2003-2004 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award

Michael Lamb

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

Michael Lamb is nationally and internationally recognized for his fundamental contributions to our understanding of early family relationships and child care, and for his groundbreaking work at the intersection of developmental science and public policy. His research has addressed central issues of policy and practice concerning divorce and child custody, the investigation of child maltreatment, and the effects of child care experience on socioemotional development. His scholarship has significantly advanced developmental psychology while also having a major impact on legal authorities, forensic investigators, policymakers, and others concerned with the well-being of children.

Lamb’s research on early family relationships has highlighted the role of fathers and the importance of secure relationships between parents and children. He has explored fatherhood in traditional and nontraditional families, studying single fathers, families in economic difficulty, and families at risk of violence. He has written compellingly and evocatively of how custody arrangements can enable or undermine continuing paternal relationships with offspring and the importance of shared parenting after divorce, emphasizing that the needs of children are paramount in custody decisions.

His research on child care has explored its effects on social, emotional, and personality development in innovative culturally-comparative studies, and he has been a singularly thoughtful and insightful interpreter of the research literature on child care quality. His attention to questions of relational security and stability, transitional influences, and cultural values has contributed a unique and invaluable developmentally-informed perspective to broader discussions of child care policy.

Lamb’s program of research on forensic interviews with children in the context of child abuse investigations also has international significance. In field studies and laboratory research, he has developed innovative and developmentally appropriate procedures for child interviews that have now become the standard in several countries, and in doing so he has integrated a sensitive understanding of young children’s perspectives and needs into forensic investigations.

In these and other endeavors, Lamb exemplifies a developmental scientist whose work has fundamentally advanced the interests of young children and their families. He is a scientist and scholar of the highest integrity, whose work has an extraordinarily significant and enduring influence on scholarship and on the conditions of children worldwide.