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Lynn Liben

Lynn Liben

Distinguished Professor of Psychology

McCourtney Professor of Child Studies

509 Moore Building
Office Phone: (814) 863-1718


  1. Ph. D., University of Michigan, 1972


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

Liben, L. S., Myers, L. J., Christensen, A. E., & Bower, C. A. (2013). Environmental-scale map use in middle childhood: Links to spatial skills, strategies, and gender. Child Development, 84, 2047-2063.

Hilliard, L. J. & Liben, L. S. (2014). Fairness in the face of gender stereotypes: Examining the nature and impact of mother-child conversations. In C. Wainryb & H. E. Recchia (Eds.). Talking about right and wrong: Parent-child conversations as contexts for moral development  (pp.168-192). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Liben, L. S. (2014). Perceiving and representing horizontals: From laboratories to natural environments and back again. Ecological Psychology, 26, 158-166.

Bigler, R. S., Hayes, A. R., & Liben, L. S. (2014). Analysis and evaluation of the rationales for single-sex schooling. In L. S. Liben & R. S. Bigler (Vol. Eds.) The role of gender in educational contexts and outcomes. Volume 47 of Advances in child development and behavior. Series Editor: J. B. Benson (pp. 225-260). San Diego: Elsevier.

Quinn, P. C. & Liben, L. S. (2014).  A sex difference in mental rotation in infants: Convergent evidence. Infancy, 19, 103-116.

Liben, L. S., & Downs, R. M. (2015). Map use skills. In M. Monmonier (Ed.), Cartography in the twentieth century (pp. 1074-1080). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Liben, L. S. (2015). The STEM gender gap: The case for spatial interventions. International Journal of Gender, Science, and Technology, 7, 133-150.

Liben, L. S. & Müller, U. (Eds.) (2015). Cognitive processes. Volume 2 of the Handbook of child psychology and developmental science (7th ed.). Editor-in-chief: R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Plummer, J. D., Bower, C. A., & Liben, L. S. (2016). The role of perspective taking in how children connect reference frames when explaining astronomical phenomena. International Journal of Science Education, 38(3), 345-365. doi: 10.1080/09500693.2016.114092

Liben, L. S. (2016). We've come a long way baby (But we're not there yet): Gender past, present, and future. Child Development, 87, 5–28. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12490

Coyle, E. F., & Liben, L. S. (2016). Affecting girls’ job and activity interests through play: The moderating roles of personal gender salience and game characteristics. Child Development, 87, 414-428. doi:10.1111/cdev.12463

Liben, L. S. (in press). Gender development: A constructivist-ecological perspective. In N. Budwig, E. Turiel, & P. Zelazo, (Eds.). New perspectives on human development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Liben, L. S. & Coyle, E. F. (in press). Gender development: A relational approach. In A. S. Dick & U. Müller (Eds.), Advancing developmental science: Philosophy, theory, and method. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Research Interests:

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