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Dawn Witherspoon

Dawn Witherspoon

McCourtney Family Early Career Professor in Psychology; Associate Professor, Developmental Area

217 Moore Building
Office Phone: (814) 867-3112


  1. Ph. D., New York University, 2008


Research Interests

Dawn Witherspoon is interested in how context shapes adolescent development. Her work focuses on neighborhood, school, and family factors that affect adolescents’ socioemotional and academic adjustment. In addition, she examines how race, ethnicity, and other cultural attributes interact with contextual characteristics to influence adolescent outcomes. Her current work examines adolescent development from middle to high school to understand how aspects of the  residential neighborhood, school, and family contexts are related to adolescents’ academic adjustment and beliefs as well as their deviant behaviors. A goal of her research is to elucidate the development of urban and rural adolescents, with particular attention to contextual supports.

Recent Publications

Hill, N., & Witherspoon, D. (in press). Race, Ethnicity, SES and Social Development.In M. K. Underwood and L. H. Rosen (Eds.), Handbook of Social Development.

Witherspoon, D., & Ennett, S. (in press). An examination of social disorganization and pluralistic neighborhood theories with rural mothers and their adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Hughes, D., Witherspoon, D., Rivas, D, & West-Bey, N. (2009). Received ethnic/racial socialization messages and youth’s academic and behavioral outcomes: Examining the mediating role of ethnic identity and self-esteem.  Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 15(2), 112-124.

Witherspoon, D., Schotland, M., Way, N., & Hughes, D. (2009). Connecting the Dots: How connectedness to multiple contexts influences the psychological and academic adjustment of urban youth. Applied Developmental Science, 13(4), 199-216.

Schotland, M., & Witherspoon, D. (2005). Social support systems of urban adolescents. In C. 
Fisher & R. Lerner (Eds). Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science Vol. 2 (pp. 1027-1029). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.  

Research Interests:

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