• Chair and Professor of Psychology
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Education

  • Bachelor of Science, Cornell University, 1981
  • Master of Science, Cornell University, 1987
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Cornell University, 1990

Biography

Nancy Darling's Lab; Online interview with Nancy Darling

Adolescent social relations encompass changing relationships with parents and peers, the initiation of romantic relationships, and an expanding social world that includes greater and more unsupervised interactions with the community and a more sophisticated and multidimensional conception of peers. As a developmental psychologist, my research focuses on how adolescents influence and are influenced by these social relationships and how these different social spheres interact to change the course of individual development. Because many of these processes aren't amenable to experimental manipulation (they don't let you randomly assign parental divorce to adolescents to see how it affects them), I have become particularly interested in two different aspects of the study of psychology: contextual variability and research methods.

Research

Although all scientists work to develop generalizable models, developmental psychologists in particular have focused on looking at lawful variability in basic processes. For example, does severe, strict parenting have the same influence on children living in dangerous urban environments as it does on youth in the suburbs? Does it have similar effects on boys and girls? On youth in the Philippines and the United States? Natural variability in basic processes across different individuals and in different situations provides critical insight into human development and has in some ways substituted for experimental manipulation in aspects of social development not well suited to laboratory study. Interest in contextual variability has led me to study adolescents in Japan, the Philippines, Chile, Italy, and in many different types of communities within the United States. And the complexity of these processes and the need to understand how the development of individuals is embedded in their relationships with others has led to a deep interest in statistics and research methods. Our science is only as good as our models.

Notes

  • Nancy Darling Presents, Participates in Roundtables

    April 5, 2016

    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.
    • Nancy Darling Presents

      November 13, 2015

      Professor of Psychology Nancy Darling presented an invited workshop on dynamic systems modeling at the prestigious Theory Construction and Research Methodology pre-session of the National Council of Family Relations in Vancouver, British Columbia.

      The three-hour session introduced dynamic systems modeling as a complement to more traditional statistical techniques in the study of human development and the family. The hands-on component of the workshop focused on using Nova, a software product developed by Richard Salter, professor of computer science, for dynamic systems, agent-based, and spacial modeling (novamodler.com).

      Models of teacher-adolescent interactions and romantic attachment grew out of work done with students in Darling's upper-level course on advanced methods for the study of adolescent development. Additional models of longitudinal change in romantic pairings were developed with Ian Burns ’10. Other models presented include Excel models developed with Elizabeth Lockman ’12.

    • Richard Salter, Nancy Darling Give Demonstration

      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.

    • Nancy Darling Interviewed on South African Radio

      May 5, 2015

      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.

    • Nancy Darling Presents Results of Research Projects

      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.

    • Nancy Darling Appointed Editor-in-Chief

      February 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.