Professional Biography

Dr. Chen is a professor at Penn GSE. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA, Div. 7), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He has received a Scholars Award from the William T. Grant Foundation, an Eastern Scholars Award from Shanghai Institutions of Higher Learning, China, and several other awards for his scientific work. He is currently the president of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD).

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Chen’s research focuses on children and adolescents’ socioemotional functioning and its role in social, school, and psychological adjustment from a contextual-developmental perspective. He is interested in the developmental processes of social competence, shyness-inhibition, and aggression, and dispositional/biological and socialization factors that are involved in the processes. He has conducted, in collaboration with his international colleagues, a series of longitudinal projects in Chinese, North American, and several other societies. The projects are based largely on a theoretical framework he has developed concerning how cultural values are involved in two fundamental systems of socioemotional functioning, social initiative, and self-control, during development. The projects have tapped (1) the joint and interactive contributions of early temperamental characteristics and parenting practices to human development in changing social, economic, and cultural contexts, and (2) the role of social interactions and relationships in mediating and moderating contextual influences on development. In addition, his team has conducted several studies of adjustment experiences, including the difficulties and strengths, of different generations of Asian children and adolescents in North America.


Ph.D. (Psychology) University of Waterloo, 1992.

M.A. (Psychology) University of Waterloo, 1990.

M.A. (Psychology) Shanghai Normal University, 1986.

B.A. (Psychology) East China Normal University, 1983.

Areas of Expertise

Children’s socioemotional development

Peer relationships

Parenting and family influences

Cross-cultural developmental psychology

Cultural and biological factors in development

Selected Publications

Chen, X.: Culture, temperament, and social and psychological adjustment. Developmental Review, 2018.

Chen, X., Fu, R., Liu, J., Wang, L., Zarbatany, L., & Ellis, W.: Social sensitivity and social, school, and psychological adjustment among children across contexts. Developmental Psychology, 2018. doi:10.1037/dev0000496

Chen, X., Li, D., Liu, J., Chen, H., & Zhao, S.: Judgments of damage to public versus private property in Chinese children at different historical times. Developmental Science 21(1), 2018. doi:10.1111/desc.12506

Chen, X., Lee, J., & Chen, L.: Culture and peer relationships. In W. M. Bukowski, B. Laursen, & K. H. Rubin (Eds.), Handbook of peer interactions, relationships, and groups (pp. 552-570).  Guilford. 2018.

Ellis, W., Zarbatany, L., Chen, X., Kinal, M., & Boyko, L.: Peer groups as a context for school misconduct: The moderating role of group interactional style. Child Development 89: 248–263, 2018.

Zhao, S., & Chen, X.: Maternal involvement in children's leisure activities in rural China: Relations with adjustment outcomes. Journal of Family Psychology 32: 71-80, 2018.

Chen, X.: Socioemotional development across cultures. In M. D. Sera, M. Maratsos, & S. M. Carlson (Eds.), Minnesota symposium on child psychology, Vol. 38, Culture and developmental systems (pp. 275-298). Wiley. 2017. 

Chen, X., & Liu, C.: Culture, peer relationships, and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti (Ed.), Developmental psychopathology (pp. 723-769). Wiley. 2016.

Chen, X., Liu, J., Ellis, W., & Zarbatany, L.: Social sensitivity and adjustment in Chinese and Canadian children.  Child Development, 87: 1115–1129, 2016. 

Zhao, S., Chen, X., Zarbatany, L., & Ellis, W.: Affiliation with socially withdrawn groups and children's social and psychological adjustment.  Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 44: 1279–1290, 2016.

Chen, X., Chen, H., Li, D., Wang, L., & Wang, Z.: Early childhood reticent and solitary-passive behaviors and adjustment outcomes in Chinese children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43: 1467–1473, 2015. 

Chen, X.: Exploring the implications of social change for human development: Perspectives, issues, and future directions. International Journal of Psychology 50: 56–59, 2015.

Chen, X., & Schmidt, L.: Temperament and personality. In M. E. Lamb (Vol. Ed.) & R. M. Lerner (Series Ed.), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science, Vol. 3, Socioemotional processes (7th edition) (pp. 152-200). Wiley. 2015. 

Yang, F., Chen, X., & Wang, L.: Shyness-sensitivity and social, school, and psychological adjustment in urban Chinese children: A four-wave longitudinal study. Child Development 86: 1848-1864, 2015. 

Chen, X., Wang, L., Li, D., & Liu, J.: Loneliness in Chinese children across contexts. Developmental Psychology 50: 2324-2333, 2014.

Chen, X., Zhang, G., Liang, Z., Zhang, M., Way, N. Yoshikawa, H. et al.: The association between 5-HTTLPR gene polymorphism and behavioral inhibition in Chinese toddlers. Developmental Psychobiology 56: 1601-1608, 2014.

Chen, X., Yang, F., & Wang, L.: Relations between shyness-sensitivity and internalizing problems in Chinese children: Moderating effects of academic achievement. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 41: 825-836, 2013. 

Chen, X.: Culture, peer interaction, and socioemotional development. Child Development Perspectives 6: 27-34, 2012.

Chen, X., Huang, X., Wang, L., & Chang, L.: Aggression, peer relationships, and depression in Chinese children: A multi-wave longitudinal study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 53: 1233-1241, 2012.

Chen, X., & Li, D.: Parental encouragement of initiative-taking and adjustment in Chinese children from rural, urban, and urbanized families. Journal of Family Psychology 26: 927-936, 2012.

Chen, X., Zhang, G., Chen, H., & Li, D.: Performance on delay tasks in early childhood predicted socioemotional and school adjustment 9 years later: A longitudinal study in Chinese children.  International Perspectives in Psychology 1: 3-14, 2012.

Chen, X., Wang, L., & Cao, R.: Shyness-sensitivity and unsociability in rural Chinese children: Relations with social, school, and psychological adjustment. Child Development 82: 1531-1543, 2011.

French, D. C., Chen, X., Chung, J., Li, M., Chen, H., & Li, D.: Four children and one toy: Social interactions of Chinese and Canadian children with a limited resource. Child Development 82: 830-841, 2011. 

Chen, X., & Rubin, K. H. (Eds.): Socioemotional development in cultural context. Guilford, 2011.

Chen, X.: Socioemotional development in Chinese children. In M. H. Bond (Ed.), Handbook of Chinese psychology (pp. 37-52). Oxford University Press. 2010. 

Silbereisen, R., & Chen, X. (Eds.): Social change and human development: Concepts and results. Sage, 2010. 

Chen, X., Chen, H., Li, D., & Wang, L.: Early childhood behavioral inhibition and social and school adjustment in Chinese children: A five-year longitudinal study. Child Development 80: 1692-1704, 2009.

Chen, X., Wang, L., & Wang, Z.: Shyness-sensitivity and social, school, and psychological adjustment in rural migrant and urban children in China. Child Development 80: 1499-1513, 2009.

Chen, X., Chang, L., Liu, H., & He, Y.: Effects of the peer group on the development of social functioning and academic achievement: A longitudinal study in Chinese children. Child Development 79: 235-251, 2008.

Chen, X. & French, D.: Children’s social competence in cultural context. Annual Review of Psychology 59: 591-616, 2008. 

Chen, X. & Tse, H. C.: Social functioning and adjustment in Canadian-born children with Chinese and European backgrounds. Developmental Psychology 44: 1184-1189, 2008.

Chen, X., DeSouza, A., Chen, H., & Wang, L.: Reticent behavior and experiences in peer interactions in Canadian and Chinese children. Developmental Psychology 42: 656-665, 2006.

Chen, X., French, D., & Schneider, B. (Eds.): Peer relationships in cultural context. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Chen, X., Cen, G., Li, D., & He, Y.: Social functioning and adjustment in Chinese children: The imprint of historical time. Child Development 76: 182-195, 2005.

Liu, M., Chen, X., Rubin, K. H., Zheng, S., Cui, L., Li, D., Chen, H., & Wang, L.: Autonomy- vs. connectedness-oriented parenting behaviors in Chinese and Canadian mothers. International Journal of Behavioral Development 29: 489-495, 2005. 

Chen, X., He, Y., De Oliveira, A. M., Lo Coco, A, Zappulla, C., Kaspar, V., Schneider, B., Valdivia, I. A., Tse, C. H., & DeSouza, A.: Loneliness and social adaptation in Brazilian, Canadian, Chinese and Italian children. Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines 45: 1373-1384, 2004.

Chen, X., Rubin, K. H., Liu, M., Chen, H., Wang, L., & Li, D., Gao, X., Cen, G., Gu, H., & Li, B.: Compliance in Chinese and Canadian toddlers. International Journal of Behavioral Development 27: 428-436, 2003. 

Chen, X., Hastings, P., Rubin, K. H., Chen, H., Cen, G., & Stewart, S. L.: Childrearing attitudes and behavioral inhibition in Chinese and Canadian toddlers: A cross-cultural study. Developmental Psychology 34: 677-686, 1998.