Edward Seidman

Professor of Psychology

Edward Seidman

Phone: (212)-998-5369

How do we understand the operation of social settings, such as families, classrooms, schools, peer groups, and community-based organizations, where children and youth have many of their formative daily experiences? How do we understand and measure social setting processes (i.e., practices, transactions, norms), or what I refer to as social regularities (Seidman, 1988)? How do these social regularities affect youths’ positive and negative developmental trajectories? And, how can this knowledge inform the creation of programs and policies to promote positive youth development? These questions reflect my long-standing and current interests and work.


Degrees Held

  • Ph.D. University of Kentucky 1969
    Clinical Psychology & Medical Behavioral Science
  • MA Temple University 1965
  • BS Pennsylvania State University 1963


  • 2009 : Seymour B. Sarason Award for Community Research and Action, Society for Community Research and Action, American Psychological Association
  • 2008 : Public Service Award, Society for Prevention Research (Awarded to the Senior Program Team of the William T. Grant Foundation, headed by Edward Seidman)
  • 2003 : Suinn Ethnic Minority Achievement Award, American Psychological Association (Awarded to NYU Community Psychology Doctoral Program, for which I was Program Director and member)
  • 2001 : Ethnic Minority Mentorship Award, The Society for Community Research and Action: A Division of the APA
  • 2001 : Resident Scholar, Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center (Italy)
  • 2000 : Outstanding Alumnus Award (sustained excellence in research, teaching, and service), University of Kentucky
  • 1987 : Division of Community Psychology, APA
  • 1999 : Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Community Research and Action (Inaugural Award), Council of Program
  • 1990 : Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, The Society for Community Research and Action: A Division of the APA President
  • 1978 : Exemplary Project-Adolescent Diversion Project, Child Welfare Information Exchange, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare
  • 1977 : Fulbright-Hays Senior Research Scholar, University of Athens (Greece)
  • 1976 : Consulting Psychology Research Award, First Prize, Division of Consulting Psychology, APA
  • 1975 : Exemplary Project-Community-Based Adolescent Diversion Program, National Institute of Law Enforcement Administration Agency, U.S. Dept. of Justice
  • 1974 : Graduate Student Organization Award for Excellence in Teaching and Contributions to Graduate Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • 1972 : Graduate Student Organization Award for Excellence in Teaching and Contributions to Graduate Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Research Interests

Current Research Activities and Interests I am actively involved in two new research activities that grow out of prior interests and work: 1) understanding the impact of middle school transitions; and 2) developing the measurement of teacher practices and classroom processes (social regularities) that are cost-efficient, rigorous, and useful for feedback to teachers to improve their performance. 1. Middle School Transitions In collaboration with Dr. Elise Capella, we are conducting a secondary analysis study using a nationally representative sample of schools and children for who repeated waves of data have been collected from Kindergarten to 8th grade. We are trying to understand the impact of both differential timing of the transition to middle grade schools (e.g., at 5th, 6th, or 7th grade versus a K-8 school) and the differential quality of sending and receiving school (e.g., heterogeneity of population, climate) on youth outcomes. 2. Measuring Teacher Practices I am collaborating with Dr. Aber on a large-scale randomized control trial on an integrated classroom-based socio-emotional, literacy, and numeracy intervention in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here I have taken primary responsibility for the development of a measure of teacher practices and classroom processes that will be cost-efficient, rigorous, and provide feedback to teachers to improve their performance. These results will enable us to see if we have altered the classroom as a setting and to examine whether student-level outcomes are mediated by changes in these classroom practices, Previous Research on Adolescent Development in the Urban Context In the recent past, and in collaboration with Drs. Larry Aber and LaRue Allen, I have conducted a longitudinal study of over 1400 economically at-risk urban adolescents, known as the Adolescent Pathways Project (APP; Seidman, 1991). The bulk of my work on the APP has focused on several major issues: 1) understanding how the normative transitions from elementary to junior high school and from junior to senior high school impact developmental trajectories; 2) developing a holistic understanding of how the unique constellations of daily transactions of youth with their family, peers, school, and neighborhood are associated with different developmental outcomes; and 3) discovering and understanding profiles of contextual competence. 1. Normative School Transitions The transition into junior high school seems to be far more problematic than the transition into high school. While academic performance drops across both transitions, self-esteem only declines across the transition to junior high school (Seidman et al, 1994, 1996). These changes do not vary as a function of student gender or race/ethnicity. After making the transition to junior high school the students become more disengaged from the educational enterprise: They report increased academic hassles, decreased support from teachers, and reduced extracurricular involvement. Two years after this school transition, these effects are not attenuated. Currently, we are examining the long-term effects, i.e., five years later, of these normative transitions and the potential factors that moderate and mediate these effects, e.g., racial/ethnic identity. As we have begun to look at individual trajectories of self-esteem across the transition to junior high school and beyond, we find that there are seven different patterns of change in self-esteem over time, not one (Seidman & French, 2004). Only two of these self-esteem trajectories experience immediate and dramatic declines in self-esteem across the transition year even though they were relatively high in self-esteem before commencing the transition to junior high school. These two trajectories are not differentiated from the other two trajectories that began high in self-esteem in terms of any personality or individual demographic variables. On the other hand, the students constituting the trajectories that declined dramatically were more likely to reside in under-resourced neighborhoods and families. These families appeared too over taxed to be able to provide the support needed for youth to successfully make this difficult school transition. 2. Holistic Views of Family, Peers, and Neighborhood Settings In a series of studies, we have looked holistically at youth perceived daily hassles, social support, and involvement with family, peer, and neighborhood (Seidman et al., 1998, 1999). Within each setting youth describe a series of dramatically different constellations of perceived transactions. These different constellations of transactions place youth at differential levels of risk/protection, in terms, of self-esteem, depression, and antisocial behavior. When we examine the joint effects of family and peer profiles on self-esteem, we find a strong association between family and peer profiles that are similar, yet peer transactions also partially mediate the association between family transactions and self-esteem (Roberts et al., 2000). 3. Contextual Competence Most recently, we have uncovered nine distinct constellations of youths' behavioral and perceptual self-reports of engagement and performance with peer, school, athletic, employment, cultural, and religious contexts when they are 16 to 17 years of age. We refer to these as profiles of contextual competence (Pedersen et al., under review). Overall, profiles with high engagement in only a single context, such as religion or athletics, do not buffer youths from negative developmental outcomes. Profiles representing high engagement and performance with two or more contexts are associated with higher self-esteem and lower depression. At the same time, profiles marked by high engagement in the risky contexts of athletics or employment are associated with greater delinquency. These results have important implications for planning of services by youth organizations. Using these profiles of contextual competence in conjunction with the youth's time diaries, we plan to examine the association between profile and time use. We also plan to examine the direct and indirect effects of family and peer transactions during early adolescence on the profiles of contextual competence that emerge in middle adolescence. 4. 
Intervention and Policy Our research on school transitions has lead to evidence-based major policy recommendations for educational reform (Seidman, Aber, & French, 2003; Seidman, in preparation). We have found that the transition to the junior high school is riskier than the transition to senior high school because a greater developmental mismatch occurs at the time of the transition to junior high school. That is, early adolescents experience numerous biological, cognitive, emotional, and social changes. These changes occur at a time when students make the shift from an elementary school setting in which all the students and teachers are known to each other to one in which they are shuffled from one unfamiliar teacher and set of classmates to another classroom every 40 minutes. Our findings, in conjunction with other literature, lead us to recommend that: a) more resources and attention be directed toward the organization of schooling during early adolescence; b) ideally, early adolescents should attend K-8 schools; and c) when K-8 schools are not feasible, middle grades schools need to be reorganized into smaller and more stable environments attuned to the developmental needs of early adolescents to maintain their engagement in the educational enterprise.