Biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


Unpacking constructs in the social-emotional domain to improve research and practice. Organizer: Stephanie Jones, Harvard University. Discussant: Martha Zaslow, Director of the Office for Policy and Communications of the Society for Research in Child Development. Despite increasing evidence of the critical role social-emotional development plays in children’s mental health, behavioral, and academic outcomes, there is great imprecision and variability in how social-emotional constructs are defined and measured in both research and intervention contexts (Jones, Zaslow, Darling-Churchill & Halle, 2016). The three papers in this symposium advance the methods and tools available to developmental and prevention scientists enabling them to unpack, clarify, and connect different constructs in the social-emotional domain. The first paper examines the construct of self-regulation using analytic techniques from the digital humanities, and identifies a set of conceptual clusters that highlight how similar ideas such as self-management and self-control are interrelated yet vary along key dimensions. The second paper builds upon a recently developed framework for organizing executive function (EF) and regulation-related skills, applying this framework to 40 measures used in developmental and intervention studies. The findings suggest that while researchers often use EF-related terms and measures interchangeably, there is a wide variety of developmental phenomena included in this area of research, which requires more careful alignment between measurement and the skill(s), stages, and contexts of interest. The third paper uses a systematic coding scheme to investigate how social-emotional and other “non-cognitive” constructs are operationalized in fifteen widely-used frameworks in the field, identifying points of overlap and divergence among social-emotional skills, character values, mindsets, personality traits and dispositions. The papers will be discussed in terms of their ability to generate precision and alignment in the field, in service of effective interventions and assessments.
Event titleBiennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development
Event typeConference
LocationAustin, TX, United StatesShow on map


  • social
  • emotional
  • personality
  • self-regulation
  • network analysis