Dr. April G. Thomas
My research addresses the question “Why do adolescents take risks?” Broadly, I study adolescent development, particularly as it pertains to risk-taking and problem behavior. My training in developmental psychology has led me to view the increase in risk taking that occurs during adolescence, as compared to childhood or adulthood, as a normative response to the many changes that occur during this developmental phase. I am also interested in what happens when adolescents engage in risky behavior that is also illegal. As a result, my research is not limited to community samples, but has also included first-time juvenile offenders, as well as more serious, felony-level juvenile offenders. A unifying theme of my work is that it seeks to use developmental science to inform best practices for working with adolescents, particularly within the justice system. My past work has addressed policy issues pertaining to juvenile sexting, age of majority, and juvenile transfer to adult court. More recently, my research has focused on the effects of parental and peer influence on adolescent risk taking and crime. I am currently investigating the effects of juvenile incarceration and probation on adolescent sleep and social development (funded by the National Science Foundation [NSF], the American Psychological Foundation, and the Center for Law and Border Studies), as well as adolescents’ and families’ experiences during COVID-19 (funded by NSF).
Fine, A. D., Thomas, A. G., van Rooij, B., & Cauffman, E. (2020). Adolescents’ obligation to obey the law: Age-graded changes and parental influences on legal socialization. Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-020-00134-8
Thomas, A. G., Ozbardakci, N., Fine, A., Steinberg, L., Frick, P. J., & Cauffman, E. (2018). Effects of Physical and Emotional Maternal Hostility on Adolescents' Depression and Reoffending. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 28(2), 427-437. doi: 10.1111/jora.12345
Cauffman, E., Donley, S., & Thomas, A. G. (2017). Raising the age: Raising the Issues. Criminology and Public Policy, 16(1), 73-81. doi: 10.1111/1745-9133.12257. doi: 10.1111/1745-9133.12257. Authors are listed alphabetically as all authors contributed equally.
Cauffman, E., Fine, A., Thomas, A. G., & Monahan, K. C. (2017). Trajectories of violent behavior among females and males. Child Development, 88(1), 41-54. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12678.
Cauffman, E., Monahan, K, & Thomas, A. G. (2015). Pathways to persistence: Female offending from 14 to 25. Lifecourse Criminology, 1, 236-268. doi: 10.1007/s40865-015-0016-z.
Cauffman, E., Cavanagh, C., Donley, S., & Thomas, A.G. (2015). A developmental perspective on adolescent risk-taking and criminal behavior. In A. Piquero (Ed.), Handbook of criminological theory. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Authors are listed alphabetically as all authors contributed equally
Thomas, A. G., Monahan, K., Lukowski, A., & Cauffman, E. (2014). Sleep problems across development: A pathway to adolescent risk taking through working memory. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(2), 447-464. doi: 10.1007/s10964-014-0179-7.
Thomas, A. G., & Cauffman, E. (2014). Youth sexting as child pornography? Developmental science supports less harsh sanctions for juvenile sexters. New Criminal Law Review, 17(4), 631-651. doi: 10.1525/nclr.2014.17.4.631.
Vowell Hall, Room 205
PhD, University of California, Irvine (2017)
PSYC 4311: Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology
PSYC 3315: Psychology & the Law