Skip to main content
Faculty/Staff Resources
Search search
Mobile Search:
Susan McHale
Susan M. McHale
Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Professor of Demography
Director, Social Science Research Institute
Associate Director, Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute
  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Family Development
  • Child Development
  • Adolescent Development
  • Graduate Program
+ See All - See Less
  • B.A., Psychology, Bucknell University
  • M.A., Developmental Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
+ See All - See Less
Office Address
114 Henderson
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802
Professional Experience

2007-present: Director, Social Science Research Institute 2002-2003: Interim Department Head, Human Development and Family Studies 1998-2002: Co-Professor in Charge of the Graduate program (with Ann C. Crouter) 1980-present: Assistant Professor to Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University 1979-80: Post-Doctoral Fellow, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, The University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

Grants and Research Projects

Research in my lab focuses on family systems dynamics including youth’s and parents’ family roles, relationships, and daily activities and how these are linked to family members’ psychological and physical health and development. One line of research targets sibling relationships and their role in the larger family system: siblings influence one another directly, by virtue of their relationship experiences, but also indirectly through their influence on processes including social comparisons among family members, parents’ differential treatment, resource dilution, formation of family coalitions, and the like. A second focus is on family gender dynamics and the ways in which family roles and experiences are linked to differences in girls’ and boys’ psychological and physical health as well as choices in young adulthood in the areas of education, work, and family formation. A third area of emphasis is the socio-cultural contexts of family dynamics, including how cultural values and practices have implications for family life and youth well-being. Relying on ethnic homogeneous designs, research from our lab investigates cultural values and practices that explain within-group variability among Mexican-origin and among African American families. More generally, grounded in an ecological developmental perspective, our research highlights the everyday experiences of youth and their families using daily diary methods to capture family members’ time use and its correlates along with more typical, interview and survey methods. Our lab’s research also relies on longitudinal designs to investigate the implications of family experiences for youth development and well-being over time, and includes experimental interventions to test the effects of targeted family processes on youth and parent health and adjustment outcomes.

Together, the longitudinal family studies from our lab have produced a rich data base of information on the experiences of mothers, fathers, and siblings as these change over time, in families from a range of backgrounds and circumstances. Graduate students have been extensively involved in all of our work, and our projects will continue to provide a variety of opportunities for students interested in family systems dynamics and human development.

  • McHale, S.M., Lawson, K.M., Davis, K.D., Casper, L., Kelly, E.L. & Buxton, O. (in press). Effects of a workplace intervention on sleep in employees’ children. Journal of Adolescent Health.

  • McHale, S.M., Updegraff, K.A., & Feinberg, M.E. (2015). Siblings of youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Theoretical perspectives on sibling relationships and individual adjustment. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 589-602.

  • Lee, B., Lawson, K.M., McHale, S.M. (2015). Longitudinal associations between gender-typed skills and interests and their links to occupational outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 88, 121-130.

  • Dotterer, A. M., Lowe, K., & McHale, S. M. (2014). Academic growth trajectories and family relationships among African American youth. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 24, 734-747.

  • Solmeyer, A. R., McHale, S. M., & Crouter, A. C. (2014). Longitudinal associations between sibling relationship qualities and risky behavior across adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 50, 600-610.

  • McHale, S.M., Booth, A., & Amato, P. (Eds.) (2014). Emerging methods in family research. New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-01562-0.

  • Lam, C. B., McHale, S. M., & Crouter, A. C. (2012). Parent-child shared time from middle childhood to late adolescence: Developmental course and adjustment correlates. Child Development, 83, 2089- 2103.

  • McHale, S. M., Blocklin, M.K., Walter, K.N., Davis, K.D., Almeida, D.M., Cousino Klein, L. (2012).The role of daily activities in youths’ stress physiology. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51, 623-628.

  • McHale, S.M., Updegraff, K.A., & Whiteman, S.D. (2012a). Sibling relationships and influences in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 913-930.

  • McHale, S. M., Kim, J., Kan, M. L., & Updegraff, K. (2011). Sleep in Mexican American adolescents: Social, ecological and well-being correlates. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 666-679.

Additional Information

Family relationships and family roles (particularly gender roles) of siblings in the child, adolescent, and young adult; sociocultural contexts of family relationships.