My research investigates how people make sense of themselves across the life course, and the role of culture and cultural change in sense-making processes. Of particular interest is how people convey self-conceptions via positioning themselves in relation to others, and in relation to their past and future selves. I furthermore study how culture structures the development of self and the developmental implications of globalization.
Much of my work has focused on three overarching developmental domains: morality and moral personhood, divinity and religion, and identity and self.
Morality & Moral Personhood
Employing qualitative and quantitative methods, I study moral reasoning, moral personhood, and moral life courses. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the moral self is culturally constructed, and in the ways in which rapid economic and sociocultural change impacts conceptions of the moral self. This work is grounded in Lene Jensen's cultural-developmental theoretical approach, which synthesizes decades of developmental and cultural research on moral reasoning and conceptions of self.
Divinity & Religion
In this line of work, I qualitatively and quantitatively examine people's conceptions of themselves as divine persons, the religious practices in which they engage, and psychological orientations toward religion. Here too, I am interested in the ways in which people's conceptions of divinity and religious practices are culturally constructed, as well as the ways in which rapid economic and sociocultural change impacts religious practices and orientations toward religion. This work is grounded in Lene Jensen's cultural-developmental theoretical approach and Patricia Greenfield's theory of social change and human development.
Identity & Self
I study identity construction and negotiations of global and local cultures in rapidly globalizing cultural contexts. This qualitative research is grounded in Hubert Hermans's dialogical self theory, Patricia Greenfield's theory of social change and human development, and LaFromboise and colleagues' alternation model of biculturalism.
Culture & Cultural Change
No matter the developmental domain, I foreground culture in my work. My research has extended across nations, sociodemographic ecologies, and religious belief systems.
My primary research site is northern Thailand, where I began conducting longitudinal ethnography in 2012 (thanks to the Society for Research on Adolescence's Innovative Small Grant Award). Through interviews and participant observation with adolescents and parents residing in urban and rural communities, I examine the implications of globalization on moral personhood, religious practices, and identity construction.
I have also studied moral reasoning and life course narratives among evangelical and mainline Protestant children, adolescents, and adults in the United States.