University of Rochester

Prof. Judith Smetana Named to Frederica Warner Chair

September 29, 1995

Judith Smetana, a developmental psychologist who has won international respect for her work on how children and adolescents construct their moral universe and on adolescent- parent relations, has been named to the Frederica Warner Chair in Education at the University of Rochester's Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

The Frederica Warner Chair was established in 1988 with a gift from William F. and Margaret Warner Scandling. The chair was named for the late Mrs. Scandling's aunt, a high school English teacher. Frederica Warner graduated from the University with the Class of 1909 and taught for 36 years in New York City public schools. The chair was established as a way for the University to strengthen education in public schools.

"At the Warner School, we create new knowledge by integrating theory, research, and practice," said Dean Philip Wexler. "Professor Smetana is an exemplary role model of the accomplished researcher, and it is therefore quite fitting that she hold this chair."

Smetana, who has been a member of the Rochester faculty since 1979, has published widely on topics that bear on how children form ideas about right and wrong and make moral choices. In the 1970s and 80s, she published widely on women's decision- making about abortion. Since the mid-1980s, she has written a substantial body of work on how preschoolers come to understand right and wrong, and how they distinguish between moral imperatives [stealing is wrong] and cultural conventions [boys don't wear dresses].

For the past 10 years, she has explored conflicts between adolescents and their parents, and how adolescents develop a sense of autonomy. She has studied not only American teens' turf battles with parents, but also those of teen-agers in Hong Kong.

Earlier this year, Smetana received $192,193 from the William T. Grant Foundation to study adolescent-parent relationships in middle-income African-American families and their effects on adolescent development.

She is the author of Concepts of Self and Morality, editor of Beliefs about Parenting: Origins and Developmental Implications, and author of numerous journal articles.

Smetana earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's and doctorate from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She holds memberships in the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research in Adolescence, and the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development.

She received an early career award from the Foundation for Child Development and she serves on the editorial boards of several journals in the field of child and adolescent development.