Kristin H. Lagattuta

Kristin H. Lagattuta Portrait

Position Title
Professor and Chair

109 Young Hall


  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Michigan, 1999
  • B.A., Psychology, Stanford University, 1993


In addition to her academic appointment in the Department of Psychology, Kristin H. Lagattuta is a core faculty member at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis. She is the editor of the 2014 book, Children and emotion: New insights into developmental affective science. She was an Associate Editor at Developmental Psychology and currently serves on the editorial boards of Affective Science, Child Development, Emotion, and Merrill-Palmer Quarterly. She chaired the Davis Division of the Academic Senate 2018-2020 and served as the Faculty Advisor to the Provost on Closing Student Opportunity Gaps 2020-2022. She is currently the Chair of the Psychology Department.

Research Focus

My empirical research integrates foundations of cognitive, social, and emotional knowledge by investigating children’s and adults’ understanding about connections between different kinds of mental states (e.g., how thoughts influence emotions; how emotions shape decisions), as well as their reasoning about how people’s negative and positive life experiences bias how they later interpret and emotionally react to new situations, make decisions, and anticipate the future. Additional research investigates how children and adults attend to and process emotional stimuli, development and individual differences in cognitive processes, biases and heuristics in how children and adults perceive social groups, prosocial decision making and intergroup biases, reasoning about willpower and transgression, and recognition of diversity versus common ground in how different people interpret and emotionally respond to situations.


Mind-Emotion Development Lab (Lagattuta)


Recent Selected Publications

  • Kramer, H. J., Parra, L. A., Lara, K. H., Hastings, P. D., & Lagattuta, K. H. (2022). Consistency among social groups in judging emotions across time. Emotion, 22, 880-893.
  • Kramer, H. J., & Lagattuta, K. H. (2022). Developmental changes in emotion understanding during middle childhood. In D. D. Dukes, E. Walle, & A. C. Samson, (Eds.), Oxford handbook on emotional development. Oxford University Press.
  • Lagattuta, K. H., & Kramer, H. J. (2022). Theory of mind and moral cognition: Developmental changes in integrating mental states and moral judgments. In M. Killen & J. Smetana (Eds.), Handbook of moral development (3rd edition). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  • Ma, F., An, R., Wu, D., Luo, X., Xu, F., & Lagattuta, K. H. (2022). Guilt promotes honesty in preschoolers. Developmental Psychology, 58, 693-699.
  • Kramer, H. J., Goldfarb, D., Tashjian, S., & Lagattuta, K. H. (2021). Dichotomous thinking about social groups: Learning about one group can activate opposite beliefs about another group. Cognitive Psychology, 129, 101408.
  • Lagattuta, K. H., & Kramer, H. J. (2021). Advanced theory of mind in middle childhood and adulthood: Inferring mental states and emotions from life history. In S. Lecce & R.T. Devine (Eds.), Theory of mind in middle childhood and adolescence: Integrating multiple perspectives (pp. 15-36). New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis.
  • Lara, K. H., Kramer, H. J., & Lagattuta, K. H. (2021). This is not what I expected: The impact of prior expectations on children‚Äôs and adults‚Äô preferences and emotions. Developmental Psychology, 57, 702-717.
  • Bamford, C. & Lagattuta, K. H. (2020). Optimism and wishful thinking: Consistency across populations in children‚Äôs expectations for the future. Child Development, 91, 1116-1134.
  • Lara, K. H., Lagattuta, K. H., Kramer, H. J. (2019). Is there a downside to anticipating the upside? Children‚Äôs and adults‚Äô reasoning about how prior expectations shape emotions. Child Development, 90, 1170-1184.
  • Goldfarb, D., Lagattuta, K. H., Kramer, H. J., Kennedy, K., & Tashjian, S. (2017): When your kind cannot live here: How generic language and criminal sanctions shape social categorization, Psychological Science, 28, 1597-1609.
  • Lagattuta, K. H., & Kramer, H. J. (2017). Try to look on the bright side: Children and adults can (sometimes) override their tendency to prioritize negative faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146, 89-101.


Professor Lagattuta has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Cognitive Development, Developmental Psychology, Development of Emotion Understanding, Development of Psychological Understanding, and Topics in Developmental Psychology. She also mentors undergraduate and Ph.D. students in experimental research.


Professor Lagattuta has won a number of awards throughout her career. In 2015, she received the UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching. Dr. Lagattuta was also honored with the UC Davis Social Sciences Dean's Award for Scientific Innovation in 2013 and the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association Excellence in Teaching Award in 2010. She has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Amini Foundation.