Developmental and social psychology

A person grows, develops and changes a lot during their life. What role do genes and the environment play in human nature? How do the school system and socialising with other people affect us? See what topics our researchers are working on in developmental and social psychology.

Children's development in changing environments

To what extent are culture-specific value orientation and changes in it over time reflected in parenting and in the pattern of family conversation, and how these, in turn, are associated with language and communication development, the acquisition of culture-specific value orientation and psychological adjustment of children? We are also interested in the ways of supporting child development and adjustment during the challenging times like the pandemic. We also make cross-cultural research on child development and parenting.

Researchers: Tiia Tulviste, Pirko Tõugu, Anni Tamm, Ada Urm, Jane Kuperjanov 

A selection of publications:

  • Tiia Tulviste, Deborah L. Best, & Judith L. Gibbons (Eds.) (2019). Children’s Social Worlds in Cultural Context. Springer.10.1007/978-3-030-27033-9. 
  • Tulviste, T., Mizera, L., & De Geer, B. (2012). Socialization values in stable and changing societies: A comparative study of Estonian, Swedish, and Russian Estonian mothers. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(3) 480–497. 
  • Tulviste, T., Tõugu, P., Keller, H., Schröder, L., De Geer, B. (2016). Children’s and mothers’ contribution to joint reminiscing in different sociocultural contexts: who speaks and what is said. Infant and Child Development, 25(1), 43-63.  

The development of language and the factors that influence it

To what extent do the richness of the child language environment and the conversational style of parents explain the wide variability in children’s language and conversational skills, vocabulary, grammar, and narrative skills? We take into account also other factors likely to influence child language development such as child gender, parental education, the number of siblings, the time spent at daycare etc.  As digital devices play a role in daily family life, special attention is paid to the question of a healthy balance between the time with digital devices vs. face-to face verbal interaction with children. 

Researchers: Tiia Tulviste, Ada Urm, Anni Tamm, Jane Kuperjanov 

A selection of publications:

Developmental changes in identities, values and relationships

How is identity formed through different stages of life and how does identity formation relate to a well-being, mental health and coping? Which factors are linked to value acquisition and to the development of a relatively stable value system? Which values relate to children’s well-being, development, and better relations at home, school, and with peers? We also examine developmental characteristics of children’s and adults’ different types of relationships and interaction processes. Special attention is paid to the resolution and evaluation of conflicts.

Researchers: Anni Tamm, Tiia Tulviste, Pirko Tõugu, Andero Teras 

A selection of publications:  

Educational and other digital products

Research of educational and psychological aspects of digital products through user experience studies and surveys. 

Researchers: Iiris Tuvi 

A selection of publications:

Career management skills

In collaboration with HARNO we aim to create a questionnaire to assess the career management skills described in SA Innove (2012) model of career management skills. The questionnaire will be used to assess the level of career-management skills of the graduates. 

Researchers: Triin Liin 

Social representations

Social representations are a system of beliefs, values, metaphors, and practices that underlie everday communication, social reality and social objects. They are developed and often used in societal psychology that engages in research about problems and issues in societies. Social representations are an approach to conceptually bridge the individual/collective divide. It has parallels in anthropological and sociological theorizing about social constructionism and discursive psychology. 

Researchers: Wolfgang Wagner 

A selection of publications: 

  • Wagner, W., & Hayes, N. (2005). Everyday Discourse and Common Sense - The Theory of Social Representations. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan. 
  • Wagner, W. (2015). Representation in action.  In G. Sammut, E. Andreouli, G. Gaskell, & J. Valsiner (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Social Representations (pp. 12-28).  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Wagner, W. (2020). Social representation theory: An historical outline. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology, Social Psychology, History and Systems of Psychology, 1-30.
  • Wagner, W., Kello, K., & Rämmer, A. (2018). Making social objects: The theory of social representation. In A. Rosa & J. Valsiner (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Sociocultural Psychology (2nd edition) (pp. 130-147).  Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Intergroup relations

Relations between groups are of utmost importance in societies because they determine the quality of social life in societies and are at the heart of global conflicts. This research focuses on the self-definition of groups (identities) and how these relate to a group's perception by other groups (stereotyping), as well as to political propaganda where others are denigrated to justify aggression.  

Researchers: Wolfgang Wagner 

A selection of publications:

  • Wagner, W., Holtz, P., & Kashima, Y. (2009). Construction and deconstruction of essence in representing social groups: Identity projects, stereotyping, and racism. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 39(3), 363-383. 
  • Wagner, W., Kello, K., & Sakki, I. (2018). Politics, identity and perspectives in history textbooks.  In K. van Nieuwenhuyse & J. Pires Valentim (Eds.), The Colonial Past in History Textbooks - Historical and Social Psychological Perspectives (pp. 31-50).  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishers. 
  • Wagner, W. (2021). Groups in contact: Meta-representations, interobjectivity, and cultural incompatibilities. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 51(1), 2-24.


See all of our employees' publications here!


Health and well-being

Cognitive and affective psychology

Personality psychology

Developmental and social psychology


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