William V.B. Damon
Education scholar; Developmental psychologist; Educator
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Scholar of human development. Studied the development of purpose in adolescents and young adults and discussed this research for a public audience in The Path to Purpose (2008). Conducted studies on how children acquire social knowledge, identifying the contributions of reasoning, role models, knowledge of the social domain, and influence of peer interactions. Some Do Care (1992), with Anne Colby, followed persons who devote themselves unstintingly to missions and documented the role played by a sense of identity and the continuing commitment to noble purposes throughout life. Greater Expectations (1995) outlined new approaches to higher standards in family, school, and communal settings. Subsequently, in the light of his and others' developmental research, developed the 'youth charter' approach (The Youth Charter, 1997), where stakeholders in a community agree on a set of goals and standards to be realized jointly across generations. Leader in studying use of non-cognitive capacities such as purpose and grit in education. Member of Hoover Institution's Virtues for a Free Society task force and author of Failing Liberty 101 (2011). Founding editor of New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development and twice editor in chief of the Handbook of Child Psychology (1997, 2006).