The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

David S Yeager

Assistant ProfessorPh.D., Stanford University

Assistant Professor of Psychology
David S Yeager



Dr. Yeager received his PhD from Stanford University in 2011. Prior to his research career, he was a middle school teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In his substantive area of research, he studies adolescent development, with a focus on aggression, stress, and academic achievement. His approach is to conduct longitudinal, randomized field experiments at key transitions (e.g., the transition to high school or college) to investigate the role of social cognitive processes in shaping adolescents' developmental trajectories. This is because he believes that one good way to understand a developmental system is to try to change it. In addition, he draws on qualitative and correlational methodologies to examine developmental phenomena. In his current research, he is investigating the psychological causes of A) adolescents' reactions to peer exclusion or victimization, and B) changes in academic performance among racial minority adolescents at the transition to high school or college. This research has appeared or is scheduled to appear in Child Development, Developmental PsychologyJEP:General, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Educational Psychologist, Review of Educational Research, the Journal of Adolescent Research, and other outlets.

In his methodological research, he investigates the psychology of asking and answering questions, so as to optimize the accuracy of self-reports. In addition, he evaluates the accuracy of methods for sampling survey respondents (e.g., random samples and non-probability samples of Internet volunteers). His methodological research has appeared or is scheduled to appear in Public Opinion Quarterly, Developmental Psychology, and Medical Care.

Dr. Yeager will be accepting PhD students this year.  

Representative Publications (See lab site for full list of publications)

Bryan, C., Yeager, D. S., Hinojosa, C.,* Chabot, A. M.,* Bergen, H.,* Kawamura, M.* & Steubing, F. (2016). Harnessing adolescent values to reduce unhealthy snacking. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(39), 10830-10835. 

Yeager, D.S., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Yang, S., & Cohen, G.L. (in press). Declining institutional trust among racial and ethnic minority adolescents: Consequence of procedural injustice, cause of behavioral disengagement. Child Development.

Yeager, D. S., Walton, G., Brady, S., Akcinar, E. N.*, Paunesku, D., Keane, L., Kamentz, D., ... & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, E3341-E3348.
+ Yeager and Walton contributed equally to this research

Yeager, D.S., Lee, H.Y.* & Jamieson, J. (2016). How to improve adolescent stress responses: Insights from an integration of implicit theories and biopsychosocial models. Psychological Science, 27, 1078-1091.

Yeager, D.S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, C., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., Lee, H.Y., O’Brien, J., Flint, K., Roberts, A., Trott, J., Walton, G.M. & Dweck, C.S. (2016). Using design thinking to make psychological interventions ready for scaling: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 374-391. 

Miu, A. & Yeager, D.S. (2015). Preventing symptoms of depression by teaching adolescents that people can change:  Effects of a brief incremental theory of personality intervention at 9-month follow-up.  Clinical Psychological Science, 3, 726-743. 

Duckworth, A.L., & Yeager, D.S. (2015). Measurement matters: Assessing personal qualities other than cognitive ability. Educational Researcher, 44, 237-251.

Yeager, D.S., Henderson, M., Paunesku, D., Walton, G., Spitzer, B., D’Mello, S., & Duckworth, A.L. (2014). Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107, 559-580.

Yeager, D.S., Johnson, R., Spitzer, B., Trzesniewski, K., Powers, J., & Dweck, C.S. (2014). The far-reaching effects of believing people can change: Implicit theories of personality shape stress, health, and achievement during adolescence.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 867-884

Yeager, D.S., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Pebley, P., Master, A., Hessert, W., Williams, M. & Cohen, G.L. (2014). Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General143, 804-824.

Yeager, D.S., Miu, A.*, Powers, J., & Dweck, C.S. (2013). Implicit theories of personality and attributions of hostile intent: A meta-analysis, an experiment, and a longitudinal intervention. Child Development, 84, 1651-1667.

Yeager, D.S., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C.S. (2013).  An implicit theories of personality intervention reduces adolescent aggression in response to victimization and exclusion. Child Development, 84, 970-988.

Yeager, D.S. & Dweck, C.S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: When students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47, 1-13.

Yeager, D.S., Bundick, M.J. & Johnson, B. (2012). The role of future work goal motives in adolescent identity development: A longitudinal mixed-methods investigation. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37, 206-217.

Yeager, D.S. & Krosnick, J. (2011).  Does mentioning “some people” and “other people” in a survey question increase the accuracy of adolescents’ self-reports? Developmental Psychology, 47, 1674-1679.

Yeager, D.S., Trzesniewski, K., Tirri, K., Nokelainen, P., & Dweck, C.S. (2011). Adolescents’ implicit theories predict desire for vengeance: Correlational and experimental evidence. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1090-1107.

Yeager, D.S. & Walton, G. (2011). Social-psychological interventions in education: They’re not magic. Review of Educational Research, 81, 267-301.

Yeager, D.S., Krosnick, J., Chang, L-C., Javitz, H., Levendusky, M., Simpser, A. & Wang, R. (2011). Comparing the accuracy of RDD telephone surveys and Internet surveys conducted with probability and non-probability samples. Public Opinion Quarterly, 75, 709-747.


PSY 394S • Adv Dev Sci Of Adolescence

43383 • Fall 2016
Meets M 3:30PM-6:30PM SEA 1.332

Seminars in Developmental Psychology. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.


PSY 394S • Fundmntls Of Devel Psychology

42515 • Fall 2015
Meets TH 4:00PM-7:00PM SEA 1.332

Seminars in Developmental Psychology. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.


PSY 394S • Workshop Psychol Interventions

44295 • Spring 2014
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM SEA 1.332

Seminars in Developmental Psychology. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Graduate standing and consent of instructor.


PSY 333D • Intro To Developmental Psych

43355 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM FAC 21

Physical, social, and cognitive development in humans. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Psychology 304 and 333D may not both be counted. Psychology 333D and Women's and Gender Studies 345 (Topic 6: Introduction to Developmental Psychology) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: For psychology majors, upper-division standing and Psychology 301 and 418 with a grade of at least C in each; for nonmajors, upper-division standing, Psychology 301 with a grade of at least C, and one of the following with a grade of at least C: Biology 318M, Civil Engineering 311S, Economics 329, Educational Psychology 371, Electrical Engineering 351K, Government 350K, Mathematics 316, 362K, Mechanical Engineering 335, Psychology 317, Sociology 317L, Social Work 318, Statistics 309, Statistics and Scientific Computation 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 318.

PSY 333D • Intro To Developmental Psych

43215 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WEL 1.316

This course is designed to introduce students to thinking like a developmental psychologist. Why do this? Because thinking like a developmental psychologist helps you to (1) understand human nature and (2) solve social problems. By understanding the patterns and systems of influences that shape us from infancy to adulthood, you gain a novel perspective on what it means to be a human. You can also apply these insights to create wise and developmentally appropriate interventions, both in everyday life and in the policies you endorse as a citizen.

Thinking like a developmental psychologist involves: (a) asking big questions about human development; (b) designing and carrying out studies that turn those questions into testable hypotheses; and (c) explaining to others what the specific test they conducted says about the big question they asked. Therefore this introductory course has three objectives:

1. Learn what central questions have been addressed in the field of developmental psychology and what their theoretical, philosophical, and practical implications are.

• They are: (a) nativism vs. empiricism; (b) active vs. passive development; (c) continuous vs. discontinuous development; and (d) stability vs. plasticity.

  1. Learn about the design and results from prominent studies that have addressed these central questions.

  2. Learn how to interpret the data from developmental psychological studies and clearly explain how they address these central questions.

In the service of these objectives, the course will involve lectures, four writing assignments (~1 page each), three in-class exams, and a final paper (1500 words or less). TA sessions will also be scheduled on Fridays to review for exams, prepare for writing assignments, etc.

The course content will cover the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth of infants, children, and adolescents, and the various factors (e.g., genetics, parenting, peer groups, schooling, and the media) that influence development. Prominent theories of child development and research methods used in developmental psychology will be reviewed. Specific topics that will be covered include: aggression, attachment, gender roles, language development, moral development, cognitive development, culture, and school achievement. The implications of course content for child-rearing, education, and social policy will also be discussed.

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