Research and/or Creative Works

My research focuses on gender differences in children and adolescents' social development, with an emphasis on the development of aggressive behavior. Specifically, my work explores forms of aggression more relatively common among girls and boys (i.e., relational aggression), in addition to forms more typical in boys (i.e., physical aggression). Relational aggression, defined as behaviors that harm others through the manipulation of interpersonal relationships, includes malicious gossip, giving others the "silent treatment," or threatening to end a friendship. I hope that this research will inform intervention work targeting at-risk girls.

My current interests include:

  • investigating the maladaptive social (e.g., rejection by peers) and mental health (e.g., internalizing symptoms) consequences of involvement in relational and physical aggression.
  • exploring physiological (e.g., respiratory sinus arrhythmia), cognitive (e.g., moral reasoning), and social (e.g., friendship qualities; childhood maltreatment) contributors to physically and relationally aggressive conduct.
  • examining how the risk factors and outcomes of physical and relational aggression differ for boys and girls.
  • studying how aggression develops in the context of close relationships, such as friendships and enemy relationships.


The Social Development Laboratory focuses on the development of aggressive behaviors in children. We examine forms of aggression that are more common among girls (relational aggression; e.g., gossip, social exclusion) in addition to forms more typical in boys (physical aggression). Current research studies explore potential risk factors for involvement in physically and relationally aggressive behaviors.


  • Ostrov, J. M., Murray-Close, D., Perry, K. J., Blakely-McClure, S. J., Perhamus, G. R., Mutignani, L., Kesselring, S., Memba, G., & Probst, S. (in press). The development of forms and functions of aggression during early childhood: A temperament-based approach. Development & Psychopathology.
  • Lent, M. C., & Murray‐Close, D. (2022). Negative parenting and functions of relational
    aggression: The moderating roles of gender and physiological reactivity. Aggressive Behavior, 48(1), 17-29.
  • McQuade, J., D., Murray-Close, D., Breslend, N., Blada, K., Kim, M., & Marsh, N. (2019). Emotional underarousal and overarousal and engagement in relational aggression: Interactions between relational victimization, physiological reactivity, and emotional sensitivity. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47(10), 1663–1676.
  • Murray-Close, D., Holterman, L. A., Breslend, N. L., & Sullivan, A. D. (2017). Psychophysiology of proactive and reactive relational aggression. Biological Psychology, 130, 77-85.
  • Murray-Close, D., Nelson. D. A., Ostrov, J. M., Casas, J. F., & Crick. N. R. (2016). Relational aggression: A developmental psychopathology perspective. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology, 3rd Edition (Vol. 4) (pp. 660-722). New Jersey: Wiley.
  • Murray-Close, D., Crick, N. R., Tseng, W. L., Lafko, N., Burrows, C., Pitula, C., & Ralston, P. (2014). Autonomic reactivity to stress and physical and relational aggression: The moderating roles of victimization, type of task, and child gender. Development & Psychopathology, 26, 589-603.
  • Murray-Close, D. (2013). Psychophysiology of adolescent peer relations I: Theory and research findings. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 23, 236-259.

Associations and Affiliations


  • B.A. Carleton College, 2001
  • M.A. University of Minnesota, 2005
  • Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 2006


  • 802-656-4142
Office Location:

210A Dewey Hall