.

    The Handbook of Child Psychology has been the landmark publication in child psychology since the 1930s, featuring long and defining chapters appropriate for doctoral students and scholars at all levels. Volume 3 on Social, Emotional, and Personality Development has chapters on virtually every section of the present bibliography and should be the starting place of any serious study of a topic in social development.

  • Killen, M., and R. J. Coplan, eds. 2011. Social development in childhood and adolescence: A contemporary reader. New York: Wiley/Blackwell.

    A reader of primary research articles to include in undergraduate or graduate-level courses on social and personality development.

  • Parke, R. D., and C. Clarke-Stewart. 2011. Social development. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    An excellent undergraduate text on social development led by Ross Parke, one of the outstanding social developmental researchers of our times.

  • Shaffer, D. R. 2008. Social and personality development. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

    The most popular undergraduate text on social and personality development, a favorite through many editions.

  • Underwood, M. K., and L. H. Rosen, eds. 2011. Social development: Relationships in infancy, childhood, and adolescence. New York: Guilford.

    Underwood and Rosen 2011 is an advanced textbook in social development edited by two leaders in the field. The chapters are written by active scholars in the various areas of social and personality development and represent both conventional wisdom and the cutting edge in the field. Virtually every section of the present bibliography has an excellent corresponding chapter in Underwood and Rosen 2011. See chapter 5 in particular.

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