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Distinguished Contribution Award Talk: Dieter Wolke

22 June 2021 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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The Developmental Psychology Section is pleased to welcome Professor Dieter Wolke to this event.

In this talk Professor Wolke will deliver his 2020 Distinguished Contribution Award Talk: ‘Born at risk or into risk environments: Consequences for development into adulthood’.

After the talk there will be time for questions. 

Learn more about Professor Wolke's research.


Professor Dieter Wolke
University of Warwick, Department of Psychology and Centre for Early Life

'Born at risk or into risk environments: Consequences for development into adulthood'

Risk refers to the increased probability of experiencing an adverse outcome. Over the last decades I have been studying three major potential risks for development: being born very preterm (VP; i.e. before 32 weeks gestation); experiencing crying, sleeping and feeding problems (i.e. infant regulatory problems) in infancy and finally, bullying at home by siblings or bullying by peers in school. Each of these are risks that cannot be studied experimentally for obvious ethical reasons but require observation studies.

When I started this research there were no prospective studies that had investigated the effects of any of these risk factors from infancy or childhood into adulthood. It thus necessitated the design and conduct of new studies to follow these at risk children over decades. We either conceived new studies (e.g. the Bavarian Longitudinal Study, the Arvo-Yllpoe Longitudinal Study, GAIN study), implemented relevant measures in ongoing longitudinal studies (e.g. ALSPAC, MCS, Understanding Society) or developed collaborative analysis or data platforms across cohort studies to replicate findings and establish universality of risks in different countries and social conditions.

While the risks occur early in pregnancy, infancy or childhood, there are many other potential influences across childhood and adolescence that shape development into adulthood. Thus, we always considered in our studies the environments the risk children are born into and influences within and beyond the family. I will provide an overview of some of our major findings of the long term consequences of being born very preterm, having had infant regulatory problems or having been bullied by peers or siblings. I will discuss the advantages of collaboration across disciplines as well as some methodological challenges and implications for research and practice for the future.

01332 224509

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