Faculty Directory

Killen, Melanie

Killen, Melanie

Associate Director
College of Education
Brain and Behavior Institute
3304L Benjamin Building

Melanie Killen is Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, Professor of Psychology (Affiliate), and the Associate Director for the Center for Children, Relationships, and Culture at the University of Maryland. She has received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her research on children’s and adolescents’ development. She was awarded the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award by the Provost from the University of Maryland for 2008-2009, and the Graduate Mentor of the Year Award as well as the Undergraduate Mentor of the Year Award from the Graduate School at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Killen is the author of Children and Social Exclusion: Morality, Prejudice and Group Identity (2011) and co-editor of Social Development in Childhood and Adolescence: A Contemporary Reader (2011), and she has co–edited 6 books, including serving as the Editor of the Handbook on Moral Development (2006; 2014), and has published 2 monographs. She has published over 150 empirical journal articles and book chapters, and her book on morality in everyday life won the outstanding book award from the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Killen served as an expert witness in a school desegregation case, and helped prepare two Supreme Court briefs regarding the impact of school desegregation on children’s social development. She has also served as a consultant for a federal initiative on interventions designed to reduce prejudice and to promote inclusion in U.S. elementary schools. Dr. Killen serves on the expert advisory panel for the new National Children’s Museum in Washington, D.C., and her research has been profiled in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Examiner, The American Scientist, The Chronicle of Higher Education, American School Board Journal, Teaching Tolerance Magazine, ABCNews.com, Newsweek.com, Parenting, Parent–Wise Magazine, Redbook, Baby Journal, as well as featured on CNN AC360 with Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien for a show on children and racial bias, which won an Emmy Award.

Dr. Killen’s research areas of expertise include children’s and adolescents’ social and moral reasoning, peer relationships, inclusion and exclusion, intergroup relationships and attitudes, prejudice and bias, gender roles, social development, social competence, theory of mind, and the role of school environments on child and adolescent development.

  • Social cognitive development
  • Morality
  • Intergroup relationships 
  • Social reasoning and prejudice
  • Peer exclusion, rejection, and victimization
  • Morality and Theory of Mind
  • Intergroup contact, implicit biases
  • Culture and social exclusion
  • Theory of mind