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Child and Family Science

Jessica McKenzie, Professor in Child and Family Science

Jessica McKenzie

Office: FFS 214

Phone: 559.278.1659



Education: Ph.D., Psychology, Clark University; M.A., Psychology, Clark University; B.A., Psychology (Italian minor), Miami University

Experience and Research: Jessica's research synthesizes developmental and cultural perspectives to examine how culture structures the life course, and how young people and their families psychologically negotiate cultural change brought about by globalization and immigration. Under this umbrella, she currently has three interconnected lines of research:

In one line of work, Jessica studies the perspectives (about self, morality, values, divinity) and practices (religious, linguistic, dietary, media) of Thai youth coming of age in an era of rapid globalization. This long-term fieldwork, which began prior to widespread availability of high-speed internet in rural Thai communities, contributes to the psychological science of globalization and paves the way for understanding both how culture evolves over time and the developmental implications of that evolution.

In another line of work, Jessica studies the psychological experiences of biculturalism among immigrant-origin Southeast Asian and Latino/a youth growing up in central California. This work contributes to acculturation science by speaking to how young people negotiate between and integrate multiple sets of cultural values into their conception of self - as well as barriers to psychological integration. 

Jessica also examines within-culture diversity of moral reasoning on global and local scales. In Thailand, she studies how ecological context and generational cohort shape moral values and moral reasoning. In the U.S., she has studied how age and religious beliefs jointly shape moral reasoning.

In each line of research, Jessica systematically integrates and works alongside undergraduate students. Human Development & Culture Research Lab student scholars have published empirical articles in leading cross-cultural psychology, developmental science, media studies, and religious studies journals, co-authored invited book chapters, and have presented the results of their research internationally, nationally, and locally. More information on lab activities, lab members (past and present), and lab output is available at

Students interested in getting involved in Jessica's Human Development and Culture Research Lab are invited to get in touch via email.