Developmental Psychology, University of California, Irvine
Cohort Eight Fellow

Kelli Dickerson.jpg

Academic Mentor
Jodi Quas, PhD
Professor of Psychology, University of California, Irvine

Policy Mentor
Judge Gassia Apkarian
Juvenile Dependency at The Superior Court of California

Areas of Expertise
Youth Development, Mental Health and Well-Being, Child Welfare and Foster Care Systems


Kelli Dickerson is a doctoral candidate in the department of Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests center on the development of socio-emotional processes, including emotion recognition, emotion regulation, and empathic and prosocial behavior, in children who have endured maltreatment. She is primarily interested in approaching these topics from a translational perspective, using empirical research to develop effective tools, interventions, and policies to promote positive development in vulnerable children and adolescents. Ms. Dickerson received her B.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University and her M.A. in Social Ecology from the University of California, Irvine.


Promoting Empathy and Prosocial Behavior in Maltreated Children

Considerable attention has been focused on the impact of maltreatment on children’s well-being, initially and across the lifespan. Much of this attention has centered on identifying the severity and breadth of negative consequences that emerge following maltreatment and reducing risk for these outcomes. Given the cycles of violence that often define the lives of maltreated children and affect their families, communities, and even subsequent generations, the extensive attention to these domains is warranted. Far less attention, however, has been directed toward understanding and augmenting positive capacities in maltreated children, capacities that may promote social functioning, and in doing so may help disrupt oft-recurring cycles of abuse. In this dissertation, the focus will be on the latter, positive social processes in maltreated children, including whether these processes can be enhanced. Findings will provide new direction for policy and practice aimed at cultivating positive development in children at risk for negative outcomes.