Emeritus Professor of Psychology
Social, Developmental


Social Development and Achievement Motivation

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 3-5 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 how both cognitive and socialization processes, such as division of labor in the home, affect the acquisition of knowledge about gender-related stereotypes and norms.  I am also examining how this knowledge, in turn, influences the rigidity of children's gender-typed preferences and behaviors across the preschool and early school years.

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Ph.D. 1973 (psychology), California (Los Angeles)
B.A (honors) 1967 (psychology), Stanford


- American Psychological Society
- Society for Research in Child Development
- Society for Experimental Social Psychology


- Research Scientist Award
- National Institute of Mental Health Merit Award

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Selected Publications

Ruble, D. N., Alvarez, J. M., Bachman, M., Cameron, J.A., Fuligni, A.J., Garcia Coll, C., & Rhee, E. (2004). The development of a sense of "we": The emergence and implications of children's collective identity. In M. Bennett and F. Sani (Eds.) The development of the social self. East Sussex, England: Psychology Press.

Martin, C.L., & Ruble, D.N. (2004). Children's search for gender cues: Cognitive perspectives on gender development. Current directions in psychological science, 13, 67-70.

Martin, C.L., Ruble, D.N., & Szkrybalo, J. (2002). Cognitive theories of early gender development. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 903-933.

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, 5, 118-128.

Ruble, D.N. (1994). A phase model of transitions: Cognitive and motivational consequences. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psycholog, 26, 163214.

Ruble, D.N., Taylot, L.J., Cyphers, L., Greulich, F.K., Lurye, L.E., & Shrout, P.E. (2007). The role of gender constancy in early gender development. Child Development, 78, 1121-1136.

Zosuls, K.M., Ruble, D.N., Tamis-LeMonda, C.S., Shrout, P.E., Bornstein, M.H., Greulich, F.K. (2009). The acquisition of gender labels in infancy: Implications for sex-typed play. Developmental Psychology, 45, 688-701.

Gonzalez, C., Zosuls, K.M., & Ruble, D.N. (2010). Traits as dimensions or categories? Developmental changes in the understanding of trait terms. Developmental Psychology, 46, 1078-1088.

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: Wiley.

Martin, C., & Ruble, D.N. (2010). Patterns of gender development.  Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 353-381.

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Diane N. Ruble
Professor of Psychology

Department of Psychology
New York University
6 Washington Place, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10003
Phone: (212) 998-7818
Fax: (212) 995-4966
Email: diane.ruble@nyu.edu

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