Ph.D., Simon Fraser University (Psychology), 1984. Supervisor: Dr. Janet Strayer.
M.A., Simon Fraser University (Psychology), 1974. Supervisor: Dr. Christopher Davis
B.A., Reed College (Philosophy), 1969. Supervisor: Dr. Robert Peck.
Faculty, Department of Psychology, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, B.C., 1990 - 2014.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, 1987-1990.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, N.S., 1985-1987.
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 1984-1985.
Sessional Instructor, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 1983-1985.
Research Consultant, Lions Gate Hospital, North Vancouver, B.C., 1982-1986.
Roberts, W., Strayer, J. & Denham, S. (In press.) Empathy, anger, guilt: Emotions and prosocial behaviour. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. DOI: 10.1037/a0035057
Ramirez, G., Walton, P., & Roberts, W. (2014). Morphological awareness, vocabulary, and reading among kindergarteners with different ability levels. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 47, 54-64.
Maggi, S., Ostry, A., Roberts, W., D'Angiulli, A., & Hertzman C. (2013). Paternal work stress and the mental health of fathers and children: A role for urban and rural migration patterns. Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. 32, 59-78. doi: 10.7870/cjcmh-2013-006
Bezo, B., Maggi, S., & Roberts, W. (2012). The rights and freedoms gradient of health: evidence from a cross-national study. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00441
Maggi, S., Roberts, W., MacLennan, D., & D'Angiulli, A. (2011). Community resilience, quality childcare, and preschoolers' mental health: A three-city comparison. Social Science and Medicine, 73(7), 1080-1087. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.052
Robinson, R., Roberts, W., Strayer, J. & Koopman, R. (2007). Empathy and Emotional Responsiveness in Delinquent and Non-Delinquent Adolescents. Social Development, 16, 555-579.
Strayer, J. & Roberts, W. (2004). Children's Anger, Emotional Expressiveness, and Empathy: Relations with Parents' Empathy, Emotional Expressiveness, and Parenting Practices. Social Development, 13, 229-254.
Strayer, J. & Roberts, W. (2004). Empathy and Observed Anger and Aggression in Five-year Olds. Social Development, 13, 1-13.
Coulombe, D., & Roberts, W. (2001). The French-as-a-second-language Learning Experience of Anglophone and Allophone University Students. The Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2, 561-579.
Roberts, W. (1999). The Socialization of Emotion Expression: Relations with Prosocial Behavior and Competence in Five Samples. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 31, 72-85.
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1998). Observations of Aggressive and Nonaggressive Children on the School Playground. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 44, 55-76.
Strayer, J., & Roberts, W. (1997). Facial and Verbal Measures of Children's Emotions and Empathy . International Journal of Behavioral Development, 20, 627-649.
Strayer, J., & Roberts, W. (1997). Children's Personal Distance and Their Empathy: Indices of Interpersonal Closeness. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 20, 385-403.
Roberts, W., & Strayer, J. (1996). Empathy, Emotional Expressiveness, and Prosocial Behavior. Child Development, 67, 449-470.
Goldthwaite, D., & Roberts, W. (1993). Pragmatic structure in appointment-making conversations. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 22, 579-591.
Roberts, W. (1989). Affiliation Structures in Groups of Young Children: A Computer Simulation . Developmental Psychology, 25, 805-811.
Strayer, J., & Roberts, W. (1989). Children's empathy and role taking: Child and parental factors, and relations to prosocial behavior . Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 10, 227-239.
Roberts, W. (1989). Parents' stressful life events and social networks: Relations with parenting and children's competence. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 21, 132-146.
Morrison, G., Chase, W., Young, V., & Roberts, W.,(1988). Back pain: Treatment and prevention in a community hospital. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 69, 605-609.
Roberts, W. (1987). Two-career families: Demographic variables, parenting, and competence in young children. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 19, 347-356.
Roberts, W., & Strayer, J. (1987). Parents' responses to the emotional distress of their children: Relations with children's competence . Developmental Psychology, 23, 415-422.
Roberts, W. (1986). Nonlinear models of development: an example from the socialization of competence. Child Development, 57, 1166-1178.
Roberts, W., & Davis, C. (1978). The consistent acceleration of lifted objects: Implications for kinesthetic illusions and the perception of weight. Journal of Motor Behavior, 10, 287-293.
Davis, C., & Roberts, W. (1976). Lifting movements in the size-weight illusion. Perception and Psychophysics, 20, 33-36.
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1996, August). Children's Behaviour Across Contexts: Observations of Aggressive and Nonaggressive Children on the Playground and in Class. Presented at meetings of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, Quebec City, P.Q.
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1994, June). Sequential analyses of aggressive and nonaggressive children's playground interactions. Presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, London, England.
Roberts, W. (1994, June). The socialization of emotional expression: Relations with competence in preschool. Presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Penticton, B.C.
Strayer, J., and Roberts, W. (1994, June). Empathy, expressiveness, and prosocial behavior. Presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Penticton, B.C.
Craig, W., Pepler, D. & Roberts, W. (1993, July). Peer reputations and peer interactions of aggressive and non-aggressive children. Presented at the Biennial Meetings of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development, Recife, Brazil.
Strayer, J., & Roberts, W. (1993, March). Facial and verbal measures of emotion: convergence and empathy. Paper presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans.
Roberts, W. (1993, March). Programs for the collection and analysis of observational data. Paper presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, New Orleans.
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1992, May). Naturalistic observations of bullies and victims on the school-yard. Paper presented at the University of Waterloo Conference on Child Development, Waterloo, Ontario.
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1992, April). Aggression on the playground: Peer relations of aggressive and non-aggressive children. Paper presented at meetings of the Society for Life History Research, Philadelphia.
Roberts, W. & Schill, L. (1991, April). Programs for the field collection of observational data. Presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.
Roberts, W. (1991, April). Marital and parent-child interactions in families with preschool children. Presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.
Kelner, L. & Roberts, W. (1990, June). Environmental effects on preschoolers' social play. Presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Ottawa.
Roberts, W. (1987, June). Parents' warmth and children's competence: Nonlinear relations in a longitudinal study. Presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Vancouver.
Roberts, W. (1987, April). Computer models of social interactions: The development of popularity and social isolation in preschool-age children. Presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore.
Roberts, W. (1986, June). Parental stress and social support: relations with parenting and children's competence. Paper presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto.
Roberts, W. (1985, June). Demographic variables, parenting, and competence in young children: What do proxy variables stand for? Paper presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, N.S.
Roberts, W. (1984, August). Sex differences in the socialization of competence in preschoolers. Paper presented at meetings of the American Psychological Association, Toronto.
Young, V., & Roberts, W. (1984). Programme evaluation in a community hospital: medical ambulatory care at Lions Gate Hospital. Paper presented at meetings of the First Annual Pacific Health Forum. Vancouver, BC.
Strayer, J., & Roberts, W. (1983, June). Differentiation of young children's self concepts and their relation to parent and teacher percepts. Paper presented at meetings of the Canadian Psychological Association, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Roberts, W. (1983, April). Family interactions and child competence in a preschool setting. Part I: Overview. Paper presented at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Detroit, Michigan.
Roberts, W. (1983, April). Family interactions and child competence in a preschool setting. Part II: Statistical relationships. Paper presented at meetings of the Western Psychological Association, San Francisco, California.
Roberts, W. (2014, May). Political dimensions of knowledge mobilization. In Donna Kotsopoulos (Panel Chair), Knowledge mobilization in developmental psychology: Lost in translation or limited intent? Panel discussion conducted at the Development 2014 Conference, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario.
Roberts, W., & Strayer, J. (2003, April). Towards, Away, and Against: Emotions and Prosocial Behavior. In Katja Kokko & Sylvana Côté (Chairs), Prosocial and aggressive behaviors over the life course. Symposium conducted at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Tampa, Florida.
Roberts, W. (1998, October). Empathy in childhood: Its nature, socialization, and relations with prosocial behavior. In R.K. Hanson (Chair), Understanding the relationship between empathy and sexual offending. Symposium conducted at meetings of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, Vancouver, BC.
Roberts, W. (1991, April). Computer models and theory building. In G. Holden (Chair), Innovative uses of microcomputers in social development research. Symposium conducted at meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development, Seattle, WA.
Roberts, W. (1988, May). Attitudes about preschool children's emotional distress: Relations to other parental beliefs. In L. Rose-Krasnor (Chair), Socialization practices and beliefs. Symposium conducted at the University of Waterloo Conference, Waterloo, Ontario.
Invited Book Chapters
Pepler, D., Craig, W., & Roberts, W. (1995). Social skills training and aggression in the peer group. In J. McCord (Ed.), Coercion and Punishment in Long-term Perspectives (pp. 213-228). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Young, V., & Roberts, W. (1984). Programme evaluation in a community hospital: medical ambulatory care at Lions Gate Hospital. In K. Mitchell (Ed.) Proceedings of the First Annual Pacific Health Forum. Vancouver: Department of Health Care and Epidemiology, University of British Columbia.
Invited Textbook Contributions
Berk, L., & Roberts, W. (2009). Child Development, Third Canadian Edition. Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada.
Roberts, W. (2011). A brief guide to the characters in L M Montgomery's A Tangled Web. Available on the web.
Walton, P., Roberts, W., & Wiltse, L. (2003). Language Skills in Kindergarten and Reading Ability at the End of Grade 1: A Longitudinal Study. Available on the web.
Roberts, W. (1993). Programs for the collection and analysis of observational data. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. TM 020 831. Reviewed in Measurement Update 4(1), February 1994, p. 17.
Roberts, W. (1991). Programs for the field collection of observational data. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. TM 017 037.
Roberts, W. (1986). Parental stress and social networks: relations with parenting and children's competence. Burnaby, BC: Simon Fraser University, Department of Psychology. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 271 228.
Roberts, W. (1984). Sex differences in the socialization of competence in preschoolers. Burnaby, BC: Simon Fraser University, Department of Psychology. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 253 311.
These are a few of the measures used in my publications. The Child Rearing Practices and Preschool Q-sort documents contain directions for sorting, as well as the Q-sort items. The Child Rating Questionnaire document contains details of the scales used in Roberts & Strayer (1996). If you have questions about these instruments or would like copies of other instruments I have used, please contact me by e-mail
Measures of parenting
Block, Jeanne (1965). The Child-rearing Practices Report (CRPR): A Set of Q items for the Description of Parental Socialization Attitudes and Values This is Jeanne Block's original report, with details of validity and reliability.
Child Rearing Practices Q-sort (91 items from Block, 1965, plus 8 items from Roberts, 1999)
Observer Rating Scales for Assessing Parents' Responses to Children's Emotional Distress from Baumrind (1970a, 1970b, 1972) and Roberts & Strayer (1987).
Measures of behavior
California Q-sorts (Block and Block)
Child Rating Questionnaire (Strayer, 1985), with scales for prosocial behaviors, anger, and empathy.
Preschool Behavior Q-sort (Baumrind, 1968)
Primary School Behavior Q-sort (Baumrind, 1972)
Measures of empathy
The Empathy Continuum Scoring Manual (Strayer & von Rossberg-Gempton, 1992). We regret that the videotapes described in the scoring manual are not available because of copyright restrictions. We would encourage researchers interested in this measure to apply the principles in the scoring manual to short film or videotape episodes specially selected for their own samples -- stories close to their experiences and able to engage them emotionally.
An Index of Empathy for Children and Adolescents, Bryant (1982).
Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI), Davis (1980).
My research interests center on socialization in the family and peer group and its consequences for the development of children's peer relationships and purposive, resourceful behavior. These aspects of development (affiliation and competence) are thought to be fundamental aspects of human behavior.
My focus on the family is threefold: parent-child interactions, with special attention to the socialization of emotions in the context of basic dimensions of parenting (responsiveness and warmth, control and the encouragement of autonomy); the relationship of parents with one another, as spouses; and the contexts and causes of parenting (for example, parents' social networks and past experiences).
As a central part of this process, I am interested in the development and analysis of causal models, including the computer modeling of interactions in families and peer groups. I believe that such models are important tools for understanding social relationships and their impact on the development of fundamental aspects of children's behavior.
Most recently, I was co-investigator (with Dr. Janet Strayer of Simon Fraser University) of a three-year, $80,000 Strategic Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada examining children's anger, guilt, shame, and empathy in the context of family socialization, and the associations between these emotions and children's resourceful, flexible behavior and their prosocial (vs. antisocial) behaviours.
You may find the following links useful in finding out more about psychology as a profession and a science.
(Please let me know if any links are broken.)
I wrote the programs described below in order to record and analyze children's interactions in natural settings (homes and schools). Because I developed this software under a Strategic Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, I have placed it in the public domain. To download the software from my SourceForge site, click here. A 90-page manual is included, as a pdf document. (If you need a .pdf reader, you can download one for free from Adobe.) The source code is also available. Although it is a text file, you will need the True Basic Gold Edition to run the source code. (See the True Basic web site for further information.)
These programs were designed for Windows (Windows 98 through Windows 7). They also run under Linux, using WINE (I have tested them on Ubuntu and Mandriva), and they should run on MacIntosh platforms using Crossover.
The SourceForge install file (2.9 MB in size) is a self-extracting compressed (ZIP) file. To install, click on it in Windows Explorer. The default folder (or your alternative) will be created for you and the observation programs unzipped. A program group called Observation Programs will be created on your Start - Programs menu. To uninstall the programs, simply erase these files.
A brief description of the programs follows. If you would like more detailed information before you download, Click here to view the Manual. Small sample data and recoding files are included with the installation package, so that you can run the software immediately, to see what it will do.
The programs: an overview
The first program in this suite is FOCAL, a program for data collection. Although designed for continuous, focal-individual data, it can also be used to collect instantaneous scan sampling data (Altmann, 1974). Up to 100 user-defined behavior codes and actors - targets codes are displayed on-screen. Session notes or corrections to the data file can be made at the end of each trial or sample. Durations are recorded automatically. Normally, codes for actors, behaviours, and targets are entered; but when coding dyadic interactions, "Quick Entry" mode allows FOCAL to insert the most recently used codes for actor and target as defaults, so that all you need to enter are behavior codes.
SCAN checks FOCAL data files for errors that may have been introduced during editing. It also reports total time observed and total events recorded.
KAPPA assesses reliabilities, reporting per cent agreement for each code and the entire taxonomy, kappa and the 95% confidence interval for kappa for the entire taxonomy, and a pseudo-kappa for individual codes. It also displays for each code the five codes most often confused with it. To assess reliability of event durations (important for time-budget analyses), KAPPA correlates durations across observers as an overall measure of reliability, and also identifies problematic individual codes with standardized residuals.
Because observers coding in real time will necessarily be slightly out of synchrony even when they agree about which codes to use, KAPPA allows the user to specify how much time discrepancy to tolerate. KAPPA can also mark and display matching events and sequences in copies of the data files being compared, as an aid in training or in understanding problematic levels of agreement.
LAG assess contingency, reporting conditional probabilities for all events following (or preceding) a specified behavior, as well as rates and frequencies. Contingencies between a specified criterion and the behaviours that follow it are assessed by exact binomial probabilities. Several effect sizes are reported.
Using techniques described in Bakeman and Gottman (1986), the SEARCH module of LAG finds entire sequences of contingent behavior that begin at a specified criterion, based on output from LAG. SEARCH will automatically generate needed LAG output, or it will examine existing output.
When comparing sequences of behavior across groups (for instance, of aggressive and non-aggressive children), it is necessary to know how often a sequence that was statistically significant in one group occurs in the other. The COUNT module of LAG reports the number of occurrences for specified sequences and assesses group differences using chi-square. It will read sequences directly from SEARCH output, or it will look for user-specified sequences.
LAG will also produce output for log-linear analyses, if desired. This output is in the form of a BMDP instruction set, with data. It can be run directly by BMDP 4F, or modified for use with SPSS. A STATXACT import file is also created, so that exact chi-square probabilities can be assessed when expected probabilities are low. Thus contingency can be assessed both for specific events and their sequelae, and generally, across the entire taxonomy.
The TIMES module of LAG calculates time-budget results for focal-individual or instantaneous scan samples (that is, it reports durations as proportions of total time observed, and events as proportions of total events observed). TIMES can handle multiple simultaneous events.
Beginning in version 2.5, the INTERVALS ANALYSIS module of LAG provides information that is helpful in setting criteria for defining episodes (of conflict, or conversations, etc.) It displays information about the intervals between criterion behaviors (e.g., conflict codes). Intervals will be short within episodes and long between them. By examing the distribution of these intervals, one can make a more informed choice of a cutpoint defining episode boundaries. The distribution of intervals is graphed, and all occurrences are listed, sorted from shortest to longest
The INTERVALS ANALYSIS module also allows users to generate random models of the distribution of episodes across focal samples, to see whether certain candidate criteria produce possible distributions or improbable ones.
KAPPA and all modules of LAG permit behavior codes to be combined to form new, more inclusive categories. LAG also allows actor and target codes to be combined, so that data can be pooled across individuals (e.g., all same-sex peers who interacted with the focal child). Recoding information is "remembered" in small text files to facilitate use across programs. The original data files themselves are not altered.
Because the data and output files created by these programs are text files, they can be read and manipulated by commonly used word processing and statistical programs, such as Word, Word Perfect, SPSS, BMDP, and R. Thus it is a straightforward matter to transfer rates or conditional probabilities, for example, from LAG or TIMES output files to a BMDP, R, or SPSS set-up file for further analysis.
I would like to acknowledge the help given by Thompson Rivers University in the development of the current Windows version of this software.
Altmann, J. (1974). Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour, 49, 227-267.
Bakeman, R., & Gottman, J. (1986). Observing interaction: an introduction to sequential analysis. Cambridge: The Cambridge University Press.
Baumrind, D. (1970a). Mother rating scales. Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.
Baumrind, D. (1970b). Father preschool rating scales. Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.
Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology Monographs, 4, 1-103.
Baumrind, D. (1972). Manual for the Parent Rating Scales. Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley.
Effect sizes. A brief discussion of effect sizes, with instructions on using the calculators and converters below. To download these programs from my SourceForge site, click here, then open the self-extracting zip file.
To download Steiger and Fouladi's 1992 program R2 for calculating confidence intervals for R-square click here. You will also need their manual. R2 is a DOS program, so if you are using Windows Vista or Windows 7, you will need to use a DOS emulator, such as DOSbox. Both R2 and DOSbox are free software (although DOSbox would appreciate a donation, I'm sure).
James Steiger also provides other useful software on his homepage for calculating confidence intervals (for eta-square and chi-square, for example), but their use is complex -- that is, rather than calculating confidence intervals directly, they provide values that can be used to calculate intervals using formulae in Smithson (2003) or Steiger (2004). A bit daunting, but possible.
Smithson, M. (2003). Confidence intervals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Steiger, J. H. (2004). Beyond the F test: Effect size confidence intervals and tests of close fit in the analysis of variance and contrast analysis. Psychological Methods, 9, 164-182