Our Philosophy

In order to accomplish the goals of the Institute, studies necessarily include multiple levels of analysis. These range from characterizing the environment to studying the relation between brain and behavior using brain imaging technology. Current work includes behavioral teratology through studies of the long term effects of prenatal drug and other toxic exposures and conditions; identifying factors that affect behavioral and physiological reactions to stress and the capacity to cope with stress; the impact of deviant caregiving and traumatic events in the child's life on the development of self-worth and other self-evaluative emotions; and the study of normal cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Four philosophical principles guide our work:

  1. The development of the child is an interactive process, an outgrowth of the child's own skills and biological capacities at any point in time and the environment in which the child is immersed;
  2. The child is a social individual connected to an expanding network including first, family, and subsequently, friends and the larger community;
  3. Each child is a potentially competent, active learner with multiple and interdependent intellectual skills;
  4. The child's emotional life is a central component of the developing self. Pathologies in this aspect may lead to serious illness, which include immunocompetence failures and mental problems.

These principles represent broad areas of concern within which specific basic and applied research programs and clinical services of the Institute operate. Our research examines normative growth and individual differences in normal and atypical populations.