Department Chair:
Nancy Darling

Administrative Assistant:
Joan Gleason, Severance Hall Building Rep. Academic Year-Severance Hall room reservations email Summer-Severance Hall room reservations email

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Phone: (440) 775-8355
Fax: (440) 775-8356

Severance Hall
120 West Lorain
Oberlin, OH, 44074

Office Hours: Academic Year - Monday through Friday - 8:00 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Summer Hours June to August - Monday through Friday TBD

Faculty News and Events

Faculty News and Events
Nancy Darling Presents, Participates in Roundtables

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling made five presentations, participated in two roundtable panels, and presented three research papers at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Adolescence in Baltimore.

For the Editor’s roundtable panel, Darling discussed writing and publication. She discussed professional issues for the roundtable Navigating the Mid-Career Years.

The three research papers Darling presented included:

  • A Dynamic Systems Simulation of the Patterning of Attachment Dyads: Co-authored by student Caitlyn Grubb and alumnus Ian Burns, the work grew out of Darling and Grubb’s work in an advanced methods course last Spring. It used the Nova software developed by Professor of Computer Science Richard Salter to model social networks of dating couples in early adulthood.
  • Seeking and Providing Support: Are There Normative Differences in Adolescent and Adult Romantic Dyads?: Based on observational data coded by teams of Oberlin students, the work was co-authored by Grubb and student Kinsey Denney.
  • Adolescent Information within the Family Context: This work continues Darling’s studies of adolescent disclosure and lying in a longitudinal study of Chilean youth.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS November 11, 2015

Assistant Professor of Psychology Meghan Morean studies the causes and consequences of substance abuse.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS September 11, 2015

The article “An Examination of Gender Differences in the American Fisheries Society’s Peer Review Process,” co-authored by Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz and Grace Handley ’12, has been published in the September issue of Fisheries, an American Fisheries Society publication. According to Frantz, she and Handley found gender differences but no evidence for gender bias on the part of editors and reviewers.

Frantz also delivered the invited talk "Metaphors as Magic Bullets? Harnessing Psychological Science to Promote Sustainability" on September 7 at Davidson College.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS August 27, 2015

Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz gave two talks in August at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association in Toronto.

The first talk, “Using Technology to Transform Environmental Norms, Identity, and Behavior,” was part of a symposium with David Miller, Toronto mayor from 2003-2010 and current World Wildlife Fund Canada president and CEO. The second talk, “What Is Systems Thinking and How Shall We Measure It? An Introduction,” was part of a symposium Frantz chaired, titled “The psychology of systems thinking: Implications for decision making, policy, and practice.”


Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz gave the talk "Harnessing the most powerful drivers of human behavior to promote wildlife conservation" at the USC Conference on Conservation, Computation, & Criminology (C4) on June 29, 2015, in Washington DC. The talk discussed how powerful motivations that are not in individuals’ economic or biological best interests can be harnessed to promote the protection of forests, fisheries, and wildlife.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS June 11, 2015

Richard Salter, professor of computer science, and Nancy Darling, professor of psychology, gave the 70-minute demonstration "Nova: A New Tool for System Dynamics, Agent-Based, and Spatial Modeling” at the Innovations in Collaborative Modeling conference held at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, on June 4. Drawn from Darling’s research, the demonstration applied the Nova modeling system to an example of social contagion of problem behavior in the classroom. Salter described how Nova, which he designed and implemented, was used to create that and other computational models.

At the same time, Wayne M. Getz, A. Starker Leopold professor of wildlife ecology at UC Berkeley, presented at the DIMACS MPE 2013+ Workshop on Management of Natural Resources about joint work with Salter. The paper, entitled “A Nova Model and Web App for Sustainable Harvesting and Population Viability Analyses in Teaching and Research,” discusses the application of the Nova software platform to constructing models and web applications for both harvesting and population viability analyses of African wildlife—particularly issues concerning rhino conservation.

Salter, Darling, Getz, and modeling expert Tony Starfield will all be at Oberlin College June 15-19 for the Workshop on Quantitative Reasoning Pedagogy & Computational Modeling with Nova Software, held in collaboration with the CLEAR center.


Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling was interviewed on Capetown South African radio by Abongile Nzelezele about her work on adolescent lying.

Darling has done research on adolescent lying and their decisions to share information with their parents in the U.S., Chile, Italy, Uganda, and the Philippines. She recently blogged about this work for Psychology Today in her piece “Why You Lied to Your Parents (and Whether They Believed You).” This work caught the eye of Nzelezele, who interviewed Darling about how accurate parents are at detecting lies, why and when adolescents lie, and what kind of parenting helps teens open up.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS April 28, 2015

Associate Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz, currently a visiting scholar at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, has given two invited talks at her host university.

The first talk, titled “Environmental Dashboard: Combining public displays of real-time resource use with community voices to engage, empower, and celebrate stewardship” was given at University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability's seminar series on April 16. The second talk, titled “Why do humans benefit from nature? An argument for the need to belong.” was given at the University of Otago’s Psychology Seminar series on April 20.

Frantz—along with Paul Thibodeau, assistant professor of psychology; John Petersen, director of environmental studies and Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of environmental studies; and Rumi Shammin, associate professor of environmental studies—has also been awarded a National Science Foundation grant from the Decision, Risk, and Management Sciences program for $329,325.

The grant focuses on systems thinking, a way of conceptualizing reality and making decisions that emphasizes relationships and interdependencies. Their research will empirically test the contention that systems thinking improves decision making. It will also test whether mental models, such as metaphors, can induce a systems thinking mindset and whether decision makers must value the system in question for systems thinking to have beneficial effects on decision making.

Do you shudder if you hear someone describe something as “moist?” As many as 20 percent of the population does, according to recent research conducted by Assistant Professor of Psychology Paul Thibodeau. The name for this phenomenon is word aversion—deep disgust in reaction to words like “moist,” “crevice,” “slacks,” or “luggage.” Word-averse participants in his study equated hearing the word moist “to the sound of fingernails scratching a chalkboard.”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Paul Thibodeau 
Photo By Jennifer Manna

Thibodeau was initially attracted to the topic because of the attention the word “moist” has received in popular culture—on Facebook, in television shows like How I Met Your Mother, The New Yorker, and People magazine for example—and the informal discussions about the phenomenon among psychologists and linguists. When several of his students expressed interest in the project as well, Thibodeau began to research moist and word aversion.

While there are many competing theories about what makes people want to cover their ears when they hear moist, according to Thibodeau’s study the actual sound of the word doesn’t seem to be one of them. Similar-sounding words like “foist,” “hoist,” and “rejoiced” failed to produce the same repulsed reaction moist did. His findings also challenge the facial-disgust theory—which posits that saying moist engages facial muscles that mirror disgust and therefore cause a disgusted reaction—because these similar-sounding words use the same facial expressions with little to no effect.

If it is not the sound of the word, what is it about this seemingly innocuous adjective that causes such disgust? It appears that the revulsion some harbor toward the word may lie in its connotations, and that context is key. According to Thibodeau’s study, people found moist particularly aversive when it followed unrelated positive words like paradise, or when associated with sexual words. However, when moist was used to describe something like cake, it received fewer averse reactions. Moist-averse participants also found words like “sticky” and “damp” very unpleasant, furthering this idea that it is the meaning behind the words people find repulsive rather that the words themselves.

It also seems that who you are may help determine your reaction to the word moist. Thibodeau found that certain groups of people were more likely to categorize themselves word-averse. Younger and more anxious participants reported higher word aversiveness as well as those with a particular disgust towards bodily functions. On the other hand, those who were particularly talkative were less likely to be word-averse.

Thibodeau’s research has received substantial press since its release, including articles on and Mental Floss. When describing how it feels to have research go viral, he says, “It is kind of weird and fun at the same time. Research projects take a long time to develop and it generally seems like no one cares very much about them most of the time. And then all of a sudden, a lot of people are interested in the work. I really enjoy talking to people about my work so that part is great.”

Thibodeau recently completed experiments to test whether preconceived ideas about moist’s aversiveness could cause word aversion. A write-up of the results is currently under review and he hopes to publish them soon.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS March 30, 2015

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling presented the results of three research projects at the Society for Research in Child Development 2015 Biennial Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work involved collaborations with colleagues from Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Tanzania. 

Darling co-authored a paper on parents' sexual socialialization of their adolescent children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with Lusajo Kajula, Sylvia Kaaya, and Heinz De Vries. This qualitative paper focused on the marked differences in parents' attitudes toward girls and boys as they enter adolescence. 

She also presented a poster on differences in how adolescents interact with their romantic partners during socially supportive and conflictual conversations. These data involved intense codinga of videotaped interactions. This paper was co-authored with Andrew Burns and four Oberlin undergraduates: Akensheye Daniels, Elena Gold, Will Lynch, and Caitlyn Rodgers.

Finally, Darling served as discussant for a panel of papers on the juncture between adolescents' right to privacy and parents' socialization goals and privacy invasion. Work included a discussion of parenting in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Darling (March, 2015). Privacy and Parenting During Late Childhood and Adolescence: Exploring Links Among Cognitions and Behaviors. Discussant for symposium presented at the Society for Research on Child Development Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Darling, N., Burns, A., Daniels, A., Gold, E., Lynch, W., & Rodgers, C. (March, 2015). Continuity in Observed Adolescent Behavior During Conflict and Social Support Interactions with Romantic Partners. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Child Development Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Kajula, L., Kaaya, S., Darling, N. De Vries, H. (March, 2015). Parenting practices and styles associated with adolescent sexual health in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Poster presented at the Society for Research on Child Development Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS Feb. 18, 2015

Nancy Darling, William and Jeannette Smith chair of psychology, has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Journal of Adolescence, a leading journal in developmental psychology that focuses on age-related change in the second decade of life.

The Journal is unique in its international perspective. It is operated by the Foundation for Professionals in Services to Adolescents, a UK based organization, and publishes research related in adolescent health and development from researchers in psychology, biology, sociology, epidemeology, economics, medicine, and related fields. Darling had served as an associate editor for the Journal for the past eight years.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS Nov. 21, 2014

Assistant Professor of Psychology Travis Wilson is the recipient of the 2014 American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the field of Human Development. The award goes to the most outstanding publication in the field of human development stemming from a doctoral dissertation. Wilson’s paper was co-authored by Dr. Philip C. Rodkin (deceased) and was published in the 2013 volume of Child Development, the flagship journal of the Society for Research in Child Development:

Wilson, T.M., & Rodkin, P. C. (2013). Children’s cross-ethnic relations in contemporary elementary schools: Concurrent and prospective associations between ethnic segregation and social status. Child Development, 84, 1081-1097.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS Nov. 21, 2014

Assistant Professor of Psychology Travis Wilson has been awarded a grant of $50,000 from the Spencer Foundation for his project titled, 'A Longitudinal Study of School-based Relationships, Academic Motivation, and School Outcomes among Low-income African-American Youth.' Wilson is examining developmental change and within-group variability among low-income African-American elementary school children in their academic motivation and relationships with peers and teachers at school.

Posted by OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS April 30, 2014

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling was quoted in the Chicago Tribune article, “Creating support when you're raising kids away from family.”

The Source: Oberlin on Campus May 7, 2014

Associate Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz has received the 2014 Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). Her award citation made note of her classroom application of psychological theories to current social issues and her guidance of student research. The SPSSI also invited to speak at the this summer at the 2014 SPSSI Conference in a special SPSSI teaching session.


March 18, 2014

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling is a coauthor of a paper that was awarded the Albert Bandura Award For Excellence for graduate research by Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology, and the American Psychological Society. The award was given for the paper “Rejection sensitivity and (mis)perceptions of romantic ” which will be presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence’s biennial meeting, taking place March 20 to 22 in Austin, Texas. A collaborative research project with Jerika Norika, Joe Salvatore (a graduate student at the University of Tennessee), Deborah Welsh, and Nancy Darling, the paper began as Jerika’s master's thesis project. Jerika traveled to Oberlin last spring to learn some advanced statistical techniques and consult on the project, completing the work over the summer.

November 14-17, 2013

Professor of Psychology Patricia deWinstanley and two students, senior Ruthie Wittenberg and junior Hannah Gilfix, attended the annual meeting of the Psychonomics Society, held November 14 to 17 in Toronto. They presented their work on the role that sleep plays in the consolidation of emotional memories.  Poster presentation in Severance Laboratory, second floor landing.

The Source: Oberlin on Campus 11/19/2013

February 2013

Nancy Darling was awarded an honorary doctorate by Orebro University in Sweden. The ceremony included being crowned with laurels to the firing of a cannon, being wedding to science with a doctoral ring, and the awarding of a diploma. A five hour banquet followed the ceremony. Professor Darling was nominated for the award by past president of the European Association for Research in Adolescence for her international work on parenting.

The Source: Oberlin on Campus 10/11/2012

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling participated in a roundtable discussion at the Amsterdam Privacy Conference on the balance between responsible parenting and adolescent privacy. This discussion featured other leading experts in the field from the United States and the Netherlands. The Amsterdam Privacy Conference is put on by the University of Amsterdam and focuses on legal and ethical issues in privacy. It brings together scholars from computer science, law, philosophy, medicine, and the social sciences. Darling also spoke at Orebro University's psychology department, presenting “It’s a matter of privacy: Understanding the role of parents in the development of adolescents’ privacy domain,” to an audience of predominantly clinical psychologists. She discussed her work on the decisions of adolescents in the United States, Chile, and Sweden to share information with their parents. Her work includes observational research of 5th through 7th graders and their mothers, which Darling conducted with her Oberlin College students.

September 24, 2012

Psychology professor Nancy Darling was feaured on CNN Radio's September 24 installment, “Experts: Watch your kids' screen time.” Darling said that while touch-screen devices can be fun to play with, they're far from the perfect learning tool: “It's a cool toy but it's a very impoverished environment. It doesn't smell. It doesn't have textures. It only moves in very specific, predictable ways. So it's actually a much less rich environment than other kinds of toys that they have." Listen to the full program on CNN Radio's Soundwaves website.

The Source: Oberlin OnCampus September 26, 2012

March 21, 2012

Professors David W. Orr, Cindy Frantz, and John Petersen '88 spoke about the Oberlin Project at the Garrison Institute's third annual Climate, Mind, and Behavior (CBM) symposium in February.

March 08, 2012

Volk-mcmillin-dewinstanley Horizontal

Three faculty members have been appointed Teagle Teaching Fellows by the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA). Patricia deWinstanley (psychology), Laurie McMillin (rhetoric), and Steven Volk (history) will have key roles in a pilot project that explores different modes of teaching to improve student learning and achievement.

The three are among 20 fellows who were chosen through a selective process of nomination and application. They are distinguished not just by their knowledge of research on human learning and teaching techniques, but also by their strong interest in working with faculty colleagues within and across GLCA member colleges to strengthen liberal arts teaching and learning.  

The project, called the GLCA Lattice for Pedagogical Research and Practice, will engage faculty on their own campuses and other GLCA schools, helping to generate interest in new approaches that hold promise for improved learning in the liberal arts. Teagle fellows will participate in a series of campus, regional, and consortium-wide events targeting pedagogical research and practice. In face-to-face as well as follow-up digital exchanges, Teagle fellows will serve as resources and sounding boards to help other faculty members consider potential approaches to enhance teaching, and in some cases to support formal projects to implement alternative teaching methods.

Teagle fellow Steven Volk, professor of history, says colleges tend to be insular; the advantage of being an active part of the GLCA consortium is that faculty among all the campuses will benefit from faculty visits supported by the Teagle Fellowship Program. Volk, who is director of the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence at Oberlin, received the 2011 Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges U.S. Professor of the Year award.

“The program will give us the opportunity to explore the teaching and learning occurring in a number of campuses, and thereby to inform our own programs,” says Volk. “It will allow us to share our own experience with the campuses we visit, and it will encourages us, in preparation for our own visits, to take stock of and assess the varied teaching styles and approaches practiced by our own faculty. The insights generated at the Teagle Pedagogy Fellows meetings will continue to prove valuable in programmatic terms and in thinking about issues that we, as teachers in liberal arts settings, all face.”

One of the challenges students face at a liberal arts college such as Oberlin is that they are asked to write for a wide variety of purposes for diverse fields, says Laurie McMillin, professor of rhetoric and composition.

“It's hard for students to do this well without some instruction and assistance from faculty,” McMillin says. “Part of my job is to work with faculty to help them figure out how to integrate writing into their classes to accomplish their learning goals. As I see it, writing is not a "skill" that can be mastered once and for all; rather, it's something that can be a key part of learning, discovery, and reflection. Through the GLCA project, I want to find out more about how students learn, and how writing can be part of that process.”

Basic research on human memory when applied to classroom learning can improve course design, presentations, and student outcomes, says psychology professor Patty deWinstanley.

“One of the goals of my own research has been the application of basic memory principles to enhance student learning from lectures, effective note-taking, and study techniques,” she says. As a result, I have had the pleasure of working with groups of faculty both at Oberlin and at some of our peer institutions,” she says. “In the dozens of workshops that I have attended or helped to organize, I have gained significantly from my participation, always leaving a workshop with several new ideas that I then attempt to either incorporate into my research program or to try out in one of my classes. I believe that the Teagle Pedagogy Fellows program will provide the opportunity for more discussion about the application of the scholarship of teaching and learning.”

Founded in 1962, the GLCA is a nonprofit organization governed by 13 selective liberal arts colleges in the Midwest: Albion, Allegheny, Antioch, DePauw, Denison, Earlham, Hope, Kalamazoo, Kenyon, Oberlin, Ohio Wesleyan, Wabash, and Wooster. Its purpose is to strengthen and extend education in the tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.

Jan. 10, 2012

Psychology professor Nancy Darling is an international collaborator on the grant: "Interacción entre prácticas, estilos parentales y características de los hijos sobre indicadores de bienestar en adolescentes." The research, funded by FondeCYF—the Chilean equivalent of the National Science Foundation—continues Darling's longtime collaboration with Patricio Cumsille and Loreto Martinez of the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. This project grows out of her second five-year longitudinal study of adolescent development in the context of family, school, and peers and includes more than 3,000 youth and families. This ongoing line of research are the first longitudinal studies of adolescents in South America.

Sept. 23, 2011

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling presented her research on reciprocal processes of parent-adolescent socialization at an invitational meeting at the National Cancer Institute. The institute convened a small group of researchers from around the country to discuss family and contextual influences on obesity, exercise, and other childhood risk factors for cancer. Researchers from the fields of nutrition, pediatrics, prevention science, social work, and developmental psychology identified key research needs and areas of consensus across disciplines.

Sept. 7, 2011

Senior Grace Handley and Associate Professor of Psychology Cindy Frantz recently traveled to Seattle to present two invited talks to the American Fisheries Society's (AFS) editorial boards. Accusations of gender bias in the review process of this traditionally male-dominated field led AFS officials to commission a study of their peer review data base. Handley, under the supervision of Frantz, extracted a rich data set containing information about authors' gender, reviewers' gender, reviewer and editor evaluations, and the number of revisions. Results suggested that men have a publication advantage, but not because they receive more positive reviews or editorial decisions. Handley will test several potential explanations for the gender gap in her honors thesis during the coming year.

Aug. 4, 2011

Psychology professor Nancy Darling is the keynote speaker at the Brazilian Symposium on Family and Human Development. Her address, Adolescent Development in Cultural Context, takes place August 5. The symposium is sponsored by the Brazilian Pediatric Society and the Pediatricians Society of the State of Paraná. She also will speak at Irati University. Earlier this summer, Darling spoke with a reporter from the Washington Post and was quoted in the resulting article, "Don’t Overschedule Kids in the Summer."

April 27, 2011

During spring break, Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling and third-year students Rose Wesche and Gizem Iskenderoglu attended the Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting in Montreal. Wesche and Iskenderoglu are coauthors with Darling, Wesche on a poster and Iskenderoglu on a paper that they presented at the meeting. Wesche’s research, “Affectionate and Sexual Behavior in Adolescent Dyads: A Pattern Approach,” examines affectionate and genital sexual behaviors in adolescent romantic couples. It is based on work she completed as an Oberlin Research Scholar. Iskenderoglu’s paper, “Desire for Privacy at the Cusp of Adolescence,” is an observational study of mother-child interactions during the transition from elementary to middle school. Darling wrote about the research in her Psychology Today blog, Thinking About Kids, in her April 27 entry, “Want Your Tween to Open Up? Listen!”

Feb. 11, 2011

Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling has a blog, Thinking About Kids, with Psychology Today. Her discussion of Tiger Moms, Flinching From the Tiger Mom, was one of the most read posts for the month of January 2011.