Social Psychology Network

Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Diane Ruble

Diane Ruble

How is social knowledge formed, and how does it affect the social functioning and adaptation of children and adolescents? Most people are familiar with the dramatic accomplishments of young children in learning various cognitive and physical skills, such as language and walking, within a short period of time. By the time children enter school, they have also learned a great deal about their social world, including knowledge about social categories, such as gender and race, and knowledge about other attributes of persons, including authority relationships and roles. My research is concerned with the acquisition of such kinds of social knowledge and its implications for children's identity development, perceptions of competence, choices, and behaviors.

One major focus of my research concerns when and how children's growing knowledge about gender influences their own behaviors. Numerous observations suggest that at around 4-6 years of age, children become very interested in learning how the sexes differ and making sure that they themselves behave in accordance with gender norms. I am examining what socialization processes, such as division of labor in the home, affect the acquisition of knowledge about gender-related stereotypes and norms, and how this knowledge, in turn, influences the rigidity of children's gender-typed preferences and behaviors across the preschool and early school years.

A related research focus is concerned with the emergence of children's knowledge about cultural views of ethnic/racial differences. As with the research on gender, I am examining whether there is a period of rigidity in children's ethnic-related choices and behaviors and whether this is related to the development of prejudice. Finally, I am examining the development of children's perceptions of themselves and others in terms of stable characteristics, such as personality traits and areas of competence, and some of the antecedents and consequences of these changes.

Primary Interests:

  • Culture and Ethnicity
  • Gender Psychology
  • Prejudice and Stereotyping
  • Self and Identity
  • Social Cognition


  • Ruble, D.N., Costanzo, P.E., & Oliveri, M.E. (Eds.). (1992). Social psychology and mental health. New York: Guilford.

Journal Articles:

  • Alvarez, J.M., Ruble, D.N., & Bolger, N. (2001). The role of evaluation in the development of person perception. Child Development.
  • Cameron, J.A., Alvarez, J.M., Ruble, D.N., & Fuligni, A.J. (2001). Children's lay theories about ingroups and outgroups: Reconceptualizing research on "prejudice." Personality and Social Psychology Review.
  • Ruble, D.N., Taylor, L.J., et al. (2007). The role of gender constancy in early gender development. Child Development, 78, 1121-1136.

Other Publications:

  • Ruble, D.N. (1994). A phase model of transitions: Cognitive and motivational consequences. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 26, 163-214.
  • Ruble, D.N., & Dweck, C. (1995). Self-conceptions, person conceptions, and their development. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology: Social Development (Vol. 15). Thousand Oaks: CA.
  • Ruble, D.N., & Goodnow, J. (1998). Social development from a lifespan perspective. In D. Gilbert, S. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Ruble, D.N., Martin, C., & Berenbaum, S. (2006). Gender development. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3, Personality and Social Development (6th edition). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Ruble, D.N., & Seidman, E. (1996). Social transitions: Windows into social psychological processes. In E.T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Handbook of social processes. New York: Guilford.

Diane Ruble
Department of Psychology
New York University
6 Washington Place, Room 403
New York, New York 10003
United States of America

  • Phone: (212) 998-7818
  • Fax: (212) 995-4966

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