David C Witherington

Associate Professor

Area Head Evolution & Development

Photo: David Witherington
Logan Rm 112
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1998
Curriculum vitae

Research Area/s:

Evolution and Development

Research Interests:

  • Dynamic Systems and Metatheory
  • Emotional development in infancy and early childhood
  • Cognitive development in infancy and early childhood
  • Development of fear of the dark in preschoolers
  • Development of perception and action relations in infancy


Accepting students?  Dr. Witherington is not accepting students for Fall 2023.  

My primary focus is on delineating, elucidating, and resolving conceptual confusion within the metatheoretical foundations of research activity in psychological science. Empirically, my focus is on the study of early childhood, particularly the area of emotional development.

Selected Publications

Witherington, D. C., Overton, W. F, Lickliter, R., Marshall, P. J., & Narvaez, D. (2018). Metatheory and the primacy of conceptual analysis in developmental science. Human Development, 61, 181-198.

Lickliter, R., & Witherington, D. C. (2017). Towards a truly developmental epigenetics.  Human Development, 60, 124-138.

Witherington, D. C., & Lickliter, R. (2016). Integrating development and evolution in psychological science: Evolutionary Developmental Psychology, Developmental Systems, and Explanatory Pluralism. Human Development, 59, 200-234.

Witherington, D. C., & Heying, S. (2015). The study of process and the nature of explanation in developmental science. Review of General Psychology, 19, 345-356.

Witherington, D. C. (2015). Dynamic systems in developmental science. In W. F. Overton & P. C. M. Molenaar (Vol. Eds.) & R. M. Lerner (Ed.-in-Chief), Handbook of child psychology and developmental science. Vol. 1: Theory & method (7th ed., pp. 63-112). Hoboken,  NJ: Wiley.

Witherington, D. C. (2014). Self-organization and explanatory pluralism: Avoiding the snares of reductionism in developmental science. Research in Human Development, 11, 22-36.

Witherington, D. C., & Heying, S. (2013). Embodiment and agency: Toward a holistic synthesis for developmental science. In R. M. Lerner & J. B. Benson (Eds.), Advances in child development and behavior, Vol. 44: Embodiment and Epigenesis: Theoretical and Methodological Issues in Understanding the Role of Biology within the Relational Developmental System Part A: Philosophical, Theoretical, and Biological Dimensions  (pp. 161-192). Oxford: Elsevier Inc Academic Press.

Courses Taught

PSY 220: Developmental Psychology (undergraduate)

PSY 324: Infant Development (undergraduate)

PSY 373: Psychology of Horror (undergraduate)

PSY 450: Philosophy of Neuroscience(undergraduate)

PSY 507: Teaching Seminar in Psychology (graduate)

PSY 521: Advanced Developmental Psychology (graduate)


If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies with Dr. Witherington, please contact him by email.