Shawn Whiteman received his B.A. (Shippensburg University) and M.A. (Wake Forest University) degrees in Psychology and his Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies (The Pennsylvania State University). After spending the first 11 years of his career in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue University, he joined the faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in 2016. Broadly, Shawn conducts research on the connections between family socialization processes and youth’s health and socioemotional adjustment. He is specifically interested in how siblings directly and indirectly act as sources of social influence and social comparison within families and how their family experiences foster similarities and differences in their relationship qualities, attributes, and health-related behaviors. He has received awards for his research and teaching, including Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences Early Career Research Achievement Award. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense. Outside of his work, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife, daughters, and friends, playing golf and basketball, and rooting for the professional sports teams from his hometown of Philadelphia.
- PhD, Penn State University, Human Development & Family Studies, Statistics Minor, 2004
- MA, Wake Forest University, Psychology, 2000
- BA, Shippensburg University, Psychology, 1998
My research interests focus on family socialization processes and their connection to youth’s social and emotional development during middle childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Currently, my research examines how siblings directly and indirectly act as sources of social influence and social comparison within families and how their family experiences foster similarities and differences in their relationship qualities, attributes, and health-related adjustment. For example, the Parent, Adolescent, and Sibling Study (PASS) examines the ways in which adolescent brothers and sisters influence each other’s health risk behaviors. I am specifically interested in distinguishing between the processes that drive sibling similarities and differences in these domains as well identifying the contextual factors that moderate their operation.
I am also interested in understanding how sibling relationships (and in particular the implications of sibling influence) evolve as youth transition from adolescence to early adulthood. First, in collaboration with Dr. Alex Jensen (Brigham Young University) and graduate students, we are exploring the nature and implications of sibling relationships during early adulthood. Second, through my continued involvement with the Penn State Family Relationships Project (FRP), I am investigating how sibling influence evolves from middle childhood, adolescence, and into early adulthood, and whether reciprocal influence become more evident as youth age.
In collaboration with Dr. Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth and other colleagues from the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, I also investigate the implications of military deployments for individual and family adjustment from pre-deployment through reintegration (i.e., after the service member returns home). My work concentrates on how deployments reverberate throughout the entire family system, shaping family relationships (both parent-child and sibling relationships) as well as non-service member parents’ parenting and mental health and ultimately children’s adjustment.
A final related research interest is the exploration of different research methodologies for studying families. I am particularly interested in the application of pattern analytic techniques (e.g., cluster analysis, latent class analysis, mixture models) to family research.