David C Witherington

Associate Professor

Area Head Evolution & Development

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

Research Area/s:

Evolution and Development

Research Interests:

  • Phenomenology and the study of lived experience
  • Dynamic Systems and Metatheory
  • 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 2024.  

Conceptually, my 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 phenomenological study of lived experience at various points of development, as well as on the study of emotional development in early childhood.

Selected Publications

Witherington, D. C., & McCready, M. (in press). Character virtues in developmental science. In M. D. Mathews & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Multidisciplinary handbook of character virtue development. Routledge.

Witherington, D., & Vandiver, T. (2023). Metatheory. In J. Mattingly (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of theory in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Vol. 1, pp. 592-594). SAGE Publications, Inc., https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781071872383.n134

Narvaez, D., Moore, D. S., Witherington, D. C., Vandiver, T. I., & Lickliter, R. (2022). Evolving evolutionary psychology. American Psychologist, 77, 424-438.

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.

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). Wiley.


Courses Taught

PSYC 391: Junior Honors Seminar

PSYC 373: Psychology of Horror

PSYC 450/650: Development and Evolution

PSYC 528: Seminar on Cognitive Development

PSYC 629: Culture and Human Development


Current Students:

Naila deCruz-Dixon

Maria McCready

Jacob Spinks

Timothy Vandiver

Mattilyn Wiseman