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College of the Liberal Arts

PSU ShieldPsychology Banner ImageDepartment ofPsychology

Lynn S. Liben
Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Ph. D., University of Michigan, 1972


Mailing Address

Department of Psychology
The Pennsylvania State University
509 Moore Bldg
University Park, PA 16802-3106


814 863-1718


814 863-7002

Research Interests

Dr. Liben's research focuses on children=s developing understanding of external spatial representations such as maps and photographs. She has applied her research to a variety of educational contexts including children’s television (e.g., Sesame Street), magazines (e.g., Highlights for Children), museums (e.g., The Exploratorium), art education, and to classroom instruction in geography and geology. A second focus of Dr. Liben's work is on the development of gender and racial stereotypes, including ways in which these stereotypes may affect children's educational and occupational choices. Her work at the intersection of the domains of space and gender includes the study of sex-related differences in spatial skills and of the gender gap in performance on the annual National Geographic Bee.

Recent Publications

Kastens, K. A. & Liben, L. S. (2007). Eliciting self-explanations improves children’s performance on a field-based map skills task. Cognition and Instruction, 25, 45-74.

Szechter, L. E., & Liben, L. S. (2007). Children’s aesthetic understanding of photographic art and the quality of art-related parent-child interactions. Child Development, 78, 879-894.

Bigler, R. S., & Liben, L. S. (2007). Developmental intergroup theory: Explaining and reducing children's social stereotyping and prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 162-166.

Liben, L. S. (2008). Developing children’s appreciation of photographs as informative and aesthetic artifacts. In C. Milbrath & H. M. Trautner (Eds.) Children’s understanding and production of pictures, drawing, and art  (pp. 155-184). Cambridge, MA: Hogrefe & Huber.

Myers, L. J. & Liben, L. S. (2008). The role of intentionality and iconicity in children’s developing comprehension and production of cartographic symbols. Child Development, 79, 668-684.

Liben, L. S., Myers, L.J., & Kastens, K. A. (2008). Locating oneself on a map in relation to person qualities and map characteristics. In C. Freska, N. Newcombe, P. Gardenfors, & C. Hoelscher (Eds.), Spatial cognition VI: Learning, reasoning, and talking about space. (pp. 171-187). Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Quinn, P. C., & Liben, L. S. (2008). A sex difference in mental rotation in young infants. Psychological Science, 19, 1067-1070.

Kastens, K. A., Agrawal, S. & Liben, L. S. (2009). How students and field geologists reason in integrating spatial observations from outcrops to visualize a 3-D geological structure. International Journal of Science Education, 31, 365-394.

Blakemore, J. E. O., Berenbaum, S. A. & Liben, L. S. (2009). Gender development. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Lamb, L. M., Bigler, R. S., Liben, L. S., & Green, V. A. (in press). Teaching children to confront peers' sexist remarks: Implications for theories of gender development and educational practice. Sex Roles.

Liben, L. S. (in press). The road to map understanding. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Liben, L. S., & Christensen, A. E. (in press). Spatial development: Evolving approaches to enduring questions.. In U. Goswami (Ed.), Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development, Second Ed. (pp. 326-348). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

Liben, L. S., Myers, L. M., & Christensen, A. E. (in press).  Identifying locations and directions on field and representational mapping tasks: Predictors of success. Spatial Cognition and Computation.

Hilliard, L. J., & Liben, L. S. (in press). Differing levels of gender salience in preschool classrooms: Effects on children's gender attitudes and intergroup bias. Child Development.