Joan E. Grusec

Professor Emerita


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

In our lab, we study determinants of parenting and the impact of different kinds of parenting on children’s social and emotional outcomes. We want to know what makes parents effective in achieving their socialization goals. We are also interested in what makes some parents more effective than others at this task. Lack of knowledge about how to successfully help children learn to function well in society is one variable that determines parenting effectiveness. But there are other reasons for problematic parenting that are not so straightforward.
Thus we are particularly interested in cognitions (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions that interfere with the ability of parents to apply their knowledge of how to raise children.

With respect to effective parenting, it is evident that this does not involve simply the application of specific strategies and techniques, or the adoption of specific styles of interaction. Outcomes for children depend on the interaction of parenting strategies and features of children (e.g., temperament, age, sex, mood). As well, children are operating in different domains relevant to socialization, that is, they are behaving in a given way for any number of reasons, and different parental responses are appropriate in different domains. For example, children could be acting badly because they are distressed and need comforting or because they lack knowledge and need information or because they are showing off and need to be ignored. My students and I are trying to identify the conditions that promote parents’ knowledge in these various areas and the successful application of that knowledge.

Dr. Grusec is retired and no longer accepting new students.