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Doreen Arcus

Doreen Arcus

Doreen Arcus, Psychology, Working Group for Autism Research & Education

Associate Professor
Health and Social Sciences Building, 313


Development of children and youth: Disability and individual differences; family and school; foster care and adoption; basic mechanisms in autism and other developmental disorders; sibling relationships among children with autism; school-to-prison pipeline.

Research Interest

Doreen Arcus, Ph.D. is interested in the social development of children and youth in the contexts of family, school and community. Her earlier studies of the interaction of infant temperament and maternal style as predictors of social behavior were among the first research findings using observational data to support nature-nurture interactions in children.  More recently, she has focused on the development of children with disabilities through school transitions, the beliefs of educators about these children, and the experience of parents in negotiating this development.  She also works closely with the MA Department of Social Services on issues related to the well being of children in foster care, especially those aging out of care. 

Educational Background

B.A., St. Xavier College
M.A.,Speech Pathology, Western Michigan University
A.M., Ph.D., Harvard University


Doreen Arcus, Ph.D. studies the development of children and youth, with particular interests in disability and trauma and the way these factors contribute to the experiences of children with different temperaments in the important social contexts of families and schools. She has consulted and published in the areas of child development, parenting, adoption, foster care, child abuse, and children with learning and mental health needs at home and in school. She has experience working with youth in the foster care system and with support groups for families of children who have experienced trauma and abuse.

Her current research addresses basic processes and mechanisms in developmental disorders, sibling relationships among children on the autism spectrum, social-cognitive profiles in juvenile justice involved youth, and the role of bias in the School-to-Prison pipeline. She has advised the MA Department of Education on the unmet needs of children with disabilities in the schools, and the National Collegiate Honor Society on the inclusion of students with disabilities in post-secondary honors education.

Arcus holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. She received the 2010 University of Massachusetts President’s Award for Public Service.