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Developmental Psychology

Rita Vuyk Lectures

Developmental Psychology

Since January 2009 the department of Developmental Psychology has been organizing the "Rita Vuyk Lectures".

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These lectures are in honour of prof.dr. Margueritha Vuyk. She was the first full professor in Developmental Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. See the Album Academicum of the University of Amsterdam for more information.

Album Academicum of the University of Amsterdam

These monthly lectures will have a diverse character with a wide range of eminent speakers and could be of interest to both students and employees from all departments. Here, the dates, speakers and topics for the Rita Vuyk lectures are listed.

For upcoming lectures see below. For a full overview see the Archive.

Tuesday, 3rd of September, 16:00-17:00 in REC JK1.18, Prof. dr. Bram Orobio De Castro, Utrecht University

If you want to understand something, try to change it! Using experimental intervention designs to unravel transactional processes in the development of psychopathology.

Mental health problems tend to develop early in life. The past decades much progress has been made in describing how such problems develop over the life course and which factors are correlated with their escalation and chronicity. Yet we know far less about the causal processes that drive these processes. This is unfortunate, because effective prevention and treatment require a thorough understanding of the mechanisms involved in the development of psychopathology. Moreover, the apparent confusion between descriptions of problems and their explanation has led to an abundance of vague labels with concomitant interventions, that may actually do more to stigmatize children than to effectively help them. 

Thus, we urgently need to understand which processes drive the development of psychopathology and how mendable these processes are. Possibly, multiple adverse developmental pathways are actually driven by similar mechanisms: transactions between child and environmental characteristics that evoke and maintain each other. If so, intervening on these mechanisms may help prevent and treat a broad array of psychological and behavior problems.

To test whether such transactional mechanisms actually drive problematic development (or are mere passive correlates), we can use experimental designs to target these mechanisms. The past years we – and others – have been trying to do so, with a focus on family processes, social cognitive processes, and classroom peer relations. I will use this research to illustrate how we can use experimental intervention research to understand causal processes and to develop cost-effective early prevention and intervention for psychological and behavior problems like bullying, aggression, delinquency, school drop-out, and intergenerational transmission of such problems.

This lecture is hosted by Marija Maric