William L. Poteat Professor of Psychology
Best is a psychologist who studies child development with a particular focus on gender stereotypes and young children.
Having studied developmental psychology for more than 40 years, Deborah Best is an expert in human development and early childhood. As an authority in some of the most controversial topics in parenting, psychology and education today, Best can discuss gender roles in childhood and adolescence, cross-cultural views on co-sleeping, age-related changes in memory, the development… Read More »
Having studied developmental psychology for more than 40 years, Deborah Best is an expert in human development and early childhood. As an authority in some of the most controversial topics in parenting, psychology and education today, Best can discuss gender roles in childhood and adolescence, cross-cultural views on co-sleeping, age-related changes in memory, the development of sex stereotypes and cognitive and social development.
Her research has ranged from cognitive development during the preschool and primary school years – including age-related changes in memory and the effects of memory training – to cross-cultural comparisons of public social behaviors of men and women. In addition to having received numerous awards for her research and teaching, Best also served as the first female Dean of the College at Wake Forest.
Santa, don't pigeonhole my kid
November 30, 2015
How to combat it? Parents can actively engage their children in play that defies traditional gender stereotypes, says Deborah Best, a Wake Forest University psychology professor who specializes in gender stereotypes among young children across cultures. Parents can also choose toys that encourage children’s imagination, Best says.
“One of the sad things about toys these days is they do everything for the kid,” says Best. “Some of the things I loved were totally neutral: Taking cardboard boxes and drawing on them, making forts by spreading bed spreads across the chair, putting on shows (with my cousins).”
How 3 new kids’ books help cope with traumatic events
October 14, 2015
Broaching difficult subjects with kids is something psychologists have been thinking about more since 9/11, says Dr. Deborah Best, a professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, and she’s happy to see more children’s books taking on the challenge. Kids have to learn how to deal with problems, she says, and “these books are a great first step into trying to incorporate that into some of the fun things that kids do, like sitting down and reading.”
Gender-neutral parenting: Letting kids choose
U.S. News & World Report
September 4, 2015
There’s no single definition of gender-neutral parenting. “My version is one where you let the child gravitate to the kinds of things they do well in,” says Deborah Best, a distinguished professor of psychology at Wake Forest University.
“As a parent, if you’re really going to be neutral about it, you don’t enforce your views,” Best says. “You let the child select the kinds of things that they find interesting. You offer opportunities, and you try to reinforce them trying other things rather than saying, ‘Oh no, boys don’t do that.’”
What motivates Tim Duncan to keep playing?
August 5, 2015
“His mom’s death left a scar,” said Deborah Best, chairman of the Wake Forest psychology department and Duncan’s academic adviser.
“He talked to me about watching her die,” Best told USA Today. “I think a lot of his independence today came out of losing his mom at such an early age.”
Areas of Expertise
- Cognitive Development
- Cross-cultural psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Gender Roles Development
- Health Psychology
- Memory Development
- Stereotypes and Attitudes
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Ph.D., Psychology
Wake Forest University: M.A., Psychology
Wake Forest University: B.A., PsychologyContact
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