Melanie Killen

Melanie Killen

Melanie Killen is Professor of Human Development, Professor of Psychology (Affiliate), and the Associate Director for the Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture at the University of Maryland. She has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her research on children’s and adolescents’ development, moral judgment, social inclusion and exclusion, peer relationships, and social cognitive development.



Killen completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. in Psychology from Clark University.


Killen’s research areas of expertise include children’s and adolescents’ social and moral reasoning, peer relationships, social inclusion and exclusion, intergroup relationships and attitudes, prejudice and bias, gender roles, social development, social competence, and the role of school environments on development. Killen has served as an expert witness in a federal school desegregation case and helped prepare two Supreme Court briefs regarding the impact of school desegregation on children’s social development. She has consulted for the U.S. Government in the area of peer conflict resolution as well as for Sesame Workshop and Teaching Tolerance. She has also served as a consultant for a federal initiative on interventions designed to reduce prejudice and to promote inclusion in U.S. elementary schools. Killen serves on the expert advisory panel for the new National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C., and her research has been profiled in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Examiner, The American Scientist, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American School Board Journal, Teaching Tolerance Magazine,,, Parenting, Parent-Wise Magazine, Redbook, Baby Journal, as well as other print and media (radio, t.v.) outlets.


  • Graduate Mentor of the Year Award, University of Maryland, 2010
  • Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award from the Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Maryland, 2010.
  • Honorable Mention, Otto Klineberg Intercultural and International Relations Prize, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), for Intergroup attitudes and relations in childhood through adulthood (Eds. S. Levy & M. Killen), Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Full member, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, 2009
  • Allen Edwards Endowed Lecturer in Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2007.
  • Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year Award, University of Maryland, 2004
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2003.
  • Recipient, James McKeen Cattell Sabbatical Award from the James McKeen Cattell Foundation, Duke University, 2000.
  • Winner, Outstanding Book Award for 1997, Moral Development and Education Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Morality in everyday life: Developmental Perspectives, Cambridge University Press.
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association (Division 7, Developmental Psychology), 1997.
  • Visiting Faculty Fellow, Yale University, Yale/Mellon Visiting Faculty Program, 1990.
  • NIMH Predoctoral Traineeship, National Research Service Award, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 1979-1984.
  • Chancellor’s Patent Fund Award for Dissertation Research from the University of California, Berkeley, 1984.
  • Soroptimist International of America, Founder Region Fellowship for Dissertation Research, 1984.
  • Psi Chi Honorary Society, 1978
  • Undergraduate Honorary Fellow, New England Psychological Association, 1978
  • Jonas Clark Scholarship, Clark University, 1974.


Edited Journals, Special Issues

  • Killen, M. (Ed.). (1996). Children's autonomy, social competence, and interactions with adults and other children: Exploring connections and consequences. (New Directions for Child Development Vol. 73). S.F., CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.
  • Killen, M. (Ed.). (1995). Conflict resolution in early development [Guest Editor]. Early Education and Development, Volume 6.
  • Killen, M., & McKown, C. (Ed.) (2005). Children’s intergroup attitudes about race and ethnicity [Guest Editors]. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Volume 26.

Selected Publications in Peer Reviewed Journals

  • Sinno, S., & Killen, M. (2011). Social reasoning about second-shift parenting. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 29, 313-329.
  • Killen, M., Mulvey, K. L., Richardson, C. B., Jampol, N., & Woodward, A. (2011). The “accidental transgressor”: Morally-relevant theory of mind. Cognition, 119, 197-215.
  • Hitti, A., Mulvey, K.L., & Killen, M. (2011). Evaluation of social exclusion: The role of group norms, group identity and fairness. Anales de Psicologia (Special Issue: Social and developmental aspects of prejudice during childhood and adolescence.).
  • Nipedal, C., Nesdale, D. , & Killen, M. (2010). Social group norms, school norms, and aggressive intentions. Aggressive Behavior, 36, 195-204.
  • Killen, M., Kelly, M. Richardson, C., & Jampol, N. (2010). Attributions of intentions and fairness judgments regarding interracial peer encounters. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1206-1213.
  • Brenick, A., Killen, M., Lee-Kim, J., Fox, N., Leavitt, L., Raviv, A., Masalha, S., Murra, F., & Smadi, Y. (2010). Social understanding in Young Israeli-Jewish, Israeli-Palestinian, Palestinian, and Jordanian children: Moral judgments and stereotypes. Early Education and Development, 21, 886-911.
  • Crystal, D. S., Killen, M., & Ruck, M. R. (2010). Fair treatment by authorities is related to children's and adolescents' evaluations of interracial exclusion. Applied Developmental Science, 14, 125-136. Doi: 10.1080/10888691.2010.493067
  • Park, Y. & Killen, M. (2010). When is peer rejection justifiable?: Children's understanding across two cultures. Cognitive Development, 25, 290-301.
  • Mulvey, K. L., Hitti, A., & Killen, M. (2010). The development of stereotyping and exclusion. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 1, 597-606.
  • Killen, M., & Smetana, J. G. (2010). Future directions: Social development in the context of social justice. Social Development, 19, 642-657. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.2009.00548.x
  • McGlothlin, H., & Killen, M. (2010). How social experience is related to children’s intergroup attitudes. European Journal of Social Psychology: Special Issue: Children’s Intergroup Attitudes (Guest editors: J. Degner & Y. Dunham), 40, 625-634.
  • Rutland, A., Killen, M., & Abrams, D. (2010). A new social-cognitive developmental perspective on prejudice: The interplay between morality and group identity. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5, 280-291.
  • Killen, M., Kelly, M., Richardson, C., Crystal, D., & Ruck, M. (2010). European-American children’s and adolescents’ evaluations of interracial exclusion. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 13, 283-300.


University of Maryland Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture Social and Moral Development Research Group

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