Melanie Killen, Ph.D. is Professor of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology and Professor of Psychology (Affiliate) at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Children and Social Exclusion: Morality, Prejudice and Group Identity (2011), co-editor of Social Development in Childhood and Adolescence: A Contemporary Reader (2011), and serves as the Editor of the Handbook of Moral Development (2006, 2014, 2023). She is a Fellow of APS, APA, and SPSSI. Dr. Killen has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) for her research on social exclusion, moral reasoning, and intergroup attitudes. Her research on children’s racial attitudes was profiled at the “NSF Highlights on Research” by the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. She was invited to present her research at the Coalition for National Science Funding in Washington, D.C., with senators and congressional staff on social science research-funded projects. In addition to her published empirical journal articles and book chapters, her book on morality in everyday life won the outstanding book award from the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Killen served as Associate Editor for the journal Child Development, and was a founding member of the Equity and Justice Committee for the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development. Dr. Killen’s research areas of expertise include children’s and adolescents’ social cognition, morality, origins of prejudice and bias, conceptions of social inequalities, and school-based interventions to reduce prejudice. She studies morality in the context of social exclusion, prejudice and bias, and theory of mind.


  • PhD
    University of California, Berkeley

Mentorship is the core of my research philosophy. I mentor students who become collaborators in the research program.

Research Methods
Origins of prejudice and bias in childhood
Social Cognition
Research Interests
Social Cognition and Theory of Mind
Melanie Killen
3304B Benjamin Building
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
mkillen [at]
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