Psychology and Brain Sciences | Behavior Disorders of Childhood & Adolescence
P425 | 13343 | Bates, J.

The Bulletin summarizes the course as, “A survey of major
behavior disorders, with emphasis on empirical research and clinical
description relative to etiology, assessment, prognosis, and
treatment.” We will take a developmental perspective toward
understanding child and adolescent disorders, considering how
biological, psychological, and social processes join to produce
behavior problems versus positive adaptations. We will consider both
standard, diagnostic category systems and dimensional taxonomies of
behavioral disorders. We will discuss research on the development of
externalizing behavior problems (such as conduct problems and
attention problems), internalizing problems (such as anxiety and
depression), and developmental disorders (such as autism). We will
also discuss scientific and clinical methods and clinical cases.
The field of developmental psychopathology research, which
informs this course, is exciting and vigorous. Researchers are
trying to advance understanding of processes that are of great
importance to society. If we can understand how behavior disorders
develop, we are more likely to be able to effectively prevent and
treat these disorders, and to help children to grow in positive ways.

Lecture and discussion. Some discussions will be focused on
particular activities, e.g., analyzing a particular case study or
research article. Some videos will be shown.

The professor, John E. Bates, Ph.D., has conducted research
on the development of child and adolescent behavior problems. He is
especially interested in how children’s individual, biologically-
based characteristics, such as temperament, predict common behavior
problems in interaction with environmental factors, such as
parenting qualities. His longitudinal research has followed children
and their families from very early in childhood to early adulthood.
He has also provided treatment and consultation for families and
schools dealing with child and adolescent problems. His main
clinical interest is in treatment of young children’s oppositional
Dr. Bates has led developmental psychopathology seminars at
both the advanced undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as
child therapy practicum for advanced graduate students. He has also
taught undergraduate courses in abnormal psychology and in behavior
Dr. Bates will offer regular office hours and appointments.
And he will be available by email ( or phone (5-
8693). He encourages students to come and chat, whether they are
doing well or having difficulties with the material, whether they
are intrigued by something or experiencing boredom.

Student Workload:
Students will be expected to read large portions of a high-
level textbook (Mash & Wolfe, Abnormal Child Psychology, 3rd
Ed., Wadsworth, 608 pp.). There will also be some additional reading
of journal articles and case studies. Students will be expected to
master both text and lecture material. The two sets of material will
substantially, but not completely overlap. Mastery will be assessed
primarily by exams. There will be two midterms and a final.
Expectations will be rigorous—that is, there will be some
challenging questions. Some of the questions may concern things that
are in reading but not lecture material and vice versa. The standard
expectation is that students will spend at least 6 hours per week
preparing for class and reviewing class notes, including reading.
Students will also be expected to participate regularly (part of the
grade will be based on daily attendance and various kinds of
contributions during lectures and class discussions). The grade for
the course will be based on the sum of the student’s test scores and
the participation bonus. The sum of the test scores will be
considered in relation to the distribution of the whole class. Based
on past experience, at least 40% will earn A’s and B’s; and if
overall class effort and performance are excellent, then the
percentage of top grades will be higher than this.