Steven R. Asher

Steven R. Asher

Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison 1972

  • M.A., University of Wisconsin - Madison 1968

  • B.A., Rutgers University 1966


My research interests center on social development in childhood, early adolescence, and the college years with a focus on the conceptualization and assessment of relationship competence and relationship outcomes among youth and young adults. This focus includes: (1) studies of the goals children and college students pursue in response to interpersonal conflict and other challenging social tasks; (2) studies of how social relationships influence feelings of loneliness and belonging in elementary school, middle school, and college; (3) research on how maladaptive beliefs about friendship play a role in college students' relationship adjustment. As part of this program of research, my graduate students, and on-campus collaborators in Duke University's Division of Student Affairs have completed a four-year longitudinal study of the connections between social relationships, alcohol use, academic engagement, and feelings of well-being in college. Currently I am engaged in a four-year collaborative study with scholars and academic professionals on four campuses (Davidson, Duke, Furman, and Johnson C. Smith) that focuses on a wide range of psychological processes and outcomes in college student development. This research is supported by funding the The Duke Endowment.


Peer relations, friendship, social competence, social cognition, loneliness

McDonald, Kristina L., and Steven R. Asher. “Pacifists and Revenge-Seekers in Response to Unambiguous Peer Provocation.Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 47, no. 9, Sept. 2018, pp. 1907–25. Epmc, doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0767-4. Full Text

Rose, A. J., and S. R. Asher. “The Social Tasks of Friendship: Do Boys and Girls Excel in Different Tasks?Child Development Perspectives, vol. 11, no. 1, Mar. 2017, pp. 3–8. Scopus, doi:10.1111/cdep.12214. Full Text

Vanhalst, J., et al. “Why do the chronically lonely stay lonely? Chronically lonely children and adolescents attributions and emotions in situations of social inclusion and exclusion. (Accepted)Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 109, American Psychological Association, Nov. 2015, pp. 932–48.

McDonald, Kristina L., and Steven R. Asher. “College Students' Revenge Goals Across Friend, Romantic Partner, and Roommate Contexts: The Role of Interpretations and Emotions.Social Development (Oxford, England), vol. 22, no. 3, Aug. 2013, pp. 499–521. Epmc, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2011.00650.x. Full Text

Simon, T. R., et al. “Mediators of Effects of a Selective Family-Focused Violence Prevention Approach for Middle School Students.” Prevention Science, vol. 13, Feb. 2012, pp. 1–14. Manual, doi:10.1007/s11121-011-0245-2. Full Text

MacEvoy, J. P., and S. R. Asher. “When friends disappoint: Boys’ and girls’ responses to transgressions of friendship expectations.” Child Development, vol. 83, 2012, pp. 104–19.

Rose, A. J., et al. “How girls and boys expect disclosure about problems will make them feel: implications for friendships.” Child Development, vol. 83, 2012, pp. 844–63. Manual, doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01734.x. Full Text

Weeks, Molly Stroud, and Steven R. Asher. “Loneliness in childhood: toward the next generation of assessment and research.Adv Child Dev Behav, vol. 42, 2012, pp. 1–39. Pubmed, doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-394388-0.00001-0. Full Text

MacEvoy, J. P., et al. Loneliness. Vol. 2, Dec. 2011, pp. 178–87. Scopus, doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-373951-3.00116-2. Full Text

Dodge, T. M. V. P. P. K. A., and T. M. V. P. P. K. A. member. “The ecological effects of universal and selective violence prevention programs for middle school students: A randomized trial.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 77, 2009, pp. 526.-542.


Asher, S. R. “Topic interest and children's reading comprehension.” Theoretical Issues in Reading Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Psychology, Linguistics, Artificial Intelligence and Education, 2017, pp. 525–34. Scopus, doi:10.4324/9781315107493-28. Full Text

Wigfield, A., and S. R. Asher. “Social and motivational influences on reading.” Handbook of Reading Research, 2016, pp. 423–52.

Asher, S. R., et al. “Children as friends.” The SAGE Handbook of Child Research, edited by G. B. Melton et al., Sage, 2014, pp. 169–94.

Asher, S. R., and M. S. Weeks. “Loneliness and belongingness in the college years.” Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Solitude: Psychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone, edited by R. J. Coplan and J. C. Bowker, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, pp. 283–301.

Weeks, M. S., and S. R. Asher. “Loneliness in childhood: Toward the next generation of assessment and research.” Advances in Child Development and Behavior, edited by J. B. Benson, vol. 42, Academic Press, 2012, pp. 1–39.

MacEvoy, J. P., et al. “Loneliness.” Encyclopedia of Adolescence, vol. 2, Academic Press, 2011, pp. 178–87.

Asher, S. R., and K. L. McDonald. “Children’s friendships.” International Encyclopedia of Education, edited by B. McGraw et al., Elsevier, 2010, pp. 564–69.

Asher, S. R., and K. L. McDonald. “The behavioral basis of acceptance, rejection, and perceived popularity.” The Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups, edited by K. H. Rubin et al., Gilford, 2009, pp. 232–48.

MacEvoy, J. P., and S. R. Asher. “Loneliness, children.” Encyclopedia of Human Relationships, edited by H. T. Reis and S. Sprecher, Sage, 2009, pp. 990–93.

Asher, S. R., et al. “Children’s peer relations, social competence, and school adjustment: A social tasks and social goals perspective.” Advances in Achievement and Motivation, edited by M. L. Maehr et al., vol. 15, Emerald, 2008, pp. 357–90.


Asher, S. R., and J. D. Coie, editors. Peer rejection in childhood. Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Asher, S. R., and J. M. Gottman, editors. The development of children's friendships. Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Selected Grants

Student Resilience awarded by Duke Endowment (Co-Principal Investigator). 2013 to 2016

Evaluation Research Study in the Area of Aggression & Interpersonal Youth Violence awarded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Co-Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2006

School and Community Based Violence Prevention Program for Middle School Students awarded by Centers for Disease Control (Co-Principal Investigator). 1999 to 2003