Developmentally Informed Policy & Practice Research Lab

Amanda M. Fanniff, Ph.D.

Positions are available for 3 students to join this research group focused on development, sexuality, and juvenile justice issues. Some areas of interest include:

  1. developmentally and empirically informed assessment, treatment, prevention, and policy regarding adolescents and young adults who have committed sexual harm;
  2. juvenile competence to stand trial, including assessment and the impact of development on competence; and
  3. cultural considerations in forensic contexts.

You will be expected to attend weekly lab meetings throughout your participation in the research group (including your dissertation year) as well as additional small group meetings. You will be expected contribute to research group activities (eventually including your own projects) for a total of about 8-10 hours per week. Most of the work you do for the research group will be able to be completed on a schedule of your choosing. Descriptions of selected current projects follow.

  1. Multidimensional Inventory of Development Sex and Aggression in a Community Sample of College Students. This study focuses on early exposure to pornography and how it impacts and interacts with other childhood experiences as well as personality characteristics to predict sexual coercion. Other exploratory aspects of the project include investigating the perceived impact of pornography use (positive and negative) in men and women and questions regarding concerning behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, intimate partner violence) that may co-occur with sexual coercion. All students in the group will be expected to assist with data collection (current site is Dominican University of California, hoping to expand to community colleges as well), data entry, data analysis, and manuscript preparation.  
  2. Cultural Influences on Self-Reported Child Maltreatment. Using data from the project above, students are working on exploring differences between racial/ethnic groups on self-reported child abuse and neglect and determining whether the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire functions similarly in different groups. Although new group members might not be actively involved in this project, we are looking to expand to further explore cultural influences on assessment tools that may be used in forensic settings.
  3. Gender, Sexuality, and Cultural Influences on Rape Myth Acceptance. Although young people today are less likely to endorse many blatant rape myths (e.g., “A woman can resist a rape if she really wants to”), endorsement of more subtle myths is likely more common and the impact of individual characteristics of victims and respondents in terms of gender, sexual orientation, and culture is unknown. We are currently developing a project designed to assess endorsement of DIPP Research Lab Updated 3/21/18 p. 2 subtle rape myths across different victim/respondent combinations. Our hope is that understanding such factors may inform prevention practices (e.g., on college campuses). New students may be involved in study development, data analysis, and writing of results for this project or in the development of follow-up research.
  4. Forensic Journals and Culture. This project focuses on how research published in top forensic psychology journals incorporate cultural considerations. The study will replicate a paper by Carter & Forsyth (2007) and will extend beyond the analyses in that paper by addressing the degree to which additional recommendations for culturally competent research are met and including other cultural groups (e.g., sexual identity in addition to racial/ethnic identity). This project also may not directly involve new students, but reflects the current interests of the group. New projects on similar topics will be developed.
  5. Our group is also collaborating with Dr. Sita Patel on the Trajectories of Risk and Resiliency among Newcomer Immigrant Adolescents project. Projects may include analyses focused on whether risk and protective factors identified in the broader delinquency literature function in the same way in this unique population.

Other duties for the research group may include preparing brief statistics presentations for the research group or contributing to other projects that may be developed. Students may be involved in the preparation of non-empirical publications (e.g., chapters solicited for inclusion in edited books) and will be encouraged to develop proposals for empirical research using existing datasets that include both juveniles adjudicated for sexual offenses and other delinquents. The research group is open to formulating new study ideas; students would have the opportunity to be involved in development of new projects as well.


How to Apply:

  • Cover letter (2 pages max) that includes (1) your research interests, (2) a brief description of your career goals (e.g., professor, clinician, etc.) and populations of interest (e.g., adult offenders, juvenile offenders, sex offenders), and (3) a description of how the DIPP lab might contribute to your broader career goals
  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing samples: the first version and the current version of your first year Research Methods proposal and up to one additional writing sample (not required) that best conveys your writing ability, preferably a research paper. 


Applicants will first meet with current members of the lab. In addition to providing an initial interview, you can also use this opportunity to learn more about the group to determine if this lab is a good fit for you. Based on your application materials and the feedback resulting from the first round of interviews, Dr. Fanniff will interview a select group of highly qualified applicants. New group members will be selected based on merit and degree of fit regarding research interests. Note: In April, our lab website will launch at the following address:

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