Dr. Marion Underwood
Professor and associate dean for Programs and Administration
Ashbel Smith Professor
Underwood’s research focuses on how children develop peer relationships. Her work investigates the developmental origins of socially aggressive behavior and the associated outcomes for victims as well as aggressors.
Her longitudinal study of children’s relationships and social development follows the same group of students from third grade through high school. As the students in her study grew up, it became clear that electronic communication had become an enormous part of their social lives. Underwood adapted her study to capture this important aspect of the students’ social development.
In the eighth grade, these students were given BlackBerry phones, enabling the research team to analyze electronic communication and learn more about evolving relationships among young people.
The overall aim of this research program is to clarify developmental precursors of adolescent psychopathology for both girls and boys, with the long-term goal of developing prevention efforts not only for social and physical aggression, but also for internalizing problems, personality disorders and eating disorders.
In 2001, Underwood was awarded the Chancellor’s Council Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. She has authored many journal articles and two books: Social Aggression Among Girls and Social Development: Relationships in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence (with Lisa Rosen).
Underwood was awarded fellow status by the Association for Psychological Science, an honor given to prominent psychologists who have made sustained, outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in such areas as research, teaching, service and application.
She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Duke University. Underwood joined UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1998.
The University of Texas System supports the professorship.
Underwood’s research on anger and aggression has been funded since 1995. In 2009, she received a $3.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue her longitudinal study examining developmental origins and outcomes of social and physical aggression. This phase of the study includes a component that is the first-ever investigation of the content of teens’ text messages and email.
“My career has always been focused on teaching, in the lab and in the classroom. My research requires following many families over time to assess origins and outcomes of anger and aggression. I work with outstanding UT Dallas students to teach them about research design, but maybe even more importantly, I teach them how to balance collecting the highest quality data possible while making great relationships with families and community partners who support our work.”