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J. Lawrence Aber

Willner Family Professor of Psychology and Public Policy and University Professor

Applied Psychology

(212) 998-5410

Lawrence Aber is Willner Family Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and University Professor, New York University, where he also serves as board chair of its Institute of Human Development and Social Change and co-director of the international research center Global TIES for Children. Dr. Aber earned his PhD from Yale University and an AB from Harvard University. He previously taught at Barnard College, Columbia University, and at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where he also directed the National Center for Children in Poverty. He is an internationally recognized expert in child development and social policy and has co-edited Neighborhood Poverty: Context and Consequences for Children (1997, Russell Sage Foundation), Assessing the Impact of September 11th 2001 on Children Youth and Parents: Lessons for Applied Developmental Science (2004, Erlbaum) and Child Development and Social Policy: Knowledge for Action (2007, APA Publications). His basic research examines the influence of poverty and violence, at the family and community levels, on the social, emotional, behavioral, cognitive and academic development of children and youth. Dr. Aber also designs and conducts rigorous evaluations of innovative programs and policies for children, youth and families, such as violence prevention, literacy development, welfare reform and comprehensive services initiatives. Dr. Aber advises and consults with media, public officials, private foundations and leading non-profit organizations who seek his opinion or advice about pressing matters concerning child and family well-being. In 2006, Dr. Aber was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Commission for Economic Opportunity, an initiative to help reduce poverty and increase economic opportunity in New York City. In 2007, Dr Aber served as the Nannerl O. Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2008 and 2009, he served part-time as Visiting Research Professor in Evidence-based Social Interventions in the Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and was its Board Chair from 2008-2014. He served as consultant to the World Bank on its project, “Children and Youth in Crisis”. From 2003-2006, Dr. Aber chaired the Advisory Board, International Research Network on Children and Armed Conflict of the Social Science Research Council, in collaboration with the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. Currently, he conducts research on: the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on children’s development in South Africa (in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council); the impact of preschool teacher training quality and children’s learning and development in Ghana (in collaboration with Innovations for Poverty Action); and on school- and community-based interventions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Sierra Leone and Lebanon (in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee).

Selected Publications

  •  Yoshikawa, H., Dryden-Peterson, S., Burde, D., & Aber, J.L. (2022, in press). Education for Refugee and Displaced Children. In M. Suárez-Orozco & C. Suárez-Orozco (Eds.). Education: A Global Compact for a Time of Crisis (Chapter 4). New York, NY: Columba University Press.
  •  Tubbs Dolan, C., Kim, H.Y., Brown, L., Gjicali, K., Borsani, S., El Houchaimi, S., & Aber, J.L. (2021). Supporting Syrian Refugee Children’s Academic and Social-Emotional Learning in National Education Systems: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of Nonformal Remedial Support and Mindfulness Programs in Lebanon.   American Educational Research Journal, 1-42.  Published online on December 16, 2021. 
  • Gennetian, Lisa A., Shafir, Eldar, Aber, J. Lawrence, & de Hoop Jacobus (2021). Behavioral insights into cash transfers to families with children. Behavioral Science & Policy, 7(1), 71-92. 
  • Aber, J.L., Tubbs Dolan, C., Kim, H., & Brown, L. (2021).  Children’s Learning and Development in Conflict- and Crisis-Affected Countries: Building a Science for Action.  Development & Psychopathology, Special Issue Article, 1-16.
  • Aber, J.L. (2020).  Lessons from Youth in Northern Ireland: Building Measures, Methods, and Interventions. [Peer commentary on the article “Youth in Northern Ireland: Linking Violence Exposure, Emotional Insecurity, and the Political Macrosystem” by D. Townsend, L.K. Taylor, C.E. Merrilees, A. Furey, M.C. Goeke-Morey, P. Shirlow, and E.M. Cummings]. Monograph Matters.
  • Sherr, L., Cluver, L., Desmond, C., Toska, E., Aber, L., Dhaliwal, M., Webb, D., & Dugbaza, J. (2002). A new vehicle to accelerate the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  The Lancet Global Health, 8(5), pp e637-e638.
  • Kim, H., Brown, L., Tubbs Dolan, C., Sheridan, M., & Aber, J.L. (2020).  Post-Migration Risks, Developmental Processes, and Learning among Syrian Refugee Children in Lebanon.  Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 69,101142
  • Gennetian, L.A., Coskun, L.Z., Kennedy, J.L., Kuchirko, Y., & Aber, J.L. (2020). The Impact of Default Options for Parent Participation in an Early Language Intervention. Journal of Child and Family Studies. Published online September 24, 2020.
  • Starkey, L., Aber, J.L., & Crossman, A. (2019).  Risk or resource: Does school climate moderate the influence of community violence on children’s social-emotional development in the Democratic Republic of Congo?  Developmental Science, Special Issue Article, 22,(5), page e12845.
  • Wolf, S., Aber, J.L., Behrman, J., & Peele, M. (2019). Longitudinal causal impacts of preschool teacher training on Ghanaian children’s school readiness: Evidence for persistence and fadeout. Developmental Science, Special Issue Article, 22(5), page e12878.
  • Schwartz, K., Cappella, E., Aber, J.L., Scott, M.A., Wolf, S., & Behrman, J. R. (2019). Early Childhood Teachers' Lives in Context: Implications for Professional Development in Under-Resourced Areas. American Journal of Community Psychology, 1-16.
  • Wolf, S., Aber, J.L., Behrman, J., & Peele, M. (2019). Longitudinal causal impacts of preschool teacher training on Ghanaian children’s school readiness: Evidence for persistence and fadeout. Developmental Science, Special Issue Article, 22(5), page e12878.
  • Yoshikawa, H. Wuermli, A., & Aber, J.L. (2019). Mitigating the Impact of Forced Displacement and Refugee and Unauthorized Migration on Youth: Integrating Developmental Processes with Intervention Research. In M. Suarez-Orozco & M Sondono (eds). Humanitarianism and Mass Migration: Confronting the World Crisis (pp 186-206). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Aber, J.L., Tubbs, C., Torrente, C., Halpin, P.F., Johnston, B., Starkey, L., Shivshanker, A., Annan, J., Seidman, E., & Wolf, S. (2017). Promoting Children’s Learning and Development in Conflict-Affected Countries: Testing Change Process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Development and Psychopathology, 29, 53-67.
  • Aber, J.L., Torrente, C., Starkey, L., Johnston, B., Seidman, E., Halpin, P., Shivshanker, A., Weisenhorn, N., Annan, J., & Wolf, S. (2017). Impacts After One Year of “Healing Classroom” on Children’s Reading and Math Skills in DRC: Results from a Cluster Randomized Trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(3), 507-509.
  • Morris, P.A., Aber, J.L.,, Wolf, S., & Berg, J. (2017). Impacts of Family Rewards on Adolescents' Mental Health and Problem Behavior: Understanding the Full Range of Effects of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program. Prevention Science, 18, 326-336.
  • Gordon, N., Godfrey, E., Aber, J.L., Richter, L., & the SIZE Research Group (2017). Exploring patterns of receipt of cash grants, health care, and education among 7-10 year old children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.Children and Youth Services Review, 78, 177-188.
  • Wolf, S. Berg., Morris, P., & Aber, L. (2017). Conditional cash transfer programs and early childhood development. In Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal & Eric Dearing (Eds.). Handbook of Early Childhood Programs, Practices and Policies (Chapter 20). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing Inc.


Developmental Psychology

Prepare for a career as a professor, researcher, or human services professional, or a director or evaluator of mental health and health promotion programs.

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Human Development Research and Policy

The Human Development Research and Policy program prepares students to pursue careers as research project directors, research coordinators, and more.

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Psychology and Social Intervention

Prepare for a career as a social scientist, with strong quantitative training and exposure to interdisciplinary methods to examine setting-level phenomena.

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Child Development and Social Policy in a Global Society

Examination of key issues facing families and governments in raising children for a 21st century global society. Topics might include: economics and politics affecting child well-being nationally and internationally; child-rearing challenges faced by families and government in low, middle, and high income nations, public (government) and private (family, business and charitable); the role of science and participatory/democratic processes in increasing the effectiveness of public and private investments in children.
Course #
APSY-UE 1279
Applied Psychology

Departmental Seminar: Theories of Change in Applied Psychology

Graduate seminar for students who are planning to teach or do research in psychology. Aims & objectives, content, methods of instruction, preparation & use of materials for evaluation, & a survey of research, literature, & methods.
Course #
APSY-GE 3009
Applied Psychology